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The National Park Foundation, the official non-profit of America’s national parks, and L.L.Bean have announced a year-long effort to increase outdoor recreation among families and introduce more children to America’s national parks than ever before. The Million Moment Mission is a program created in celebration of L.L.Bean’s 100-year anniversary to provide $1 million in support to the National Park Foundation’s “America’s Best Idea” program through a national movement to share stories, ideas and photos of outdoor experiences.

This program is launched on the heels of a survey jointly created by L.L.Bean and the National Park Foundation which found that not only are children today not spending as much time outdoors as their parents did, more than a third of parents say they prefer to spend time indoors and 59 percent report that busy schedules often make it a challenge to get outside.

“Our founder, Leon Leonwood believed that spending time outdoors was fundamental to happiness in life. This belief was the guiding principle our company was founded on and still continues to drive us in all we do, 100 years later,” said Chris McCormick, CEO of L.L.Bean, “Through the decades we have received many letters and stories from people sharing their passion for nature and outdoor recreation. In the world we live in today we have the ability to share and influence the conversation in a way we hope will re-ignite America’s love affair with the great outdoors and help families pass that passion on to the next generation.”

“There is no better way to safeguard our nation’s treasures and inspire new generations of outdoor enthusiasts then by introducing a young person to our national parks,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation . Through the America’s Best Idea grant program the National Park Foundation is helping to bring youth from underserved communities into the parks for outdoor excursions year round where they will participate in a variety of educational and experiential activities. “We’re passing on a legacy to the next generation and we hope individuals will get outdoors, show their support for the national parks, and help L.L.Bean reach their Million Moment Mission.”

National Parks — A Year-Round Treasure

According to National Park Foundation, many people don’t realize winter is one the most magnificent times to visit our national parks with beautiful scenery and smaller crowds. The survey showed slightly more than one in four people (28 percent) say they have never visited a national park. Whether viewing the snow-capped rim of the Grand Canyon, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the magical backdrop of Maine’s Acadia National Park, or enjoying the temperate waters of south Florida’s Biscayne Bay — winter is an excellent time to experience the magic of America’s national parks in a whole new way. At Yellowstone National Park, for example, just five percent of the annual three million visitors come during the winter months, and at Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave State Park and many other parks across the country, it’s possible to receive a personal guided tour by park rangers who, in the summer, would be hosting tours for large groups.

Making the Most of Winter Outdoor Moments  To help the Million Moment Mission

“One of the barriers to getting outdoors this time of year can simply be the temperatures for many,” L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery School guide Rob Hutchison said.

In fact, weather was the number one reason parents gave for staying indoors.

“One of the first things we teach parents in our winter classes is how to layer clothing correctly to be comfortable in any climate,” said Hutchison.

Research shows that even 15 minutes outdoors a day in the winter months can have tremendous benefits for increased concentration, mood elevation and physical health. Hutchison offers the following advice for busy parents:

— Discover Something New. Remember the thrill of seeking out a new adventure you had as a child? Your family will be energized when you try a new outdoor recreation experience together or seek out a park you’ve never tried before. Layer up and schedule a date for an afternoon to explore together. Consider registering your family for one of our L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery School courses. They are a great value and make trying a new sport easy, safe and fun.

— Find Small Pockets for Outdoor Fun. Even a short 15-minute walk can be an opportunity for physical activity, observation and conversation with your children. While the children may be reluctant to go outside in winter, if you set the example, they’ll enjoy it, too.

— Read and Research. Take advantage of your local nature centers. Winter is a great time to learn about animal habits and habitats. Ignite your child’s curiosity and they’ll enjoy taking that knowledge with them to the local park or your own backyard.

Discover Your Outdoor Passion, Share It Online In the Million Moment Mission

While taking steps to spend more time outdoors this year, Americans will have an opportunity to help children in underserved communities experience our National Parks as part of L.L.Bean’s Million Moment Mission. L.L.Bean is pledging to donate $1 (up to $1 million) for every “outdoor moment” Americans share online or by attending one of L.L.Bean’s many outdoor events this year. The funding from L.L.Bean will support the National Park Foundation’s “America’s Best Idea” program, connecting diverse, underserved and under-engaged audiences in local communities to national parks. L.L.Bean is also offering a newly expanded curriculum of outdoor recreation excursions for families and individuals through its growing Outdoor Discovery School.

The Outdoor Discovery School winter curriculum offered in states — including Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia — offers fully outfitted half-day, full-day and multi-day winter sport experiences. To join the Million Moment Mission, find out more about the Outdoor Discover School and learn about other 100-year anniversary activities, visit www.llbean.com.

Easy to forget, but important to remember….We are the owners of 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites—all protected in America’s nearly 400 national parks.

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