Feeling welcome in the outdoors is not a given for all young people in the Tahoe Basin. That’s why the Tahoe Fund supports programs that are helping more kids experience the benefits of nature, like Gateway Mountain Center’s Youth Ecology and Adventure Camps (YEA! Camps).
YEA! Camps are a free program for high-risk Tahoe youth to help them overcome adversity and develop crucial life skills such as adaptability, communication, and empowerment through outdoor adventure and mindfulness lessons. The camps help young people build a strong connection to themselves, their community and the natural world, all while learning how to become environmental stewards.
Last summer, YEA! Camp counselors saw their campers develop strong connections to the outdoors while they learned important life lessons. They shared in lively discussions with campers about how the choices they make now – like vaping or smoking – might impact their ability to recreate outdoors as they age.
Campers who were experiencing frustration in their personal lives found solace in new activities like rock climbing. By the end of the summer, the campers would proudly pick up trash and point out graffiti as they became more aware of the leave no trace principles and the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem to live in.
Thanks to support from Tahoe Fund donors, YEA! Camps were able to expand their programs and are now serving under-resourced communities in North and South Lake Tahoe.