After a much deserved holiday break, the Bay Area Wilderness Training team and I are back at it and in full swing. Last weekend, our Program Director, Aaron Gilbert, hosted the annual Instructor Retreat with 23 of our amazing faculty members. We are all fired up for another successful year of getting more teachers trained and getting more youth outdoors. Please join us for our first celebration of the year on February 1st at the Grand Opening of our new warehouse and office space in Milpitas.For 2015, we are committed to developing new strategic partnerships with school districts, land management agencies, and educational and youth services organizations. As we look for growth opportunities, please continue to support us and join us for trainings, alumni gatherings, volunteer days, fundraisers, and celebrations throughout the coming year. And if you are a youth worker or teacher, you can join our #BecauseofBAWT storytelling campaign, where all participants will get an opportunity to win gear for their youth.
See you out on the trail!
Bay Area Wilderness Training
Over the New Year holiday, BAWT-trained leader, Kristina Molina took a group from Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR) on a four-day healing retreat and snowshoeing adventure. She took 11 sexually-assaulted Latino youth and 4 state certified rape crisis counselors to Mount Shasta. For the trip, they borrowed 208 items from the BAWT Gear Library, from snowshoes and sleeping bags to gloves and hats. Kristina had this to share about the experience.
“Now I know why penguins have happy feet, because snow makes you feel so happy,” said one youth who at age 16 was her first time touching snow. Raised in Oakland, one of the most violent cities in the nation, and being sexually abused by her father for five years, the young survivor never imagined that she would have the opportunity to touch a snowflake one day. The trip was a total success! Counselors witnessed many of their young survivors laugh, play, draw, build, run, jump, sing and gleam with happiness in the snow. Thanks to BAWT, this was a dream made come true. Without their gear and generous scholarships, this trip would have been financially impossible to make.Since 2009, with the help of BAWT, BAWAR has taken low- income Latino youth, who have suffered sexual abuse, to partake in an overnight healing camping trip. The scope of the retreat is to help survivors of sexual assault regain a sense of power and control by using nature as a tool of empowerment and positive coping mechanism.
If you missed our panel discussion on Diversity in the Outdoor in May, you now have a chance to watch portions of what our panelists shared about their experiences as people of color in the outdoors. This discussion about diversity and the broader discussion about inclusion and equity within the outdoors community is central to the Bay Area Wilderness Training mission.
Please take some time to view the videos, and feel free to share them with your friends, colleagues, and community. Here is an excerpt of one of our panelist’s thoughts and experience.
“I think we’ve set up a hierarchy of: backpacking is better than picnicking. Because picnicking is something that I think is very endemic to a lot of communities of color- going to a park and having a grill with your huge family is something that I think is across the board very popular among people of color. But why do we say that that’s not “outdoors”? Why do we look at that as lower than backpacking or climbing or something like that? I think that’s also something we need to think about when we’re thinking about activities and how we’re engaging people. Why are we looking at one as higher? “Well it’s nice if you do this, but this is what’s really better.” And I actually think that backpackers and climbers and those of us who do those kind of extreme things who have built and created that hierarchy really need to check ourselves on that.”
– Zoe Polk, Outdoor Afro
Welcome to BAWT
We warmly welcome our new, wonderful Development and Program Interns to the team!
Ben Doyle – Development Intern
Ben Doyle got raised up on the rolling hills of West Virginia and a piece of his heart resides there still. Ben earned a B.A. in philosophy at Guilford College and spent much of his early 20s climbing trees, rocks and buildings when necessary. After schooling, Ben jumped into a 5-year career as a wilderness therapy field instructor with stints teaching at NOLS. In 2007 Ben moved to Utah, Arizona and in 2009, his restless soul found a home in Yosemite. Ben worked as a climbing ranger for 4 years, striving to build partnerships for education, access and conservation in Yosemite. Now Ben is happily married to his true love Sara Vera and lives in San Francisco.
Xavier Soto – Program Intern
Xavier grew up and has lived in Oakland California most of his life. He got his first taste of the outdoors at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. Xavier discovered BAWT through the fantastic Outdoor Educators Institute, a 10 week program aimed at providing opportunities for local Bay Area youth of color to become leaders in the outdoor industry. Xavier also works for the Student Conservation Association as a crew leader.
Stacey Lee – Program Intern
Stacey’s hometown is Sacramento, but she considers herself a Bay Area native after living in San Jose for over 9 years. Her outdoor enthusiasm stems from her recent years spent at UC Davis, where she graduated in International Economics with a minor in Chinese. After volunteering as a naturalist in Woodland, she suddenly decided to obtain a second minor in Community and Regional Development. She devotes the majority her free time to trekking and camping at parks mostly along the Pacific coast. The rest of the time, she’ll volunteer at a small community farm or support local artists.
February 7, 2015 (Sat); pre-trip mtg Wed, Feb. 4 in Oakland
BAWT’s mission is to create opportunities for youth from the San Francisco Bay Area to experience wilderness first-hand. To achieve our mission, we train teachers and youth workers, provide outdoor gear loans, give financial support, and foster community collaboration.
Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT) is a project of the Earth Island Institute a 501(c)3 corporation.