Nurturing Leaders through Outdoor Experiences

Last updated: January 3, 2019, at 1:40 p.m. PT

Originally published: November 27, 2018, at 8:07 a.m. PT

Last year, the YMCA of Greater Seattle provided more opportunities than ever before for young people and their families to spend time outside!

 In the Boys Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD) and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development (GOLD) programs, teens worked together while taking on physical and technical challenges in the wilderness alongside peers from different racial, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds.These teenagers collectively hiked a total of 19,000+ miles, consumed over 900 pounds of GORP (good old raisins and peanuts!), and summited two of the state’s tallest mountains – Mt. Baker and Mt. Olympus.

Whether it was a middle schooler’s first night outdoors at Camp Colman or a high schooler on a weeklong backpacking expedition in the North Cascades, more kids and teens experienced the outdoors with the Y’s overnight and day camp programs.

As participant numbers grew, so did the Y’s waitlists. But thanks to a generous gift to the Opportunities for All Capital Campaign, the Y will be able to purchase a third camp property in 2018: the first new YMCA of Greater Seattle camp in nearly 100 years! In addition, the Camping & Outdoor Leadership programs awarded over $1 million in financial assistance for young people to attend summer camp, participate in outdoor environment education with their school, or join a wilderness expedition thanks to the support of donors via the Y's Annual Fund Drive. The Y in continually focused and working hard to ensure that experiences in the outdoors are truly available for all, regardless of age, experience, ability, or financial status.

Last year, the Y introduced several new programs designed to increase community representation in camping experiences. Programs like the first-ever African American Males Weekend (a partnership with 100 Black Families), as well as LGBTQ and Islamic Family Camps were successful at drawing in hundreds of new families to participate. Everything the Y did in camp and outdoor leadership this year was more than just getting people outside and having fun. It was a chance to practice some of the most important skills needed to be successful in life: problem solving, leadership development, working in a group, and facing fears – while making new friends along the way.

Did you know? Last year the Y:

  • Hosted 28,700 children, teens, and families in a camp or outdoor leadership program – the most in the Y’s history.
  • Helped one in six kids who attended a camp or summer program with financial assistance from the Y.
  • Provided 12,431 children and teens with outdoor environmental education.
  • Worked with 170 participants, who attended the first-ever African-American Males weekend at Camp Orkila.

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Category: Camp