Kids camp on Gov. Inslee’s front lawn for National Get Outdoors Day

Gov. Jay Inslee hosted 24 campers on his front lawn Saturday night as part of National Get Outdoors Day.

The Capitol Campout capped a daylong educational expo outside the Legislative Building with food, music, giveaways and more. The event was intended to raise awareness about outdoor recreation and Washington parks.

In total, 24 youth from the Thurston Boys and Girls Club and the South Sound YMCA were chosen for the camping experience. In addition, those organizations each received $5,000 in camping supplies, courtesy of Coleman, which outfitted each kid with camping gear such as tents, lanterns, flashlights and chairs.

Saturday night’s activities will include campfire songs, stargazing and smores. Before leading the campers to the front lawn of the Governor’s Mansion, Inslee lauded the state parks employees and volunteers for keeping the system afloat during challenging economic times. Inslee said there are 225,000 jobs related to outdoor recreation in Washington, and that state parks help foster healthy activities that can battle obesity and diabetes.

Inslee also said he looked forward to hosting Saturday’s young campers.

“I’m going to feel a lot safer having them at the Governor’s Mansion than the legislators,” Inslee said.

Saturday’s expo was sponsored by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the Washington State Parks Foundation. According to the official website for National Get Outdoors Day, celebrations were held at 171 locations across the U.S.

“We want to instill an eagerness to go outside,” said John Floberg, executive director of the parks foundation. “It’s an effort to reawaken awareness and appreciation for the outdoors.”

Olympia resident Mark Brown is a volunteer parks commissioner who has visited 90 of the state’s 117 parks. Before introducing the governor at the expo, Brown spoke of the impact state parks have on quality of life in Washington.

“We are not just managers of campgrounds,” Brown told attendees. “We are stewards of treasures - natural, historic, cultural and archeological resources, all to the benefit of the people of the state of Washington.”