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.