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Maryland First Lady Katie O’Malley Celebrates Great American Backyard Campout


By Hannah Anderson

In 2009, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley introduced the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights to ensure Maryland youth have the opportunity to connect with and enjoy nature. This weekend, First Lady Katie O’Malley wants youth to take advantage of one right in particular: camp under the stars.

On Wednesday, Katie O’Malley gathered with children from the Annapolis area and pitched a tent on the Government House lawn to kick-off this year’s Great American Backyard Campout hosted by the National Wildlife Federation.

This Saturday, June 25, the O’Malleys will join thousands of people across the nation who will be camping out under the stars in celebration of the 7th annual Great American Backyard Campout.

“The campout is a great way for people of all ages to develop a connection to the outdoor world,” said 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 to create the next generation of stewards.”

Nine sites throughout Maryland are hosting special events on June 25 and 26 to celebrate the Great American Backyard Campout. There will also be events at many campgrounds throughout the state. Event details are available online at dnr.state.md.us.

O’Malley said events such as the Great American Backyard Campout are important tools for strengthening the bond between youth and nature.

“There is a generation of kids growing up virtually separate from nature,” O’Malley said. “This nature deficit is a huge problem, but the good news is the solution is easy.”

She advocated participation in events such as this weekend’s campout and engagement in outdoor activities such as gardening as a means of repairing this “nature deficit.”

Ranger Matt Ritter from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources also encouraged visitors to have regular interactions with nature by taking advantage of Maryland’s bountiful state parks.

“This event is only one day, but parks are open every day. They’re here for you to use, and we hope you do that,” said Ritter.

Photo from the Governor’s Office.

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