Governors Leading Efforts to Connect Kids and the Great Outdoors

Washington, D.C. (April 23, 2015) – Governors across the nation are leading efforts to introduce kids and their families to healthy fun outdoors, using the shared legacy of public lands and waters. From issuing proclamations of Great Outdoors Month™ to hosting Capital Campouts to appearing in public service announcements, America’s Governors and their families are emerging as champions of the outdoors as key to wellness, education, economic development and strong families and communities. And the Governors are all taking on this exciting and important effort with great enthusiasm despite significant differences in background, location and politics.

For several years, all 50 Governors have helped highlight June as Great Outdoors Month™ with state proclamations. The proclamations vary in messages, often reflecting the special initiatives and priorities of each Governor and the unique outdoor attributes of each state. More and more proclamations recognize and applaud the efforts of volunteers and organizations that facilitate outdoor fun with events and activities. The proclamations also reflect a clear sense of pride in the state’s parks and other outdoor places. Copies of the 2015 proclamations and those of recent years are available at funoutdoors.com.

An exciting new development for 2015 is the expansion of the Governor-led Capital Campouts. What began in 2014 with five Governors has more than doubled to 12 states across the country. While each is unique, these Campouts share the active involvement of the state’s top elected official with a group of young campers with limited outdoors experience. State park directors have enlisted a team of partners often including scouts, national Great Outdoors Month™ partners like Founding Sponsor The Coleman Company, Inc., the National Wildlife Federation, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and other local recreation and conservation organizations to hold the Campouts. And they are using remarkable and unusual sites like the front lawn of the Governor’s official residence!

Governors are also adding their own special touches. In Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe is using his residence’s food team to help campers cook their meals and he plans to have his own children join in the fun. In Wyoming, Governor Matt Mead is leading a special outreach to Hispanic youth at the bilingual Capital Campout/ Campamento y Comida en al Parque. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is teaming up with the state’s leading recreation businesses for a Campout, capping a weekend of fun expected to draw thousands. For a full list of Capital Campouts, including dates and sites, visit greatoutdoorsmonth.org.

Many of the 2015 Capital Campouts are focused on 4th graders – a prime age for introducing outdoor activities and efforts to turn those activities into lifelong pursuits. The Campouts will help states plan for the new Every Kid in a Park initiative which will strive to get four million 4th graders to national and state parks for a day of fun and learning each year, beginning this September.

The Coleman Company, Inc. is providing much of the equipment needed for the Campouts, including tents and sleeping bags. Coleman’s Dave Allen, President - U.S., notes that the equipment will get good use after the Campouts: “We are delighted that the tents and other camping equipment will become key assets for state parks and allied organizations to host kids and families at Learn to Camp programs. Most of the equipment should get used for years to come with these programs. We expect that each six-person tent will ultimately generate a hundred big new smiles!”

Governors are also appearing in public service announcements (PSAs) highlighting outdoor fun and providing phone and website links to provide trip-planning information and assistance. The Governors are using state park and tourism agencies to produce and distribute the PSAs. The Great Outdoors Month™ Partnership – including representatives from organizations like the American Recreation Coalition, American Hiking Society, The Corps Network, National Wildlife Federation and more – will review the PSAs and pick five as “Best of 2015." The Governors appearing in the selected five PSAs will then have the opportunity to name a nonprofit organization helping to connect America’s kid to the outdoors as the recipient of a $1,000 action grant from the Partnership.

These Governors are at the forefront of the important effort to introduce new participants to America’s Great Outdoors. Dozens of private and public, national and state organizations, including the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), Active Network, S.C. Johnson’s OFF!, the Great Outdoors Month™ Partnership and more are marshaling the resources right now to assist them. Together, we can introduce a new generation to America’s Great Outdoors.