Thursday, May 30, 2013

Feel Great: June Begins With Great Outdoors Week And Month

I may be a techie, bookish, some might say nerdy type of guy that could easily fall prey to the dangers of becoming attached to my desk and computers; but I also love nature and outdoor activities that keep me grounded, social, and healthy. One of the best ways to BeGreat and Feel Great is to get outside and be active. And so it is that I fully endorse June being Great Outdoors Month.

As amazing as this photo is of Wisconsin's Apostle Islands is,
experiencing it in person is even better
Excitement is growing across the nation about plans for Great Outdoors Week and Great Outdoors Month 2013. Great Outdoors Month celebrates a variety of important events and actions that occur during June, and highlights the benefits of active fun outdoors and our magnificent shared resources of forests, parks, refuges and other public lands and waters. Great Outdoors Week (June 1-8) showcases efforts enhancing outdoor recreation for all Americans in the 21st century through awards, briefings and other events in the Nation’s Capital.


Great Outdoors Week is coordinated by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and includes events co-hosted by more than a dozen federal agencies and national organizations. Great Outdoors Week's action-packed schedule begins on Monday with presentation of the Beacon Awards – honoring innovative uses of technology in public lands management to boost visitor experiences and to better manage visits – at the Department of the Interior’s Stewart Udall Building followed by the week’s opening reception – an ice cream social. On Tuesday, ARC’s Legends Awards, honoring outstanding public land management employees, will precede the Great Outdoors Week Recreation Exchange Luncheon. That same day, the
Recreational Trails Program award ceremony and briefing will be held on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, the Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award will be presented to a leading public figure whose personal efforts have significantly enhanced opportunities for others to enjoy the outdoors and a special program on the National Mall will focus on Healthy Food in Parks and the role of recreation in a happy, healthy nation.

On Saturday, National Get Outdoors Day,  public and private partners across the nation will team up to help tens of thousands of youth have fun outdoor adventures, typically close by the urban homes of these youth. Federal agencies, state and local park agencies, recreation businesses, healthcare companies and enthusiast groups will host National Get Outdoors Day events at nearly 150 locations and help these youth and their families begin a new chapter of their lives exploring and enjoying the incredible shared legacy of America’s Great Outdoors.

Great Outdoors month is a time to highlight what outdoor recreation does for us - and what we can do to preserve that. In addition to providing access to activities through special days where fees are waived (such as June 9 when all National Parks are free), many organizations also stress the importance of volunteerism and philanthropy to support those activities. Most natural places - whether it be a city, county, state or national park - would not be preserved as they are if not for the everyday people that have taken the initiative to support their existence by advocating for their preservation, raising funds for their upkeep, and doing the hands on work of maintaining and promoting them.

Great Outdoors Month will again highlight important initiatives across the country helping Americans pursue healthier, outdoor lives. These initiatives include:


A large coalition of outdoor recreation leaders has once again asked the President, all 50 Governors and other key officials to proclaim June as Great Outdoors Month. The proclamations provide nationwide attention to the economic importance of recreation and the special role of the Great Outdoors in re-establishing the USA as a major destination for international visitors. The nation’s health community is also increasingly vocal regarding the benefits of active time in the Great Outdoors as key to better health, better education and support for conservation. To view proclamations that have already been received, click here.