Paddle Boarding with StokeShare

paddle boards
Veronica joined StokeShare for a day of paddle boarding with local youth at China Camp.

StokeShare, a gear-sharing organization and community that also works to inspire love and advocacy for the outdoors through recreation, invited Save The Bay to come paddle boarding at China Camp State Park in San Rafael on Halloween. They were looking to bring several organizations together to give ten high school students from San Francisco a free day of recreation and education on the Bay. I normally work behind-the-scenes in the Save The Bay office, but it was an easy choice to volunteer for the job. Paddle boarding, China Camp, and the chance to meet people who are enthusiastic about recreating on the Bay? Sign me up!

This was my first visit to China Camp State Park. When I arrived, I was immediately struck by the beauty of the Bay waters. It was a perfectly still day, and the warm sun shining on China Camp’s historic village made for a serene scene. The volunteer docents greeted me warmly and shared that they talk to state park visitors about Save The Bay every day. We all shared the joy of having a common vision of constantly improving the Bay for future generations.

Building community on the water

Joel and Warren from StokeShare had organized volunteer instructors and paddle boards from a wide group of organizations, another testament to the sense of community that the Bay brings. Once the youth arrived, we all did a group safety training and got in the Bay. The weather was perfect, and everyone successfully stood on their boards. I could see that the youth were enjoying connecting with each other through the activity. It was fun to be outside, sharing our love for the outdoors while bobbing on the water. Everyone present had a permanent smile on their face during our time on the boards.

Inspiration in the brackish water

Going to the shoreline and getting on a paddle board was a personal reminder of why Save The Bay’s work is so important. I adore the perspective of viewing the bay from the water itself, whether it’s atop a ferry, kayak, or paddle board. Being so physically close to the water brings me a sense of being spiritually closer to nature. This personal connection is what fuels my desire to advocate for the Bay every day – whether I’m behind a desk or on a paddle board. After our time on the water, I talked to the kids about the importance of wetlands and the history of the Bay, and how they can each make an impact through their everyday habits. Joel from StokeShare encouraged them to follow their passion for the environment into a career path, using him and myself as examples. Hopefully we provided some inspiration to these high school students. Truly, I believe that the Bay spoke for itself, as we enjoyed the warm brackish water with each other’s company.

A huge thank you goes to Joel and Warren of StokeShare, and the variety of people and organizations that participated in this fantastic event on the water. StokeShare is a mission driven company that aims to create access to the outdoors for everyone. Joel Cesare and Warren Neilson are the co-founders, whose inspiration to begin their organization came to them while surfing at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. They both come from environmental backgrounds and are focusing their personal and professional efforts on environmental advocacy.

As StokeShare says, “people protect what they love, love what they know and know what they experience”. Get outside, enjoy the water, and spread the advocacy for the Bay that we all love.

 

5 Ways to Enjoy the Bay

 

Sailing on SF Bay
Photo by Rick Lewis.

Save The Bay’s restoration team and dedicated volunteers have been hard at work this summer making sure those pesky invasive plants are removed while watering the thousands of native plants that were installed during last winter. This Saturday July 20th, Save The Bay and REI are partnering for the 2nd annual Ring Around the Bay Day. Get outside with us and help restore the Bay. Sign up today!

We love working on the Bay, but we also love to play. I asked my Restoration Team what they have been up to this summer. Here are 5 fun ways to appreciate San Francisco Bay:

1. Boating. If you have been lucky enough come out to one of our Saturday public restoration events you have probably met Jon, known around the office as our “Inspector of Ingenious Innovation”. Jon works as the Restoration Project Specialist, but in between tending to his enormous garden or practicing his banjo he is learning to sail. He is well on his way to receiving his Junior Skipper certificate after long hours learning all the ins and outs of sailing on the Bay. “I grew up here and went to school at UC Berkeley, but I had never really experienced the Bay. Now I get to go out on the water and enjoy the bay up close and personal!” If you want to learn how to sail check out Cal Sailing Club.

Many of my co-workers that they have begun using the ferry more (especially during the BART strike) and they are even planning a trip to Angel Island. Many of the marshes that surround the Bay have canoe and kayak launches that can give you a unique opportunity to bird watch and explore the nooks and crannies of the salt marsh.

2. Mountain Biking. Seth is Save The Bay’s Restoration Program Manager and an avid outdoor enthusiast. When he is not running rivers as a guide in the Sierra foothills (which he explained was a part of the SF Bay’s watershed) he loves mountain biking around China Camp State Park. This park is a beautiful example of relict salt and brackish marsh with untouched upland transitional habitat.

3. Hiking. Check out the Bay Trail. It was not too long ago that the San Francisco Bay was in dire need of help. By the late 1950’s there were only about 4 miles of publicly accessible shoreline and unregulated pollution flowed freely into our water. With the help of people all across the Bay Area we have made the bay not just a body of water to drive over, but a place for every person to enjoy.

4. Rock climbing. When I asked Doug, our Nursery Manager and jack of almost all trades (he has yet to learn the rules to Jai Alai), how he has been enjoying his summer he told me about his urban rock climbing adventures. One of the best places to rock climb which puts the bay front and center is Indian Rock in Berkeley.

5. Kite flying. I was recently working at one of our many restoration sites and as the fog burned off I began to feel the summer heat. Invasive fennel is no joke! As I pick axed my way through another massive fennel plant I was beginning to feel the initial eagerness to take on such a formidable foe waning with every bead of sweat dripping off my head. But then, the cool bay breeze began to blow giving me a respite from the midday sun. I use that wonderful bay wind to my advantage when my friends and I go to Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley to fly kites. I never realized how much fun it could be to be tugged around by the wind! There are many parks right on the bay that provide a perfect opportunity to fly a kite.

I hope you enjoy the Bay this summer. Come join us for a restoration event near you. What are your favorite ways to enjoy the Bay? Tell us in the comments below.

 

China Camp State Park: A San Francisco Bay Treasure

China Camp tour
Save The Bay supporters tour China Camp with Donna Ball and Doug Serrill.

Last weekend Save The Bay’s Nursery Manager, Doug Serrill and I had the opportunity to take advantage of the warm spring weather and hike two of the many trails at China Camp State Park with a number of Save The Bay Board members, guests, family, and friends.   Group participants included long-time supporters and founding members of Save The Bay, new Save The Bay members, and long-time conservationists who have worked hard over their lifetime to preserve and protect important wetlands around San Francisco Bay.

China Camp has a rich history as a Coast Miwok hunting ground, Chinese shrimping village, and more recently as a State Park.  Our group of 40 guests and staff arrived early in the morning eager to hike and learn about the area.   We divided into two groups and each group had the chance to learn about the ecology of tidal marshes and to see one of the few remaining relict marshes of San Francisco Bay, while the other group learned about native grasses and oak woodlands and got to view the spring wildflowers on the hill slopes above the marsh.   Being outdoors on a beautiful Saturday morning was incredible, but more importantly it was an amazing opportunity to share the morning with people who have a common passion for the work of Save The Bay and for protecting and preserving wetlands and valuable places like China Camp that make San Francisco Bay such a wonderful place to live.

There were a surprising number of people in our group who had never been to China Camp.   If you too have never been there, be sure to find time soon to visit this State Park gem with 1,500 acres of hiking, biking, and picnicking opportunities situated at the edge of San Pablo Bay.  China Camp is currently operated by Friends of China Camp who work with the California State Parks to ensure that China Camp is available to everyone 365 days a year.  If you would like to know more, visit www.friendsofchinacamp.org.