On Saturday, June 8, the country will gather to celebrate National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day). The celebration will include federal agencies, nonprofits and recreational companies hosting events to encourage active, outdoor fun.
GO Day is an outgrowth of the Get Outdoors USA! campaign, which encourages Americans to support parks, public lands and forests by participating in outdoor activities. The USDA Forest Service worked with Get Outdoors USA! to host several forums in 2007, through which they learned about the disconnect between youth and their public lands. GO Day was first launched on June 14, 2008, by the Forest Service and the American Recreation Coalition (ARC). This year, more than a hundred official GO Day sites will participate. In North Carolina, residents will have opportunities to participate in GO Day events at Chimney Rock Park and the Cradle of Forestry. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Cradle of Forestry will offer free activities including skills teaching, crafts, scavenger hunts, hiking trails and demonstrations by Western North Carolina’s outdoor recreation community.
This year, instead of celebrating GO Day during regular hours, Chimney Rock Park will host a fundraiser for the nonprofit Friends of Chimney Rock State Park. The event, Park in the Dark, will be held from 7:30–9:30 p.m. on GO Day. There will be storytelling, stargazing and encounters with nocturnal animals. “We thought this after-hours fundraiser for the Friends of Chimney Rock State Park would be the perfect way to celebrate National Get Outdoors Day, because of all that the nonprofit group does for the Park and its trails,” says Landdis Hollifield, events and promotions manager at Chimney Rock Park. “During Park in the Dark families can get outdoors and explore the park at a time where they wouldn’t usually be here. The nonprofit puts those funds directly back into the park and that helps out our entire community. Our goal is to get kids and their families outside and exploring the world around them.” Tickets are available online.