BOLD & GOLD Frequently Asked Questions

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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.