Annapolis, Md. – In celebration of Maryland’s abundant natural resources and exciting recreational opportunities, Governor Martin O’Malley today proclaimed that the month of June is “Great Outdoors Month.”
“This month we all should take some time to celebrate and enjoy Maryland’s great outdoors,” said Governor O’Malley. “Only through experiencing the natural wonders our State has to offer, can we fully appreciate it. And by sharing that appreciation with our children, we are creating the next generation of stewards.”
This is Maryland’s fifth year celebrating Great Outdoors Month, which is sponsored nationally by the American Recreation Coalition. June is an active time for recreation across the U.S., featuring hundreds of annual events, ranging from National Trails Day and National Boating and Fishing Week, to National Family Recreation Week and National Clean Beaches Week.
While Maryland has countless opportunities for young people to experience the outdoors all year long, summer is a special time for children and their families.
On June 3, Sandy Point State Park will host more than 4,000 students, teachers and parents from more than 100 schools to celebrate those receiving Maryland Green School Certification from the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education, and to encourage others to go green. Maryland Green Schools exemplify ways to incorporate environmental education into the curriculum, including outdoor hands-on learning, and weave environmental practices throughout the school culture.
Saturday, June 25 is the Great American Backyard Campout, where families are encouraged to explore Maryland’s natural resources through camping. All Maryland State Parks with campgrounds are offering special campfire and s’mores programs. Specifically, nine parks are offering special camping programs to families and organized groups including Scales and Tales, guided hikes, campfire cooking, owl prowls and kayaking. Parks included are Deep Creek Lake, New Germany, Dan’s Mountain, Cunningham Falls, Elk Neck, Patapsco Valley, Sandy Point, Point Lookout and Pocomoke River State Parks.
“The Backyard Campout event is a great way for Marylanders to share nature with their childrenâ”€ whether through our affordable State Parks and forests or in their own backyards,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin.
Throughout the summer, a record 1,000 teams will participate in Park Quest 2011, a family-based outdoor recreational program of kayaking, hiking, biking and enjoying historical adventures in 24 of Maryland’s beautiful State Parks. Hundreds of families have participated in Park Quest since its inception in 2008. Although the challenge is officially filled for this year, interested families can still take part in most quests. Go to dnr.maryland.gov/parkquest/ for more information.
Maryland State Parks are also offering Junior Ranger programs, where young people ages 7-14 can explore the parks’ natural and historical areas, learn stewardship and participate in recreational opportunities, while earning achievement awards.
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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