Camping and Outdoor Leadership 2021 Highlights

Last updated: September 16, 2021, at 10:38 a.m. PT

Originally published: September 15, 2021, at 5:53 a.m. PT

Camping and Outdoor Leadership 2021 Highlights

As the kicked-up dust from our summer campers settles, we're reflecting on all of the outdoor experiences made possible for so many kids and teens. Here are just a few of the the highlights, stories and stats.

Boys & Girls Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD & GOLD)

One summer highlight was the launch of Beyond City Limits, a new trip model designed to provide an introductory sampling of outdoor experiences. Developed from community partner dialogue and participants’ feedback from a 2020 pilot program, the program includes a day each of rock climbing, kayaking, and a single-night backpacking experience. By combining single-day and overnight experiences, Beyond City Limits builds technical skills while gently expanding outdoor comfort zones and lays the foundation for a future path towards longer, deeper wilderness experiences. Beyond City Limits was an overwhelming success with 100% of participants indicating they would like to go backpacking again. One parent said, “This was perfect for my daughter. We have been camping before, but just don’t have the things needed to backpack and this was a great introduction. We’ll be coming back next year.”  

The Y is honored to have been awarded a WA State No Child Left Inside matching grant for this program. Any gift to Seattle BOLD & GOLD will be matched. Your gift creates opportunities for more young people to get outdoors and appreciate our public lands.

Camp Orkila 

Camp Orkila

This was a truly incredible summer at Camp Orkila. Making memories, new experiences, strengthened values, and character building are immeasurable…and the lost socks are just innumerable. Numbers help tell the story and provide a glimpse into Y summer programs impact. 

Operating safely through COVID entailed: 

  • Over 18,000 symptom screenings 
  • More than 2,000 COVID tests administered 
  • 60,000 and counting meals served outdoors and to cabin groups of 5 campers! 
  • Over 2,000 people experienced life-changing, in-person, outdoor experiences, including:  
    • 786 campers ziplining 
    • About 1,700 campers polar bearing (running in the ocean before breakfast!) 
    • 4 Orca pods sightings as they swam by Orkila inspiring awe and wonder 
  • 151 Teen Expedition campers launched on 22 kayak trips around the San Juan Islands, including 2 new combination kayak-backpack trips, and Orkila’s 40-plus year-old Leadership Development Institute (LDI) program. 

The fall season has kicked-off and Camping & Outdoor Leadership programs are serving school groups and families. Learn more and register for a weekend at camp or a day of climbing

  YMCA Camp Colman

Camp Colman

Join us in welcoming our new Camp Executive Director, Danielia Barron!  Danielia, aka “Latte,” brings non-profit leadership experience and has worked at two other Y Camps – Camp Thunderbird in South Carolina and Frost Valley in New York. At this critical time for Camp Colman, where we reimagine our future in a post-COVID world and collaborate with the state to adapt changes to the lagoon, Danielia is the leader we need to bring us through this time of transition stronger than ever before. She jumped into summer camp on August 9 with both feet. Send her a note of welcome at:

When Danielia first arrived at Camp Colman, the oldest campers made an awesome impression. She shared, “Having recently arrived, I was able to look at camp with fresh eyes. Everyone needed camp this summer and this was most apparent with the teens. As teens arrived at camp, the energy elevated. They were clearly ready, open, and excited for the week. As the week progressed, I was delighted to find teen campers getting curious, leaning into camp and really making the most of their time at Colman. They were at the beach learning and exploring without Google and taking in a perfect Colman sunset without taking a picture, just committing it to memory. The culmination was closing campfire when almost every camper got on stage and shared a final thought about their experience. Some campers were at camp for the first time and shared the impact their counselors and cabin mates had, and many were returning campers who expressed how surprisingly great of a change it was to spend more time with a small cohort group. I can't wait to create another wonderful experience for campers next year!” 

New Cabin Update

We’re thrilled to announce a new cabins update! The commitment and excitement for building three new cabins – Bosco, Cruzen, and Nichols – remains strong and moving forward.  We are excited to have permits issued for these cabins, however significant water system upgrades are needed prior to occupancy.  Fundraising and grant writing continues! We are all eager for the day these cabins are filled with the joyful sounds of campers. 

Learn more about all Camping and Outdoor Leadership Programs