Presidio of San Francisco (September 5, 2008) -- Thousands of Bay Area children who have never camped under the stars in a national park will soon have that opportunity as the Presidio breaks ground on expansion of its Rob Hill Campground. The only overnight campsite within San Francisco is being improved with support from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. It will be the site of the Camping at the Presidio (CAP) program, as well as a venue for group camping, from schools to scouts.
"We believe the Presidio is a tremendous resource for the children and families of San Francisco," said Craig Middleton, executive director of the Presidio Trust, the federal agency that preserves the military post turned public park. "The outdoor experiences offered by national parks can be transformational for young people."
Rob Hill Campground is a little known treasure that sits atop the Presidio's highest point, in a stand of eucalyptus trees overlooking Baker Beach and the Pacific. For decades it has welcomed scouts, school groups, and families for a wilderness experience just a stone's throw from city life. The rustic site, which has traditionally featured just two campfire rings and minimal amenities, will receive a face lift making it more accessible, comfortable, and welcoming.
Shovels go in the ground this week. When completed, the campground will include four group campsites, new restrooms, a large stone campfire circle, and an indoor gathering place for educational programs. New trees will be planted as part of the Presidio Trust's ongoing efforts to sustain the park's aging forest. The campsite is expected to reopen in summer 2009. With the planned improvements, the campsite could eventually serve some 20,000 people each year.
Rob Hill Campground also will be the home of the Camping at the Presidio Program (CAP), which provides overnight camping experiences for children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to visit a national park. Operated by the Presidio Trust, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and Bay Area Wilderness Training, the program trains adults from community organizations and schools to provide camping experiences for their youngsters. In its first year, CAP trained 26 adult leaders and brought almost 300 children to the campground. In the next five years, the program will serve more than 10,000 children.
Rob Hill will also continue to welcome groups and families. The Presidio Trust will begin taking reservations for the 2009 season in January.
The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to manage the Presidio of San Francisco, a former army base located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1,500-acre site contains the infrastructure of a small city as well as expansive open space, a 300-acre historic forest, spectacular views, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. It comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to its status as a National Historic Landmark District, making it unlike any other national park. In establishing the Trust, Congress mandated that it make the park financially self-sufficient by 2013. The Trust is the only federal agency with this mandate."