Because of You: The Ruiz Family goes to Camp 

Last updated: November 9, 2021, at 4:06 p.m. PT

Originally published: October 12, 2021, at 3:38 p.m. PT

A photo of a family camping in nature.

A growing body of research suggests that time spent in nature improves a person’s whole health and has positive effects for communities, but opportunities to access the outdoors have not  grown to match the population boom in Western Washington. This means that many kids, families, and adults don’t have equal access.  

Outdoor experiences and exploration of the nature around us is at the heart of mental and physical health, social and emotional learning, and should be a right for all children. The outdoors build strong families but camping and going to camp isn’t financially an option for all.  

Thanks to generous donors, the Y provides financial assistance so all may experience the life-changing experience of camp. This year, the Ruiz family attended Family Camp at Camp Colman. It was their first experience with many camp traditions: hiking, fishing, campfires, communing with nature and meeting camp cabin neighbors. John and Nina Ruiz were apprehensive at first, being the only Spanish speaking family, but they quickly felt at home.   

The Ruiz Family watched their 3-year-old son, a small powerhouse who is bright and curious, spend endless hours exploring the new environments and sleeping more soundly at night than they had ever thought possible. Their daughter similarly spent the week taking in every possible opportunity to be outside and at the end of the week, and for weeks after, asked the same question of her parents: “When will we go back to camp?”    

John, who lost his mother to cancer last year was moved by the sense of deep connection this time allowed for him and his family. His favorite thing to do was to wake early and sit by the water in the stillness at the start of the day, reflecting on the beauty of this place.   

It is one of the Y’s foundational beliefs that shared outdoor experiences make families and communities more resilient. Access to camp is about finding new ways to grow as individuals and communities, as well as finding spaces for healing.   

This visit to Camp Colman inspired the Ruiz’s to continue their outdoor family adventures and plan future camping trips. The Ruiz’s visit to camp is the first in a new family tradition of learning, growth, peace, and family bonding in the outdoors.   

Now, more than ever, kids and families are in need of meaningful, fun outdoor experiences. Family camp is one of the safest ways to experience the outdoors because families stay together in cabins and gather with other family groups outdoors in the open air. To make family camp truly accessible to all, we rely on donors to support families who would otherwise be left out.   

In all Y programs, we are working to address the issue of race head on and understand that we live in a society that offers one group of people advantages based on the color of their skin, while systematically oppressing other groups. In the outdoors, for example, the National Park system has been justly lauded as “America’s best idea,” but we must also acknowledge that the parks originally excluded people of color. Given that history, it becomes easier to understand why minorities may continue to feel unwelcome in the outdoors.  

As a Y donor, you are providing camping experiences for communities that have been historically excluded from camping and the outdoors. This investment is helping to create a world where young people have the emotional intelligence, courage, and compassion to be positive multicultural leaders in their communities. Thank you! 

Learn more about Camp Colman programs.