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Capital Camp Out: Girl Scouts Take to White House Lawn With First Lady

by Kristin Donnelly /  / Updated 

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President Obama and the first lady dropped by a campfire in their backyard Tuesday night, where a group of 50 Girl Scouts are spending the night.

The campers shrieked and squealed with delight as the president and first lady walked out of the residence and toward the circle where they were singing songs.

"What are you doing in my yard?" the president joked.

"We’re making history on your lawn," one girl shouted.

The group was in fact, making history, the first ever to camp out on the White House South Lawn.

Twenty blue and white tents were pitched in the shadow of the building’s grand columns, next to a climbing rock wall.

The Obamas pulled up a hay bale and sat with the girls, who are ten and eleven, chatting about the outdoors and singing songs.

The surprise visit from the President ended when he offered up the idea of a group hug and was suddenly mobbed.

"Remember to put out the fire before you go to bed," the President called as he walked away. The campfire was actually made up of glowing lanterns.

Earlier in the day 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," the Baltimore soon-to-be fifth grader said. "I’m the first person ... to go here and camp."

Simply pulling up to the grounds left eleven year old Skylar Smith in awe and she lives in Washington, D.C.

"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, DC and Oklahoma and for some it’s the first time they've ever slept in outside.

This afternoon, they learned how to pitch tents, use a compass, tie knots and climb a 28 foot rock wall.

Tonight, sang songs by a campfire, performed skits, and stargazed with a NASA astronaut and astrophysicist. Perhaps the girls would 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.

Image: Michelle Obama Hosts Girls Scouts At First-Ever White House Campout
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (C) particiaptes in a knot-tying session with fourth-grade Girl Scouts during the first-ever White House Campout June 30, 2015 at South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C.Alex Wong / Getty Images

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