Maryland First Lady Katie O’Malley Helps Kick-Off The Great American Backyard Campout

National Wildlife Federation and Maryland Park Service join local kids on the Government House lawn for campout event

06-16-2011 // Kristy Myers
Great American Backyard Campout

First Lady Katie O’Malley kicked-off the Great American Backyard Campout with help from the National Wildlife Federation and Maryland Park Service by pitching a tent with a group of local kids on the Government House lawn. “Camp under the stars” is one of ten outdoor activities that make up the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, introduced by Governor Martin O’Malley in 2009.

“The campout is a great way for people of all ages to develop a connection to the outdoor world,” said First Lady O’Malley. “By encouraging children to spend time outdoors, whether at a State Park or in their own backyards, we are teaching them to respect nature and helping create the next generation of stewards.”

The National Wildlife Federation’s 7th annual Great American Backyard Campout takes place June 25 and encourages families and children nationwide to camp out.

“One of the greatest threats to wildlife is a generation of children entirely disconnected from nature,” said Tony Caligiuri, mid-Atlantic regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation. “The Great American Backyard Campout provides a simple, inexpensive way for families to have fun, while rediscovering the great outdoors.”

Families can register their campout at www.BackyardCampout.org. As soon as people register, they receive helpful information to make their camping experience a fun one including recipes, nocturnal wildlife guides, campfire songs and games, nature activities and more. For those looking to camp beyond their own backyard, the Campout website helps locate organized Campouts across the country.

The Maryland Park Service will host special events in conjunction with the Campout June 25 and 26 at nine State Parks, including campfires, outdoor cooking classes, animal programs, guided canoeing and hiking, and beachcombing. Participating parks are Deep Creek Lake, New Germany, Dan’s Mountain, Cunningham Falls, Patapsco Valley, Elk Neck, Sandy Point, Point Lookout and Pocomoke River State Parks. Details on each event are available here.

To ensure all Maryland young people have the opportunity to connect with their natural world and grow to become informed and responsible stewards, Governor O’Malley established the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature in 2008. Under this initiative, which is now being used as a national model, an ambitious set of actions focus on improving connections with nature during the school day as well as outside of school and in communities.

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