Skip to Content

Presidio to Host Archaeology Camps

Summer camps, run in partnership with the YMCA, will expose 4th-8th graders to archaeology



Presidio of San Francisco (June 12, 2009) — In the words of Alice Cooper: “School’s out for summer.” Although that may be cause for celebration for kids, for parents it means the start of the search for something fun and educational to keep their children active and safe.

Parents need look no further than the Presidio, home to a half-dozen day camps including the Presidio Trust’s Archaeology Summer Camps. Offered in partnership with the Presidio Community YMCA, the camps allow fourth through eighth graders the chance to investigate the Presidio’s past through hands-on experimental archaeology activities. From learning how to twine rope from plant fibers to forming a ceramic whistle from clay, students will explore the park’s history through archaeological inquiry and discovery.

“Our summer camps, like all of our education programs, aspire to spark curiosity about the past, broaden understanding about history, and promote stewardship into the future. By connecting community members to the park, its past and our shared cultural heritage, we are developing the next generation of park stewards,” says Katie Ahern, coordinator of education programs for the Archaeology Lab.

The camps are an extension of the Presidio’s archaeology program, which aims to preserve and protect the Presidio’s underground treasures and educate the public about the park’s past. Park archaeologists ensure important archaeological features are preserved as buildings are rehabilitated, landscapes maintained, and infrastructure upgraded. They also lead kids’ programs, host open excavations in the field, and invite the public on walking tours. Tens of thousands of artifacts unearthed in the field are analyzed, catalogued and displayed in the Trust’s archaeology lab.

The Archaeology Camps are among more than a dozen specialty, day, and sports camps being offered by the Trust and the Presidio Community YMCA as part of its 10 weeks of summer camp. All campers spend at least one day a week hiking and exploring the Presidio.

“We’re so lucky to have the Presidio in our backyard here at the Presidio Community YMCA,” says Kelly Meehan, the YMCA’s camp director. “We use the park on a daily basis, hiking its trails, exploring nature and just being outdoors playing group games and sports.”

A sample of the enthusiastic responses from fourth graders shows just how popular the camps are:

“I liked when we made adobe bricks because we did something that people did long ago.”
“A long time ago, Mexicans and the Ohlone actually built and left behind things we are now standing on today.”
“The coolest fact that I learned was that one piece of ceramic can tell the past.”

The Trust and the YMCA offer three different archaeology camps: an Experimental Archaeology Camp (June 15-19 and July 6-10), a Ceramics Camp (July 13-17), and People, Plants, and Pixels (Aug. 10-14).

A collaboration with KQED surrounding the new Ken Burns documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, People, Plants and Pixels is a reprisal of a 10-week after school program conducted this spring at Marina Middle School. Condensed into a one-week, summer camp format, the program offers sixth through eighth graders the chance to investigate the important role native plants played in the cultures of many Bay Area tribes. The culmination of the camp will be a camper-created Google map that guides future visitors on an ethno botanical exploration of the Presidio’s Ecology Trail.

The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to oversee the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1,500-acre site contains expansive open space and spectacular views, a 300-acre historic forest, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. It also comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to its status as a National Historic Landmark District.

Media Contacts

Lisa Petrie

Presidio Trust

(415) 264-7787