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This Land Was Made for You and Me

Although the redwoods they house are much, much older, the National Parks Service celebrated its 100th birthday last week. It has us all reflecting on the growth and fun and challenge we’ve found outside. In fact, two of our Y of San Francisco branches live in national Parks- Presidio and Pt. Bonita. And to celebrate the centennial, 7 teens from our Buchanan Y branch pushed themselves into the wild and hiked 30 miles over four days. 30 miles! 4 days! We’re so proud of them. (I am also more than a little jealous.)

Jenifer Hughes, Buchanan Y’s Associate Director of Teen Programs, led the teens and shared about her experience. Seven Y teens hiked from Pacifica to the Presidio, through the National Parklands of the South Bay, through San Francisco, ending in a celebration at Crissie Fields, where we met our partner team who’d hiked south.  

If you have a chance to do a 30 mile, 4 day hike with National Park Rangers, don’t pass on it! The teens learned so much; with speakers teaching the group about the native peoples who inhabited the land, naturalists sharing about the plants and wildlife that are unique and sacred to the area, and how to sustain the future of our National Park Lands.

I find it especially noteable that the group of young women were mostly first time hikers and campers, and together they learned the essentials- how to properly take care of their feet, and put up and take down a tent. I can only imagine how this experience will stay with them, and allow them so much confidence for future outdoor experiences! Our youth received free hiking boots from Merrell Outdoors, tents and sleeping bags from Bay Area Wilderness Training, gear from REI, and food and snacks provided and cooked by Whole Foods NorCal & the Dirty Gourmet. We’re honored to be a part of such awesome partnerships that truly changed the lives of our teens.

Shares Jen, “I am grateful for the opportunity that was presented to us and look forward to Buchanan's further efforts towards engaging our youth to be excited about outdoor spaces. This group of teens now knows how they can be advocates and respect their National Park lands. Congratulations Ladies on your accomplishments!”

Check out this sweet video from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy about the trek, featuring teens from our Buchanan YMCA: