Trips & Dates | Packing ListFinancial Assistance | FAQs

The YMCA of San Francisco wants every child to have meaningful and fun outdoor experiences. We believe everyone has a place in nature and want youth in our Boys Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD) and Girl Outdoor Leadership Development (GOLD) programs to deepen their connection to the outdoors and build their leadership skills.

All youth are invited to take part in BOLD/GOLD. No child will be turned away for financial reasons! Find out if you qualify for financial assistance at the bottom of the page.

COVID-Safe Programming: The YMCA of San Francisco meets or exceeds all public health guidelines while delivering programming during COVID-19. Specific details regarding our COVID-safe policies and procedures will be shared with families closer to the start of each trip to ensure that the latest public health information has been incorporated into our trip plans.


What is BOLD & GOLD?

Are you ready to explore, make new friends, and be inspired by the beauty of nature? Leave what you know behind and be a part of something extraordinary in the wilderness. On a YMCA BOLD and GOLD backpacking adventure, you will:

  • Do the impossible! You’ll understand the value of challenge and the meaning of hard work while experiencing amazing sunsets, beautiful mountaintops, and starry skies.
  • Experience the challenge and the wonder of being up close and personal with California’s unique wild places. During your expedition, you’ll live outdoors, sleep outside every night, help cook your own meals and carry all you need.
  • Develop trust in one another and believe in yourself. You’ll laugh deeply, make lifelong friends and discover your true potential.
  • Connect with students from all different backgrounds. We embrace diversity and the uniqueness of every participant, including ethnicity, race, socio-economic level, culture, and gender expression. You’ll be inspired to be yourself and learn how to be a bridge-builder in today’s multicultural world.

Click here to pledge your support to this life-changing program!

BOLD, GOLD, or All Gender?

Gender equality is an essential component of the BOLD & GOLD program. In the Y spirit of inclusion, we invite youth to be their whole selves and register based on the gender with which they identify. Single-gender boys (Boys Outdoor Leadership Development) or girls (Girls Outdoor Leadership Development) trips allow participants to be themselves while stepping out of their comfort zone. We also offer all-gender expeditions, where instructors help you work together with your team in a way that empowers and allows equal space for everyone.

Regardless of the program type, all youth will have fun exploring the wonder of the wilderness while making new friends and developing leadership skills that empower them on trial and at home.

All You Need: A Desire to Go

Our trips are designed for beginners ready to embrace getting dirty and the adventure of living in the woods. You don't need any experience in backpacking.

Gear: We provide all group gear and will send you a packing list before the trip. Missing something on the list? Let us know. We can probably loan it to you at no additional cost.

Staff: Our leaders are skilled at building strong groups, have extensive experience working with youth as well as adults, and are passionate about inspiring people of all ages to discover the best in themselves. All BOLD & GOLD instructors are experienced outdoor professionals, possess certifications in Wilderness Medicine, and have undergone background checks and abuse prevention training.

Getting There: We transport BOLD & GOLD students to the trip destination on a leased bus driven by a professional driver.



Intro to Backpacking in the Marin Headlands

All-Gender Trip

Experience the beauty of the Marin headlands in a four-day, three-night backpacking adventure where you can see rolling green hills, craggy, windswept peaks, sheltered valleys, hidden forests, and unspoiled beaches full of treasures along the Marin Headlands. "When the fog rolls in as it often does, I felt like I was on another planet. Then the fog would quickly lift, and brilliant sunshine would warm the wildflowers growing in bursts of yellow and pink along the tops of the headlands." Campers will backpack from Bicentennial Campgrounds to Haypress Campground. Participants will learn backcountry cooking, navigation, and leadership while exploring the headlands and beautiful vistas.


Summer of 2023 dates, grades, and pricing coming soon! Check back with us in January 2023!


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Desolation Wilderness of Lake Tahoe

All-Gender Trip, BOLD Trip and GOLD Trip

We'll begin our trip on the stunning shores of Lake Tahoe before hiking into the majestic mountains of the Desolation Wilderness. Participants can look forward to cooling off mid-day at one of the many alpine lakes, camping in beautiful sites, and experiencing the adventure and tranquility of the real wilderness.


Summer of 2023 dates, grades, and pricing coming soon! Check back with us in January 2023!


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Desolation Wilderness of Lake Tahoe

LGBTQ+ Youth Trip

This trip, led by Queer staff exclusively for queer and LGBTQ+ youth, brings us into the majestic mountains of the Lake Tahoe's Desolation Wilderness. Within these mountains lie the most incredible North American alpine lakes. Campers will get the opportunity to immerse in who they truly are in relation to the outdoors, to pause and recharge, and embrace the beauty of the space, supporting each other along the way. This trip builds self-confidence and leadership skills while providing a safe space for youth in the Queer community.


Summer of 2023 dates, grades, and pricing coming soon! Check back with us in January 2023!


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Yosemite Backpacking

All-Gender Trip

Explore the majestic backcountry of Yosemite and take in the incredible ecosystems tucked away from the crowds! Each day, we'll hike 5-8 miles in one of the country's oldest and most famous national parks. Each night, we'll set up Camp in barely touched, truly natural areas. Campers will learn high sierra backpacking skills while exploring refreshing creeks, incredible granite formations, and breathtaking views.


Summer of 2023 dates, grades, and pricing coming soon! Check back with us in January 2023!


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Point Reyes Expedition

All-Gender Trip

Whether you are brand new to backpacking or have put many miles behind you, Point Reyes will not disappoint! Point Reyes National Seashore is full of wonders, both natural and human-made. Perched on the windiest spot along California's coast and the foggiest in North America, the Point Reyes lighthouse, built-in 1870, protected the shoreline for more than 100 years. After spending an overnight at Point Bonita, we'll travel to beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore to spend four nights in the wilderness, hiking approximately 5-6 miles per day and developing outdoor leadership skills. Each night, we will set up camp at a backcountry campsite either in the forest or along the coast.


Summer of 2023 dates, grades, and pricing coming soon! Check back with us in January 2023!


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Financial Assistance

Please use the form below to determine what level of financial assistance you are eligible for. Please fill out and send it to


Frequently Asked Questions


The YMCA of San Francisco meets or exceeds all public health guidelines while delivering programming during COVID-19. Specific details regarding our COVID-safe policies and procedures will be shared with families closer to the start of each trip to ensure that the latest public health information has been incorporated into our trip plans.

Are your trips still happening this summer? Should I register now or wait?

As of now, we are still planning to run our trips as scheduled. We certainly expect to have a BOLD & GOLD program in some capacity and are ready to be flexible based on federal, state, and local recommendations as summer approaches. It's best to register now to guarantee your spot. If we end up having to cancel the trip on our end due to safety regulations or group size restrictions, your deposit will be refunded.

How will you keep the kids safe from exposure to the virus, even in such close quarters?

While backpacking does require some close contact, it also is done in small groups away from other people. With so much of our daily lives restricted right now, getting out and connecting with nature is ever more important. We will be taking whatever steps are necessary to protect our groups and will be developing these policies more and more as summer approaches and the response to this outbreak evolves. At a minimum, we will certainly be making our existing pre-camp health screening more intensive, be conducting more stringent screenings of our staff, and be extra diligent about hand-washing, sanitizing dishes, and avoiding unnecessary contact with other people.

About the Program & Registration

Why are many BOLD & GOLD trips divided by gender?

While we offer some all gender trips for those that prefer that type of experience, it is also important to us to provide some single gender experiences. Part of the mission of BOLD & GOLD is to challenge the gender stereotypes that our society have instilled in all of us. All girls trips with strong female instructors, for example, show young women that they can be a strong leader in the outdoors without the aid of men by their side, contrary to the gender stereotypes around leadership in the outdoors. Additionally, providing a space for youth to spend with those of only their own gender gives some youth more freedom to express themselves however they’d like to.

I tried registering online, but I got stuck in the middle of the process. Help?

In order to register online, click on the appropriate register link on the program page. If you already have an account with us (or any branch of the YMCA of San Francisco), you should be able to login and register your camper.

If you don't have account with us, you can register for a free Community Participant membership for yourself and then add your teen onto your account. Go to the appropriate register link on the program page, click sign up in the top right corner and then choose Point Bonita YMCA as your location and then click on “Community Participant.” A lot of people don't notice that the "Community Participant" is a button, but it is. From there, enter your information first and then add your child to the account after that. Once you’ve created your account, you can go back to the register links on the program page, login into your account and then register.

If you're still having trouble, contact our administrative staff at 415-331-9622.

What is your refund policy?

All deposits are non-refundable. In cases of homesickness, dismissal or voluntary withdrawal, there is no refund of fees. All cancellations must be submitted by email. Any cancellation less than 3 weeks prior to the start of the session will result in a refund of 50% of the camp fees, less the deposit. Cancellations less than 1 week prior will result in a refund of 25% of fees, less the deposit. If a camper does not show for the session without notice, there will be no refund issued. A physician's authorized written medical excuse is required to be considered for a full refund. Requests for refunds with special circumstances must be submitted in writing or by email.

Wait...I don't think my kid is actually up for this, at least not yet. Do you have a more traditional camp, where the kids sleep in cabins, get showers every night, and don't have to hike quite so much?

We sure do! Check out all of our summer programs at!

Bathrooms, Showers, and More

Will the kids have an opportunity to wash their clothes?

No, but they can bring an extra change of clothes to change into upon leaving the backcountry. We typically have campers leave some things here at camp and then make sure that they are on the bus for them when they hike out of the woods. While our packing list may seem minimal, when backpacking- every ounce of weight matters and campers are going to be more comfortable wearing dirtier clothes than they are used to than they will be if their pack is extra heavy.  We very much encourage campers to pack light and be OK with wearing the same pair of pants/shorts and shirt multiple days in a row. Before leaving camp, the instructors will be going over the packing list with everyone and helping campers make those tough decisions about which articles of clothing are going to be super important to have with and which ones they may want to compromise over in order to keep their packs manageable.

Who's in the Group? Group Size, Genders, Friends, etc.

How many kids will be on the trip?

While enrollment can vary, we always have an absolute maximum of 12 students on our backpacking trips with most trips capped at 10. For many of our single-gender trips, we run a BOLD (boys) trip and a GOLD (girls) trip concurrently in the same area. So the two groups (each of typically 10 maximum) may share transportation and see each other at the beginning and end of the trip, but will be completely separated when in the backcountry.

How many instructors will be on the trip and what gender will they be?

As for instructors, we always send at least two instructors with every group. For our single-gender trips, both instructors' gender nearly always match those of the participants (in rare cases we may have one instructor who is not the same gender). For all gender trips, we will have one male-identifying instructor and one female-identifying instructor.

I'm transgender, non-binary, or questioning my gender identity. Which trip should I go on?

Please sign up for whatever trip will make you feel most comfortable. You will be welcomed and supported in a BOLD (all boys group), GOLD (all girls group), or All Gender group. If you feel comfortable talking with us about this prior to the trip with the Program Director and/or Instructors, please contact us, so we can help make the most inclusive environment possible for you.

I signed up with a group of friends, will we be in the same group? Can we share a tent?

If you signed up for the same exact trip (including dates, location, and gender), then you will be camping together in a small group with no more than 12 campers total. If you'd like to share a tent, you can make this request directly to their trip leaders during the trip. The trip leaders may decide to switch up tent arrangements throughout the trip to ensure that the kids in the group are all getting to know each other well.

Safety & In Case of Emergency

Will we get updates/pictures from the group throughout the trip? How will I know that my kids are safe?

Due to the nature of backpacking, we can’t have campers communicating with parents during the trip, except in case of emergency. Once they hit the trail, the group will not be returning to a base camp – they’ll be hiking to a new spot to set up camp each day. The trip leaders do periodic check-ins with Camp using our Satellite Phone (there’s no cell service there). Generally, no news is good news. If you have concerns throughout the week or a family emergency, you can reach out to us and we can let you know any updates that I have had from the group or can pass along a message to them when they next check in. The group will have a camera and will be taking pictures throughout the trip, which we will be sharing with families after the trip.

 Packing & Gear Concerns

Where do I find the packing list?

Check our information guide, here.

I looked at the packing list and we don't have most of that stuff. Should I go out and buy everything? Do you do gear rentals?

Please do not go out and buy a ton of stuff! We will provide ALL group gear (tents, stoves, cooking equipment, food, etc.) and we also will provide any personal items that campers need, subject to availability. Please do your best to pack what you can so that your camper is comfortable and wearing as much of their own stuff as possible. We have a significant supply of sleeping pads and bags, backpacks, rain jackets, warm jackets, etc. We have hiking boots available in most common sizes. All of the gear is loaned out to campers free of charge.

Do the kids really care all of their stuff? There's a support van right!?!?!?

The kids will need to carry all of the stuff they need for the trip on their backs, including a share of the group gear and food. There is no support van and no magical fairies that transport our belongings from one campsite to the next. We do a "Duffel Shuffle" at the beginning of each trip - during which time we go through the gear that campers have, help them check out items they need to borrow, and encourage them to leave some items behind to help lighten their packs. We also ask that everyone pack an additional small duffel bag or backpack that we can store extra belongings in including a clean set of clothes for the end of the trip.

But my kid is much weight will they be expected to carry?

We don't have a set amount that campers will be expected to carry, because it varies by trip and is different for each camper. We recognize that some campers are smaller and cannot carry as much, while others can carry more. We will work with each participant to make sure that they are not overloaded with stuff and will keep them physically and emotionally safe. That said, carrying a backpack that is significantly heavier than a typical day-to-day load is a necessary component of backpacking. Participants should be prepared for a challenge.

Camp Contact

Camp Contact