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Coastal Views and Sandy Shoes

Photo Credit: Charles Post

Spring Break Camp in the Marin Headlands

Though it was an overcast morning, 85 YMCA of San Francisco campers from Mission YMCA, Presidio Community YMCA, Chinatown YMCA, and Point Bonita YMCA arrived at the Point Bonita YMCA in beautiful Marin Headlands ready for adventure. The coastal marine view, deep purple clouds, and velvety green hills were a dramatic and awe-inspiring welcome, even for the bus drivers. This Spring Break camp day would be a day like no other, thanks to a partnership with The Nature Project and its founders, lifelong best friends Cooper Helfet, professional football player for the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders, and Charles Post, ecologist, educator, and storyteller.

“Each of our activities leans on The Nature Project curriculum developed and fine-tuned over the past two years,” shares Post, “one that builds upon self-worth, team work, communication, commitment, perseverance and simply having fun outside!”

Photo Credit: Charles Post

The Nature Project’s leaders are athletes, artists, and environmentalists, and they offer the campers their perspective on the outdoors and how it has shaped their life and career; sparking adventure through games, stories, and team-building activities.


Personal Growth

Photo Credit: Charles Post

In the camp program environment, the Y strives to create an atmosphere of openness and personal growth. Often the day’s activities may mean that campers are learning new skills, developing their confidence, or taking on a personal challenge. At the same time, Y staff are also always growing; learning to recognize each individual camper’s strengths and challenges, and navigating how to best be a facilitator as a trusted adult.

The day started with lunch in the YMCA Point Bonita dining hall, after which the naturalists lead campers down to Rodeo Beach, hundreds of feet below the cliffs of the Marin Headlands. At the base, they were planning to meet up with the professional athletes of The Nature Project.

It was a little less than a mile hike, and some parts of the trail were fairly steep. As the slope of the path became more vertical, one of the campers faced a challenge. What if she fell? What if she couldn’t make it all the way down? Her Y camp counselor recognized her apprehension; acknowledged her concern, and shared words of encouragement. Step by step, they navigated the trail. She proudly made it to the beach feeling triumphant. And so did her Y camp counselor.

Photo Credit: Lara Farrell Hitchcock


The Sun Will Come Out

Photo Credit: Charles Post

Upon arriving at the beach, the Y staff saw a range of reactions from campers: joy at experiencing the expanse of openness and wind, fear of bugs and dirt, trepidation in exploring the beach, delight upon meeting The Nature Project athletes, and sometimes, irritation… in trying to empty out sand from their shoes for the third time.

As the clouds parted and the sun came out, the campers played team-building games, reflected on their own goals and dreams, and delighted in creating characters out of found beach treasures.

We thank The Nature Project team for their dedication and partnership in providing kids with outdoor experiences.

Photo Credit: Charles Post

Read the Nature Project Blog and see more photos from this spring break camp.

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