Summer Outdoor Programs - San Francisco Bay Area

The YMCA believes that time spent outdoors helps us be our healthiest, best selves. At the Y, we provide healthy outdoor programming opportunities for all members of our communities. The YMCA of San Francisco utilizes outdoor spaces, program expertise, strong partnerships, and a broad reach in our many neighborhoods to provide access to safe and open spaces within the communities we serve. From our 900 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains to our outdoor classroom in the Marin Headlands, we are integrated into the natural landscape across the San Francisco Bay Area.


The Y has a legacy of developing leaders through camping programs, going back 100 years. At Y Camp, kids have the opportunity to make friends, have fun, get active, and discover who they are and what they can achieve. Few environments are as special as camp, where kids become a community as they learn both how to be more independent and how to contribute to a group as they engage in physical, social, educational and outdoor activities. Our camps teach self-reliance, a love for nature and the outdoors, and the development of attitudes and practices that build character and leadership—all amidst the fun of campfires, bugle calls, canoeing, archery, talent shows and new friends.

Summer Camp at YMCA Camp Jones Gulch - Redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains

This summer from June 17 - August 10 there are programs for all ages to spend time underneath the redwoods at the YMCA Camp Jones Gulch resident camp program. This includes:

  • Resident Camp (5-6 day sessions) - Entering Grades 3 - 10
  • Horse Camp (5-6 day sessions) - Entering Grades 4 - 11
  • Teen Adventure Camps (5 - 6 day sessions) - Entering Grades 7 -11
  • Mini Camp (4 day sessions) - Entering Grades 1 - 3




Outdoor Education (OALA)

The Outdoor Education program transforms classroom subjects into memorable real-life experiences in the Santa Cruz Mountains and/or the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Empowering students to create healthier lives for themselves, their community, and the planet, naturalists at Point Bonita and Camp Jones Gulch engage students in the world around them teaching natural history, scientific concepts, wellness, and community-building in a safe, interactive, and cooperative way. The Y’s philosophy is holistic and multi-disciplinary, with an awareness of the connections between humans, the environment, and how to lead healthier lives, leaving students as ambassadors of the environment after an Outdoor Education retreat.

Outdoor Advanced Leadership Academy at Point Bonita YMCA

Outdoor Advanced Leadership Academy (OALA) is a unique leadership development program offered by the Y of San Francisco for youth in grades 6th-10th, in partnership with the California Waterfowl Association, that aims to cultivate an appreciation, understanding and love for the environment, while building skills that will allow youth to become active members of their communities.




Families in Nature

Our lives are full of distraction: buzzing electronics demanding our attention, homework for kids and work emails for adults, chores and pets and to-do lists... the list goes on and on. Going into a park or natural area as a family has a restorative effect, and encourages the bonding of family members. It’s soothing, allowing for moments of quiet connection with each other as well as the world around. Nature is full of colors, sounds, and impressions that excite us all—and give parents a chance to experience the world through their children’s eyes. At the Y, we provide facilitated opportunities for families to do just that.

Family Camp at YMCA Camp Jones Gulch - Redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains

Head out on horseback for a ride on one of our beautiful trails, plunge into our pool, conquer the 42-foot climbing tower, or fly down the zip line.  Or, if your idea of a fun weekend is relaxation, you can take a leisurely stroll through our Buckeye Grove, float around on a canoe, or just enjoy the quiet beauty of the Santa Cruz Mountains. 2018 Family Camp at YMCA Camp Jones Gulch has 4 sessions:

  • Memorial Day Family Camp - May 25 - 28, 2018
  • July 4th Jubilee - July 2 - 6, 2018
  • Labor Day Family Camp - August 31 - September 3, 2018
  • Autumn Magic Family Camp - October 5 - 7, 2018



Family Camp at Point Bonita YMCA

The Point Bonita Y is pleased to offer Family Camping Weekends this fall!  Join us for an extension of our Y Rangers (Play, Learn, Serve, Work) program, focused on getting outdoors and playing, learning, serving and working in our National Park.  This program will be offered once per month, for up to 25 families each month. 

Each weekend will offer activities for families to do together, kid-specific activities while parents get some time to themselves, opportunities for families to form community with each other, and service projects to give back to and preserve our parks. We will provide all meals and accommodations. At this time, families will sleep in our historic dorm rooms. In the future, we may offer tent camping as well. This is a partnership program between the YMCA of San Francisco and the National Park Service. 

Upcoming Dates:

  • February 9-11, 2018
  • March 23-25, 2018
  • April 13-15, 2018
  • May 11-13, 2018




Teen Camp and Leadership

The YMCA of San Francisco offers teen programming that supports growth, nurtures
self-expression, unites teens on common causes which paves the path for active and informed citizens of the future. Our programs provide teens the opportunity to take the lead in planning and directing their own programs and become great youth leaders!

BOLD & GOLD Outdoor Leadership Development

Through outdoor adventures and wilderness exploration, the BOLD & GOLD program inspires courage and multicultural leadership in diverse groups of youth between the ages of 11-17 years old. Teens take in amazing views in 6-10 day backcountry hikes in Yosemite, the Sierra mountains, Point Reyes, Big Sur, or along the Pacific coastline. Each expedition embarks with the goals to strengthen self-confidence in the wilderness, build group cohesion, learn stewardship of the land, and develop greater cultural understanding. This summer's trips include:

Trip Name Dates Age Range
Point Reyes (Spring) March 25-30 Grades 7-12 (Max Age 17)*
Intro to Backpacking June 17-21 Entering Grades 6-8
Point Reyes (Summer) June 24-29 Entering Grades 7-10
Desolation Wilderness      July 1-10 Entering Grades 9-12 (Max Age 17)*
Yosemite July 15-24 Entering Grades 8-12 (Max Age 17)*
Big Basin Skyline to Sea      July 29-August 3      Entering Grades 7-11




Teen Leadership

Our teen programs support growth, nurture self-expression, and unite teens which in turn paves the path for active citizens of the future. Our programs provide teens the opportunity to take the lead and inspire them to be the leaders of tomorrow.

  • Counselor/Leader-In-Training (LIT)
  • Wrangler-In-Training (WIT)
  • Junior Lifeguards
  • Junior Counselor



Teen Adventure Camps

Outdoor adventures are restorative – a time away from the expectations of family and school. Teen Adventure Camps provide challenging and novel experiences, from whitewater rafting, snowboarding in the Sierra, surfing the Pacific, or bicycling up the California coast. Youth develop independence, while also building community with others. The goal is to understand and push through your perceived boundaries, and having a safe outdoor experience among old friends and new.

This summer's trips include:

Session      Camp Name Dates
1   Big Sur Explorers June 17 - 21
2 Surf Camp June 24 - 29
3 White Water Rafting A             July 1 - 6
4 Y-Bike Touring July 8 - 13
5 White Water Rafting B July 15 - 20
6 Lake Tahoe Adventure July 22 - 27
  Yosemite Rock Climbing July 22 - 27
7 Super Camp July 29 - Aug 3