Kids Pitch Tent on Maryland Government House Lawn

Gov. Katie O'Malley and Ranger Rick talk about camping out
Maryland First Lady Katie O'Malley speaks about the Great American Backyard Campout

Research shows that kids are spending an average of 7 hours 38 minutes per day connected to technology, while only spending an average of 7 minutes per day in unstructured play.  While kids are engaged in organized sports, there isn’t a lot of time spent outside connecting with the natural world.  “Nature deficit” is creating a generation of kids who recognize more corporate logos than animals in their own backyard.

“One of the greatest threats to wildlife is a generation of children entirely disconnected from nature,” said Tony Caligiuri, mid-Atlantic regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation.  “The Great American Backyard Campout provides a simple, inexpensive way for families to have fun, while rediscovering the great outdoors.”

National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There campaign addresses the “indoor child” problem.  The Great American Backyard Campout is one of the campaign’s signature events. It takes place on June 25th and encourages families to camp out.

Details of the event can be found at

Nine Maryland Parks Hosting a Great American Backyard Campout

Maryland First Lady Katie O’Malley, the National Wildlife Federation, and Maryland Park Service promoted the 7th annual Great American Backyard Campout by pitching a tent with local children on the Government House lawn.  You can read the entire story on NWF’s media center.

Big Problem, Easy Solution

We brought a group of kids together to pitch a tent on the Maryland Government House Lawn and placed a butterfly net, Ranger Rick magazines, and some sticks with marshmallows around a faux campfire.  Within minutes, without adult instruction (or interference), the Governor’s son picked up the net and began hunting for butterflies in the nearby garden.  Other children played in the tent or “roasted” marshmallows over an unlit fire.  Kids don’t need structured play and specialized equipment to connect with the outdoors- they just have to Be Out There!

“The campout is a great way for people of all ages to develop a connection to the outdoor world.  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.”  – First Lady Katie O’Malley

Rediscover the Great Outdoors in Maryland

The Maryland Park Service has registered nine State Parks for the Great American Backyard Campout, including Dan’s Mountain, Patapsco Valley, Elk Neck, Sandy Point, Cunningham Falls, Deep Creek Lake, New Germany, Point Lookout, and Pocomoke River State Parks.  Each will host special events, including outdoor cooking classes, beachcombing, hiking, canoeing, and campfires.  More details can be found at Maryland Park Service.

Register your backyard or other campsite today for the Great American Backyard Campout >>