Some of my fondest childhood memories are camping out in the backyard with my friends, climbing trees, having “teddy bear picnics” in a secret place under the bushes, and whittling sticks to toast marshmallows.
Thanks to the Great American Backyard Campout this weekend, many thousands of people from across the nation will be pitching tents in their backyards, traveling to parks near and far, and trekking into the backcountry to enjoy America's Great Outdoors. This tradition was started by the National Wildlife Federation in 2005 to put camping back on the radar of families across the country, recognizing the importance of deepening a connection to nature as we become an increasingly urban and scheduled society.
Just playing in the nature unlocks the childhood curiosity and wonder in all of us, yet many children have had little to no exposure to the outdoors. Whether camping out, or having a backyard barbeque, giving children an opportunity to play outside, unstructured, feeds this curiosity, gets them moving, and builds confidence, comfort and appreciation the natural world – something that is essential to our well-being.
To support these efforts, the Interior Department – in partnership with organizations like the National Wildlife Federation – launched an ambitious initiative to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors.
I really look forward to having some outdoor fun with 80 girl scouts in West Virginia this weekend, a beautiful drive from our Nation's Capital. Where will your adventure be?
Have a great weekend and happy trails!
Sally Jewell is the U.S. Secretary of the Interior