Outdoor Opportunities for All
Partners in Developing the Next Generation of Environmental Stewards
Camping, like many Y programs, is about learning skills, developing character and making friends. But few environments are as special as camp, where kids become a community as they learn both how to be more independent and how to contribute to a group as they engage in physical, social and educational activities.
Providing our young people with outdoor experiences makes for a stronger connection to nature and the outdoors, leading to better understanding of the world around us, the environment and why it is important to preserve our natural resources and protect our nation’s public lands.
Bringing Youth Outdoors Together Summer Camp Program
The Y and U.S. National Park service launched this multi-site initiative in 2015 with 16 local Ys. So far, thousands of young people, particularly from underserved communities, have participated in weeklong outdoor experiences and excursions to their local national park.
The program is a multi-site initiative that engages 16 local Ys to provide thousands of young people, particularly underserved communities, with weeklong outdoor experiences and excursions to their local national park. Centered on recreation, conservation and service, the program provides the following:
- Unique recreational opportunities
- Learning experiences in nature and history
- Service experience through simple, memorable work projects
- Continued leadership development through work experiences for staff and volunteers
Each year, Ys have served double the number of participants required by the grant and have leveraged and matched funds one-to-one. In 2021 alone, over 7,500 children and teens had their first YMCA/NPS summer camp experience, 1,868 participated in service projects and 512 18–25-year-olds were employed as counselors in the program. To date, the Y has provided more than 66,000 children with their first national park experience through the program.
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Developing Happy and Healthy Kids
The YMCA supports kids' emotional, cognitive and physical growth through programs focused on education and care outside of school. Through advocacy, we can expand these opportunities to reach more children.