Great Outdoors America Week Wraps up June 26

The end of June marked the annual Great Outdoors America Week, where, while kids and parents countrywide descended upon our great outdoors, hundreds of advocates descended upon Washington, DC, to remind the nation’s leaders of the importance of getting outside as well.

On Route: Stella Noble on the Diamond's Casual Route

On Route: Stella Noble on the Diamond’s Casual Route

As part of the revelry, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) hosted its second annual Youth and America’s Great Outdoors Event, with dozens of OAK members joining over 400 youth for a festival along the Anacostia River at Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Maryland.

“Outdoor experiences are important opportunities for youth to develop social and emotional skills, build relationships and develop an appreciation and respect for nature,” says Saint Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Chris Coleman. “The Great Outdoors America Week is an engaging way to inspire urban youth to make outside activities a part of living a healthy lifestyle.”

Helping the event come together was Minneapolis-based adventure travel organization Wilderness Inquiry, which helped stage a variety of outdoor activities for kids. Stations included canoeing, rock climbing, mountain biking, tent pitching, falconry, along with an array of educational demonstrations and games all centered around nature and the outdoors.

During the event, leaders from across the country also weighed in on the importance of getting kids outdoors. Speakers included Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy; National League of Cities President and Mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota Chris Coleman; Chief of Staff for EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Gwen Keyes Fleming; Interior Secretary Jewell’s Senior Advisor David Jayo; Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy Peter Rogoff; Executive Director of the Sierra Club Foundation Peter Martin; Executive Director of Wilderness Inquiry Greg Lais; and The Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams.

“As we celebrate Great Outdoors America Week, we remember the work done over the past century to protect millions of acres of federal land and priceless American wilderness,” says Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. “We’re reminded of the importance of preserving the health of our planet and connecting children and families to the natural world.”
Great Outdoors America Week wrapped up on June 25 at a Congressional reception at the historic Mott House, where The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club and other conservation groups honored three members of Congress for their conservation achievements: Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ), George Miller (D-CA) and Jim Moran (D-VA).

“It was the perfect way to cap off a successful week of activities,” says OAK’s Alyssa Charland Cochran, touting such events the launch of the 50 for 50 Campaign, a series of 50 conservation corps projects in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act; a Capitol Hill briefing on building diverse nature-smart leaders led by the Children & Nature Network; and a screening of a special film about the first African American team to climb Alaska’s Denali.

Organizers wish to extend a huge thanks to all OAK members and friends who pitched in, including American Camp Association, American Forests, American Heart Association, American Hiking Society, Anacostia Watershed Society, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Children & Nature Network, City of Saint Paul Office of the Mayor, City Parks Alliance, The Corps Network, Earth Conservation Corps, International Mountain Biking Association, Izaak Walton League of America, National League of Cities, National Park Service, National Park Trust, National Parks Conservation Association, National Recreation and Park Association, NOLS Expedition Denali, North American Association for Environmental Education, The Outdoor Foundation, Patuxent Research Refuge, Prince George’s County Department of Environmental Resources, Public Lands Service Coalition, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, REI, River Management Society, Sierra Club, Sierra Club Foundation, Urban Waters Federal Partnership, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Bureau of Land Management, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior, US Department of Transportation, Wilderness Inquiry, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA.

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