I’m thrilled to announce our biggest milestone yet — over 31,000 underserved youth have gone on BAWT-supported trips since 1999!
We’ve also trained over 1,200 teachers and youth workers, and are on track to reach 6,000 more youth this year. We can’t do it without your help!
Please keep your eyes peeled for news of our Giving Tuesday program (December 3, the day after Cyber Monday).
A big shout out to everyone who supported our Into the Wild fundraising breakfast, the volunteers who help us get kids outdoors, and your continued generosity and belief in the work we’re doing including low-cost teacher training and free outdoor gear loans to help connect young people with the natural world.
Each time I see a group borrowing gear, or a new youth worker getting trained, I know we are all truly making a difference in the future of the planet.
See you out on the trail!
Bay Area Wilderness Training
Inspiration Times Four
One of the many youth workers we’re thankful for this holiday season is Molly Bucovec, who with her co-worker Roz Silva of Contra Costa Youth Continuum of Services took Camping at the Presidio (CAP) Frontcountry Leadership Training in March.
Inspired by all she learned, Molly raised over $1,400 for Bay Area Wilderness Training by Backpacking for Kids in Big Sur! She also took BAWT’s Wilderness Leadership Training and in June, she and Roz led, “an amazing, eye-opening trip to Rob Hill Campground in the Presidio,” with their organization’s group of 18- to 22-year old homeless and transitional youth. Below are notable excerpts from their first ever camping trip … and guess what? Her youth want more time outdoors!
“We work with a very transient population, with many changes happening all the time — so it was interesting that these really urban youth with pretty minimal exposure to nature were so excited about it. They loved being outside, campfires, learning more about the Presidio and seeing different plants. We did a closing activity where we reflected on how they were impacted by the natural environment, so different than being in the middle of Richmond.”
“When you live in a city and are on guard all the time, the opportunity to be in a natural environment without stress is incredibly powerful for these kids. A lot of them talked about how calm and peaceful they felt. One youth articulated it really well; he said, ‘I’m a former gang banger, I have to be hard all the time, and being here I can just let go.’ It was incredibly powerful for him—he’s a hard, tough kid and he was like a different person!
Other feedback we got from many of the youth is that they ended up feeling a lot closer to each other and to us as staff after this trip.” “Just seeing the enthusiasm they had for the outdoors and the release it provided them from daily stresses was very powerful. A lot of our youth are already saying, ‘When can we go back? When can we go on a longer trip? We want to go different places!’
So Roz and I are beginning to plan—we’re thinking of developing a hiking club so we can go on daytrips, it’s still getting out of Richmond and being in the woods for a bit.”
News You Can Use:
New River Crossing Techniques
We’re always looking for ways to improve our training and curriculum. This spring, we updated our recommended river crossing techniques to align with those used in the field by organizations like Outward Bound and National Outdoor Leadership School. Have fun outdoors and if you come across any high water, be safe!
Solo: Facing upstream using shuffle steps and one or two poles for additional stability.
Pairs: Two people crossing together face each other with the stronger person facing downstream, the weaker facing upstream. Get a firm grasp on each other’s shoulders; use shuffle steps with mirrored legs (left for the upstream person coordinated with right for the downstream person). The advantage: upstream person blocks the current for downstream person, while downstream person provides important stability for upstream person.
Triangle: One of the most stable options for crossing! Use the “Pairs” principles with three people instead of two. Only one person moves at a time, while the other two provide stability and support.
The Line: Three or more people form a line facing upstream, one behind the other. The first upstream person should hold a pole or stick for stability, moving first to create an eddy for the next person to step into. Chain-link: The whole group links arms and crosses together facing the opposite bank.
Rope & Hand Lines: Use only as a last option after other methods have proven ineffective! Improperly used hand lines can actually hold someone underwater in strong current! Always face upstream and hold the hand line upstream from you. (Put another way, cross on the downstream side of the hand line.) Never cross on the upstream side of a hand line.
Avoid setting the line over trees, boulders, shrubs or other major obstacles in the river that could cause entrapment or prevent assistance if someone falls.
Line should be taut, approximately 5-6 feet above the surface of the water. Note that it will stretch and dip toward the middle of the crossing, so starting with it high is important. A low line can lead to possible entrapment if someone falls.
Line should be straight across or angled very slightly downstream to take advantage of the current. NOTE: This contradicts all other crossing methods, which advice you should either cross in an upstream direction or straight across.
Longfellow Elementary School
We are honored to receive very heartfelt (and artful!) ‘Thank You’ letters from San Francisco students who participated in Camping at the Presidio. See more on our Facebook Page.
In September, the Bay Area Wilderness Training community lost Jose Durante. He worked with the Mosaic Project teaching peace to youth. He was a youth pastor at New Hope Covenant Church. He volunteered in our gear library. He was a graduate of our Wilderness Leadership Training.
And most of all he was a mensch, a person of true integrity and honor. Jose’s laughter brightened the day. While I only new him a short time, I got to know his best qualities. He was extremely generous and he was playful.
The last time I saw Jose he was encouraging another youth worker who was dropping off gear to give him one dollar to buy a share in a pool of lottery tickets he bought each week. He assured her that if they won she would get her share of the winnings. It seemed silly, but to Jose it was fun and he wanted everyone to be a part of it. Jose will be dearly missed by many people in the Bay Area. Please send your love to Jose, and keep the ones you love close to your heart.
Program Director, Bay Area Wilderness Training
New Gear on Its Way!
We attended the Outdoor Retailer (OR) Show in Salt Lake City to solicit gear donations in August. This high-octane trade show is open to gear manufacturers and retailers, and BAWT relies on these high quality donations for our free gear libraries to loan out. We also award fundraisers who participate in Climbing for Kids and Backpacking For Kids Adventure Fundraising Programs.
Scott and Aaron forged new relationships, cemented old ones, and networked like crazy. For gear heads and non-gear heads alike, this event is exciting with much to be learned each time! Thank you to The North Face ($10,000 in gear and cash donations), Eureka! ($22,000 in gear), Osprey Backpacks ($10,000 in gear), Columbia ($15,000 in gear) and Outside Magazine ($15,000 in advertising discounts).