Girl Scouts Camp Out on the White House Lawn

The girls participated in the first White House campout.

July 01, 2015, 6:20 AM

— -- Girl Scouts do all sorts of outdoor activities, but only a few will be able to say they rock-climbed on the White House lawn, sang campfire songs with the president and first lady and stargazed with NASA astronauts.

Some 50 lucky fourth -graders got those bragging rights after participating in the first-ever White House camp-out, held as part of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move! Outside” initiative, which strives to get children active and exploring the outdoors.

President Obama himself dropped by the girls’ campsite later in the evening and joked “What are you guys doing in my yard?” as he approached the group, which had gathered around a “campfire” made of LED-lighted lanterns.

The president and first lady settled down next to two scouts, and Girl Scouts tunes including “Make New Friends but Keep the Old” were played.

But the weather wasn't completely on the girls' side. As storms prepared to move through the nation's capital overnight, the Girl Scouts were moved from tents on the South Lawn into sleeping bags on the fourth floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Having girls camp out at the White House is intended to encourage families to visit some of the country’s 50-plus other national parks.

The first lady participated earlier in the day in a knot-tying demonstration with some of the scouts, although she excused herself from some of the more daring activities, such as climbing a 28-foot rock wall that had been constructed right in front of the White House.

“I don't know if I can officially earn a badge, but I want to try,” she said. “I don't know how to tie a knot, I don't know how to pitch a tent. I can sing a little bit - I'm definitely not climbing that wall. That's up to you all, OK?”

The first lady also urged the girls to recognize the historic nature of the day, given that no other Girl Scout troops -- or anyone, for that matter -- had ever been invited to camp out on the south lawn of the White House.

“This is the first time we've ever done a camp-out on the South Lawn on the White House," she said. "You are making history. This is something you can tell your kids and grandkids!”

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