October  2015                                                                                     e Newsletter   Issue No. 21
Kahlil breathing in the High Sierras

Fall is a season of transition, and this fall YES is celebrating many of the successful transitions we have made within our programming and organizationally to strengthen our impact in 2016. This past summer a new day camp was added to our roster of Summer Camp experiences to engage our youngest campers, and new partnerships with groups like Outward Bound exposed our YES teens to a different side of the wild outdoors. 

With direction from our new fundraising and strategic plans, the successes from efforts like the recent Rock in the Redwoods benefit concert and our Walk to Nature community event were magnified. We look forward to the new pathways and opportunities that 2016 has in store for our YES community and invite you to join our journey in the months ahead. 
Eric Aaholm, Executive Director

NEW this SUMMER: Day Camps to Sleepover Camps

This summer YES teamed up with East Bay Regional Park District to offer a week of Park'n It Day Camp to 46 Richmond youth, ages 5-12. Day camps in nearby regional parks afforded a more local YES camp experience, and eased the transition for cautious campers and hesitant parents. This new camp opportunity also opened doors to younger children ages 5-7 who are not yet old enough for YES sleep-away camps.

For a whole week Park'n It Day Campers had the opportunity to explore five different local regional parks with daily activities such as hiking, swimming, team building games, arts and crafts, and park ecology education.

When the week was over, children were able to successfully identify their favorite park and reported feeling safer in the outdoors and knowing more about nature, plants and animals. Five of the day campers were so inspired by their camp experience, that they enrolled in an additional week of YES sleep-away summer camp! We look forward to another year of Park'n It Day Camp next summer.







Thanks to a new partnership with Outward Bound, a renowned outdoor-education organization, 11 of YES's Camp to Community (C2C) teen youth had the opportunity to expand their horizons on a threeday backpacking trip in late spring. Some of the youth had previous experience with backpacking, but for 14-year-old C2C youth, Kahlil, this excursion to Castle Rock State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains was the first type of backpacking adventure he had ever had.  
Energized by his experience, when Outward Bound offered a YES youth a spot on a two week backpacking trip this summer in the High Sierras, Kahlil was ready and willing to take his new backpacking skills to the next level.

Reflecting on his trip, Kahlil enjoyed seeing a bear cub and sleeping under the stars each night. With a three year grant secured through Save the Redwoods League this summer, YES and Outward Bound look forward to making extended wilderness experiences come true for Kahlil and many more C2C teens in the year ahead.

Walking to Nature with our Richmond Community

On August 29th, YES united 16 community agencies and drew over 380 people to the streets of Richmond to participate in our 3rd Annual Walk to Nature event.   

The two mile walk began on the Richmond Greenway in Central Richmond and ended at Keller Beach in Miller Knox Regional Shoreline with free lunch and family activities.  The purpose of the walk is to promote physical activity and good health while connecting with one's community in nature. According to 110 people surveyed at the event, 28% had never been to Keller Beach before and 100% said they were excited to come back.
This is great news as many families living in Richmond's lowest income neighborhoods have limited access to nature and express a hesitancy to go outdoors.  As one Walk to Nature participant stated in 2014, "When you live in the city, sometimes everything seems hard, even the steps you take as you walk down the sidewalk. The concrete is hard. Walk to Nature helped me see there is more to Richmond. When you look around and you can actually see that there is nature in the city, it takes that hardness out. "

On average, YES hosts four Day Outings each year for Richmond families. The annual Walk to Nature event is a large-scale partner event to promote health and wellness outdoors and is open to the entire community. To see photos from this year's Walk to Nature event, click here.

Rock in the Redwoods a Resounding Success!

It is with tremendous gratitude that we thank our Rock in the Redwoods attendees, sponsors, volunteers and Little Marvin & the Gardeners for creating a successful fundraising event for YES on Saturday September 12th. With 350 people in attendance enjoying a beautiful evening, YES raised the funds to cover camp scholarships for 95 kids next summer!
Special thanks to Todd Hodson of Marvin Gardens Real Estate for supporting YES throughout the years, and creating Rock in the Redwoods to benefit YES's families and children.

Dance under the stars with us next year at our 3rd annual Rock in the Redwoods on September 10, 2016. Visit our  Rock in the Redwoods event page  on the YES website to get more information. If you weren't able to attend the event, but would still like to help a YES youth or family attend camp this coming year, please consider making a donation.


"My daughters, ages 6 and 7, looked forward to returning to the day camp every single day. I am so grateful they were able to attend because I am not able to take my children out to the local parks on a regular basis. They talked to me about visiting museums, riding on hikes, learning about animals and all the exploring they did while at camp. I am excited to register them again next summer, and they are looking forward to being enrolled in sleep away summer camp when they are old enough." 

YES parent, 2015