The Beauty of the Great Outdoors

I got back from a wonderful outdoors service project Saturday evening. I was a facilitator for a group of ten excellent, eager college freshman.

We left the University of the Pacific at 9 am on Friday. We drove to the YMCA Point Bonita branch in Mill Valley above San Francisco. It was freezing when we arrived! We dropped all our stuff in the old military barracks we were sleeping in that night and then we met in our group. We played a few "get to know you" games and explored the area. We hiked up mountains and down to the beach. I definitely got my work out in for the day. We returned and ate dinner, delicious Mexican food that was so good, people were scrapping the guacamole bowl! We then had s'mores and enjoyed a warm but mercifully short campfire. We then dragged out tired selves to bed.

The next morning we were up and the very reasonable time of seven and got dressed for a day of service work. Groups were spread out and engaged in an array of volunteer work. Some groups cleaned sand dunes and up and around the housing units at Point Bonita. Other groups fixed up fire circles and built boxes to house fire logs. My group did awesome work. We sanded and cleaned the benches around the fire pit, we packed up and organized items in the Discovery Room (anywhere from sea shells to rocks to bones), and general clean up around the camp. I had the good fortune to do some fun work: trail maintenance.

A group of about twelve of us hiked a mountain, over the ridge, down the other side, down into a valley, through the valley and down a steep, loose-rock hill to a secluded rocky beach.
It was a beautiful hike and we were blessed with a clear day. We could see the whole city, the Golden Gate AND the Bay Bridge. Along the way, we took out invasive plants and cut back plants that were growing into the trail. We were huffing and puffing after climbing on our hands and feet up from the beach, but it was worth it. Another place that was worked in that I wish I had was the garden.

This place is amazing: they grow all their food and recycle it back into compost to grow more food! They are an inspiration and it is a great place to bring kids to to learn about their outside world and how important and connected it and we all are. The YMCA staff were excellent; all helpful and knowledgeable, and the food was delicious! There's nothing like hot soup on a cold day.