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Interview: Miguel Gutierrez, Program Manager of the Camping at the Presidio Program

What's your average day look like?
As Program Manager of the Camping at the Presidio (CAP) Program, I spend a lot of time at the Rob Hill Campground on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Central Magazine Road. Usually in the mornings I do a quick campground sweep to check if the facilities are well maintained and the campers did a good job of leaving no trace, and that everything else is in order. I also serve as an unofficial campground host to hikers, bikers and tourists who have questions about the campgrounds. In the afternoons I coordinate reservations with groups and then I explain the rules and do a big welcome activity. Then I head down to the new (temporary, but super ECO friendly) Crissy Fields Center building on East Beach. I help out with the logistics and administration of the school teachers filling out district field trip forms and community coordinators needing some sort of documentation to get their camping trips approved. I can also arrange for low cost subsidized shuttles for groups that meet our eligibility criteria. These groups also get use of the camping equipment like tents, sleeping bags, and camp stoves through our program partner, Bay Area Wilderness Training.

Tell us your secrets: what awesome programs are folks missing out on?

The Crissy Field Center does so much! There is a kick-ass summer camp with environmental themes. If I had kids, I’d totally send them to the camp. If I were a teacher, I’d totally go through the training to take my students camping. They learn so much and get a broader perspective on the world. They get to be outdoors and what I like to say, they get to be SENSATIONAL. Use all their senses. There’s so much to see, hear, touch, feel, and taste here in the Presidio! We also sponsor a lot of community events like community campfires and Earth Day celebrations.

What's the coolest part of your job?
Honestly, it’s meeting all the socially conscious and caring teachers, educators, and community leaders who care so much about providing an experiential learning opportunity. It makes me feel like there is a community of people who “get it.” Maybe in this world there are more lovers than haters.

What kind of clientele do you typically deal with? Tourists? Locals? Parents?
All of the above! I interact with tourists at the campsite with questions about camping. Since I have a nametag on and sometimes an official looking uniform or t-shirt that says “staff,” people ask a lot about bus lines, nearest bathrooms, and directions. Locals and regulars usually catch me on their hike or jog with many of the same questions. Dog walkers with a pack of dogs usually say hello but they keep walking and usually know where they are going.

The main part of my job is to outreach to local teachers and community coordinators to explain what an outstanding campsite Rob Hill is and it’s location in the city and what they can do to access our program perks and how to come camping with their youth.

Perks of the job?
I get to go camping for a living! How’s that for a perk? I lead five overnight camping trainings for eligible school teachers and community leaders called the Camping at the Presidio Leadership Training. We introduce teachers and community leaders to the campground, the Presidio, and all the cool things we provide. We simulate a one night overnight camping experience and train with an emphasis on “Leave No Trace” and being a caretaker of the land as opposed to just pulling up and tailgating and being a “consumer.” We hope that message is taken back to the school youth and community youth when they come back camping and they take ownership of being a National Park caretaker.

I get a 10% discount at the Sports Basement and 20% for camping gear for our camping program. They’ve been a really good supporter of our camping program.

Also, as a full-time employee of the Conservancy we have good benefits. Health Care, Dental, Vision, Flexible Spending Account, Commuter check access, 403(b) savings/retirement plan?it’s a great place to work!

Thanks so much for your answers. Any last words?
I hope that when friends and relatives want to visit from out of town that they would prefer to take a nice hike in the Presidio along the Crissy Field Marsh or around the park instead of wanting to do such touristy things like Fisherman’s Wharf or Pier 39. Also, I’m excited about the Crissy Field Center generating its own power through solar panels and out of the ordinary (extraordinary?) wind turbines. The solar panels are already installed and the wind turbines are coming soon!

A big thanks to Miguel for taking time out of his busy day to answer our questions. Got your own question for him? You can email him here.

Crissy Field Center

603 Old Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94129 Visit Website

The Presidio Trust

34 Graham Street, San Francisco, CA 94129