The YMCA believes that time spent outdoors helps us be our healthiest, best selves.

At the Y, we provide healthy outdoor opportunities for all members of our communities.

Youth today are spending less time outdoors than any generation in human history. Forty-two percent of low-income parents in California say their children have never participated in outdoor activities, like camping or outdoor educational programming. This decrease in time spent outdoors coincides with the skyrocketing rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, anxiety, and depression.

Just miles from the beach, so many of the children we serve from the San Francisco Bay Area have never seen the ocean.

The Y Approach to Connecting Youth to Nature

The YMCA of San Francisco utilizes outdoor spaces, program expertise and strong partnerships to provide access to safe and open spaces within the communities we serve.

Outdoor Education

Our Outdoor Education & Leadership programs provide environmental education, leadership development, and community service opportunities for youth. Students learn ecology, nature awareness, and sustainability.

Program Highlights

Teen Leadership Training

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.

Program Highlights:


At Y Camp, kids have the opportunity to make friends, have fun, get active, and discover who they are and what they can achieve as they engage in physical, social, educational and outdoor activities.

Program Highlights:

“This camp has taught me a lot about myself, things I might have hidden from myself.”

Program Highlight

Y Rangers

Y Ranters is a partnership between the YMCA of the USA, the Department of the Interior, and the National League of Cities. Y Rangers is a part of the national campaign to connect youth to their public outdoor spaces. This technology-free program gives campers the chance to learn about the historic, recreation and volunteer opportunities available in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, as well as local state and local parks. Y Rangers will meet real Park Rangers and end the week with a Ranger-led campfire complete with stories, games and s’mores.

All campers will have a chance to give back to these spaces through age-specific service projects. Campers will explore Golden Gate National Recreation Area and California State Park sites such as Muir Woods, the Presidio, Alcatraz Island, Angel Island, Hyde Street Pier and the Marin Headlands–81,000 acres of open space spread across 15 sites all over the Bay Area.

“Camp pushed me to step out of my comfort zone. I faced my fears and that made me braver. Everyone is encouraging and helpful.”