It’s a historic night at the White House Tuesday, as a group of 50 Girl Scouts are camping out on the South Lawn overnight — the first time that’s ever happened.
Twenty blue and white tents were pitched in the shadow of the building’s grand columns, next to a climbing rock wall and a small area for a campfire surrounded by hay bales and vinyl chairs that sat on the ground.
The First Lady gave the official welcome, greeting the girls who were dressed in bright green and brown Girl Scout vests and khaki shorts. They prepared a little “Let’s Move” chant and delivered polite applause, but Mrs. Obama almost seemed more excited than they did.
“I really just wanted to formally welcome you to the White House. There it is, it’s right there,” she said and kicked her hip back and threw up her arm, as if to say, ta-da.
“You’re making history, this is something you can tell you kids and your grand kids, do you understand the impact of this day?” she asked. Ten year old Anabel Horwitz got thinking about history after the first lady’s comments about history.
“I was thinking about world records and everything,” said Anabel, a Baltimore soon-to-be fifth grader. “I’m the first person … to go here and camp.”
Simply pulling up to the grounds left 11-year-old Skylar Smith in awe — and she lives in Washington, DC.
“I was shocked, I was like, ‘Oh my God, this must be a dream,’” Skylar said.
The 50 Girls Scouts hail from West Virginia, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Oklahoma and for some it’s the first time they’ve ever slept outside. This afternoon, they will learn how to pitch tents, use a compass, tie knots and climb a 28 foot rock wall.
Tonight, they will sing songs by a campfire, perform skits, and stargaze with a NASA astronaut and astrophysicist.
Perhaps the girls will also have time to give the first lady some tips.
“You guys have to help me I don’t know how to do anything, I can’t tie a knot, I can’t pitch a tent …I’m definitely not climbing that wall,” Mrs. Obama told the campers.
And true to her word, the first lady was very hands on; she climbed into a tent, learned to tie a knot, but as promised, it didn’t look like she hit the climbing wall. Mrs. Obama is the honorary National President of Girl Scouts of the USA, but joked she couldn’t earn any badges for everything she’s learned.
The event is part of the first lady’s “Let’s Move Outside” initiative with hopes to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors. It also coincides with June being National Parks month.