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Play Learn Work Serve Camp Will Connect Youth to the Outdoors
Sandy Springs, Ga.: Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and the YMCA of the USA are launching a joint pilot program that will provide memorable and meaningful experiences for youth in parks this summer. The Play, Learn, Serve, Work Summer Camp Program is part of the Department of the Interior's 50 Cities Initiative to increase awareness, support, and participation in outdoor programs.
This national effort has made it possible for the metro area parks to form a new partnership with both the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta and the Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA. This summer, YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta summer day camp participants in the pilot program will visit each of the three parks to play, learn, serve, and work by connecting with our shared natural and cultural heritage. Day campers will learn more about Dr. King's legacy, the science behind the Civil War, and the natural heritage of the Chattahoochee River. Participants from the Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA will spend each week at camp along the Chattahoochee River. As a result of the camps, participants will walk away with new learning, new friendships, and new experiences—some will be visiting a national park for the very first time.
"Many of the students we engage know that these places exist, but may not understand what national parks are all about. We hope these programs will help us connect with an engage the next generation in a meaningful way," says Superintendent Bill Cox of the Chattahoochee River.
"This collaboration unites the resources and expertise of two organizations that are committed to youth engagement and development," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "It will help thousands of children to 'Find Your Park' –magnificent places where they can play, learn, serve, and work outdoors. This type of personal contact with nature provides benefits physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.
"Through this partnership, National Park Service sites and YMCAs in nine cities will leverage their resources to expand the reach of both organizations this summer. They will create joint recreational, educational and service programs that emphasize the value and significance of resources in their communities. The cities are Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Washington, DC.
"Attending camp is one of the most rewarding childhood experiences," said Kevin Washington, President and CEO of YMCA of the USA. "Collaborating with the National Park Service will enhance the camp experience for so many of the youth who participate in the Y's summer programs by providing education, recreation and service opportunities in our nation's parks and historic sites. It will also provide work and service learning opportunities for teens and young adults in communities nationwide."
This partnership is part of the Department of the Interior's youth initiative to engage and employ the next generation to Play, Learn, Serve and Work in America's great outdoors.
Play: Interior will develop or enhance outdoor recreation partnerships in a total of 50 cities over four years to create new, systemic opportunities for outdoor play for more than 10 million young people.
Learn: Provide educational opportunities to at least 10 million of the nation's K-12 student population annually. In addition to welcoming students into nature's classroom, Interior is developing and strengthening new online education resources to reach more students.
Serve: Engage one million volunteers annually on public lands, effectively tripling current volunteer numbers. Many more people are interested in volunteering at national parks, wildlife refuges and public lands, but there are often insufficient staff resources to coordinate them. In order to achieve the volunteer goal, a renewed emphasis will be placed on volunteer coordination and management.
Work: To develop the next generation of lifelong conservation stewards and ensure our own skilled and diverse workforce pipeline, Interior will provide 100,000 work and training opportunities to young people and veterans within our bureaus and through public-private partnerships. As part of this effort, the Department aims to raise an additional $20 million from private and corporate donors to support youth work and training opportunities.
This initiative follows Secretarial Order No. 3332 issued by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to significantly expand recreational, educational, volunteer and career opportunities for millions of youth and veterans on the nation's public lands, including partnerships with businesses and nonprofit organizations to support the Obama Administration's 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC). The 21CSC is a national collaborative effort to put America's youth and veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America's natural and cultural resources.
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.
Visit the following sites to learn about the National Park Service:
- website https://www.nps.gov
- Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice
- Twitter https://www.twitter.com/natlparkservice
- YouTube https://www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice
To learn more about the national park in your backyard, visit their websites at:
- Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area https://www.nps.gov/chat
- Martin Luther King National Historic Site https://www.nps.gov/malu
- Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park https://www.nps.gov/kemo
About the Y: The Y is one of the nation's leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 22 million men, women and children –regardless of age, income or background –to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation's health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. Visit www.ymca.net.
Live near a park in Atlanta? Check out http://www.ymcaatlanta.org/summer-camp/ to learn if a program is near you.