Participants from federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and the recreation industry are again teaming up to host the 10th annual National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day) to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun at sites across the nation. On Saturday, June 10, these diverse partners will offer opportunities for American families to experience traditional and non-traditional types of outdoor activities. Prime goals of the day are reaching currently underserved populations and first-time visitors to public lands, and reconnecting our youth to the great outdoors.
Each GO Day event will offer a mix of information centers and “active fun” areas – places where guests, and especially kids, can use a fishing pole, go geocaching, help pitch a tent and more. The sites will provide photo opportunities with characters like Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl and other interesting creatures. Many sites also feature areas that focus on other aspects of healthy living, including sustainability and good nutrition. In addition to the GO Day events, participants will be invited to nearby follow-up activities called EchO events occurring throughout the summer, which include introductions to mountain biking and fly-fishing, hikes with rangers to see wildlife, kayaking and rafting and much more.
The pilot effort of National Get Outdoors Day was launched on June 14, 2008. Building on the success of More Kids in the Woods and other important efforts to connect Americans – and especially children – with nature and active lifestyles, the USDA Forest Service (FS) and the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) agreed to lead an inclusive, nationwide effort focusing on a single day when people would be inspired and motivated to get outdoors. GO Day partnered with federal, state and local agencies, key enthusiast organizations and recreation businesses to create a healthy, fun day of outdoor adventure aimed at reaching first-time visitors to public lands and reconnecting children to the outdoors.
Last year, 138 official GO Day sites across the nation welcomed thousands of new faces to the joy and benefits of the great outdoors. So far this year, there are 220 official GO Day sites nationally, but only one in Alaska (in Girdwood). But kids can still get outdoors in Sitka. In fact, the Kids Fishing Day at Swan Lake is this Saturday, and young anglers can win prizes. Kids also can stop by the Sitka National Historical Park to take a hike around the totem trails or do some Junior Ranger activities.
GO Day is an outgrowth of the Get Outdoors USA! campaign, which encourages Americans, especially our youth, to seek out healthy, active outdoor lives and embrace our parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters. Working with the Forest Service, Get Outdoors USA! hosted six recreation forums in early 2007 and learned that public lands were missing the right triggers to capture the attention of today’s youth. The GO Day concept was first tested at the Outdoor Recreation Village at Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Arizona, which drew over 100,000 visitors. For more information on the Outdoor Recreation Village, click here.