Giving Tuesday: How Your AutoCamp Stay Gives Back to the Environment
While the last slice of pie has disappeared, the spirit of generosity and giving lingers—especially once Giving Tuesday arrives on November 29th.
Each AutoCamp location is surrounded by pristine natural settings and thriving communities, which is why we’re deeply committed to supporting local partnerships that help protect and preserve the diverse landscapes and ecosystems in every community we’re located.
Did you know for every night you spend at AutoCamp, we donate $1 to a local non-profit partner? Learn more about each organizations’ individual missions—supported by you!—below.
AutoCamp Yosemite: NatureBridge
Founded by teacher Don Rees in the early seventies, after 51 years in operation NatureBridge now serves 35,000 students across 700 schools—for a running total of reaching over 1.6 million young people about conservation and the natural sciences.
As Director of Individual Giving Elise Roberts says, “Educators augment what they’re learning in the classroom, teaching science but to connect with nature, care about the environment and each other. For kids, it’s often their first entry into a national park to learn about national lands and our responsibility to care for these lands.”
Roberts also points out that NatureBridge’s immersive outdoor programs aren’t just beneficial for our lands. They can benefit youth mental health, giving students post-pandemic “the opportunity to spend 8 hours outside with no cell phones—connecting with peers, having fun, and being a kid.”
What’s the most impactful thing a visitor can do to contribute? Roberts suggests, “Leave it better than you found it, with a deep respect and acknowledgement that we are visitors on National Park Lands for indigenous or tribal members.”
Below are a few of the NatureBridge team’s favorite spots to visit inside the park to inspire your next trip:
- Wawona Area—Cultural site and hike
- John Muir Trail
- Top of Half Dome looking into the Valley
- Cathedral Lake and Peak
- Bridal Veil Falls
- Fun fact! NatureBridge is building a Platinum LEED-certified educational center—National Environment Science Center—in Yosemite National Park that will provide over 250 beds for student stays.
AutoCamp Russian River: Stewards of Coast and Redwoods
A community-based organization that works closely with the California States Parks system surrounding the Russian River Valley, Stewards grew out of a grassroots effort launched 40 years ago by local residents to protect the majestic redwoods. Overseeing thousands of acres in six designated wildlife areas and undertaking widespread restoration of local waterways, Stewards is heavily focused on inviting diverse groups of volunteers into the parks to create a lasting connection that benefits all involved.
Examples of their programs include guided ecology nature walks, a Mobile Marine Education Van that travels to schools and campuses around the area to educate about the local watersheds, a Junior Ranger program, and tidepool education programs.
Executive Director, Justin Lindenberg, points out that wildfire and climate change are the two key issues Stewards is currently focused on—in his words, “ Doing the work so the public can come back and enjoy the land safely, and offering a course on climate with UC California, educating around climate and fire zones.”
Lindenberg suggests the best thing visitors can do to give back is volunteer in one of their coastal or redwoods programs! He also suggests stopping by his Stewards spot: “Pond Farm Pottery in the Austin State Creek Recreation Area, near Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve,” originally built as an experimental art colony and now home to residencies and more.
AutoCamp Joshua Tree: Mojave Desert Land Trust
Working across 24.5 million acres of California Desert, the Mojave Desert Land Trust acquires land that’s home to important ecosystems and cultural sites, and protects them for future generations. Reaching from north of Death Valley to the southern tip of California, MDLT’s projects include Palisades Ranch, a key site of the Mojave River that’s been rescued from planned development, a seed bank dedicated to preserving the native plants of the Mojave, and the new Prairie Falcon Conservation Program to evaluate and eliminate threats to the iconic birds of prey.
Their programming also includes a Citizen Science initiative that encourages visitors to get involved in collecting data and sharing it with the Trust to study climate change and learn more about this diverse ecosystem. For students, after school learning labs known as Desert Discovery Field Studies offer real world content for learning about desert ecology, fostering a hands on interest in science, and finding ways to combine those experience with other areas of study like math and art.
AutoCamp Catskills: Woodstock Land Conservancy
Located in the heart of New York State and home to some of the most beautiful sites and trails on the East Coast, the Catskills are a key conservation site. As Executive Director Andy Mossey outlines, Woodstock Land Conservancy “focuses on conservation efforts through the protection of lands, and advocacy issues through regulations and law, particularly in areas with more climate resilience factors.”
In practice, that looks like preserving lands for both habitat and climate resiliency and offering people recreation opportunities and a connection to nature through access to the outdoors and identifying projects that help people get outside.
Make sure to stop by one of Mossey’s favorite sites while at AutoCamp. “One of the reserves, Israel Whitman, is really beautiful, and home to glacial erratics and loop trails.” Just be sure to follow his recommendations for responsibly visiting—practicing leave no trace, and if you have the opportunity, volunteering behind the scenes or at one of their seven conservation sites, which also include Sloan Gorge and the Ashokan Rail Trail.
Conservation and community support are always part of the conversation at AutoCamp, but consider booking in celebration of Giving Tuesday—and ask about ways to get involved the next time you join us for a stay!