A CurbedSF story stopped me in my tracks last week. They posted about a SF Examiner article detailing the Park & Rec Department’s plans to look into allowing campouts in Golden Gate Park for kids.
“It’d be kind of like a summer camp,” Rec and Park Project Manager Lev Kushner said. “It’s an idea I stole from New York. They have a camp-out with parents and children, and then maybe a bonfire, a constellation identification walk or a campfire cookout.”
There’s already plenty of illegal camping happening in Golden Gate Park, so why is the Rec & Park Dept. now interested in the concept? Money, of course. With $9 million in cuts to their budget, the department is looking for new ideas to generate revenue.
The article says that Park & Rec Chief Phi Ginsburg “has created a three-person moneymaking team to flush out the ideas and other possibilities, such as corporate sponsorships, holding flea markets and flipping more events like the “Peter Pan” show, which is netting the department $315,000 in permits alone.”
In typical Examiner fashion, they don’t actually explain what the Peter Pan show is so I’m not sure. Anyone know? I imagine people flying around on cables in wooded areas of the park in green tights, but who knows. Must be something interesting if it’s generating that much in permit fees. [Thanks to reader Bob who sent in a link explaining the Peter Pan show]
Back to the camping idea… My initial reaction to this was negative. I guess I am jaded by all the issues in Golden Gate Park like homeless camping, trash, crime and the annual dead body that some poor visitor inevitably comes across. The idea of having kids sleeping overnight in the park strikes me as a bad idea. I think the Presidio would be a more appropriate place for this. It just feels a lot less urban.
There is also the issue of staffing and managing a program like this. Wouldn’t you need a 24 hour security service to watch over the area where the little tykes and their chaperones are snoozing? In the Examiner article, Ginsburg says that a similar program in New York city requires “about 70 people”. With a budget crisis already looming, hiring a large team to manage a new program like this doesn’t seem like good spending.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some lovely places in GGP where people could have a great camping experiencing. The AIDS Memorial Grove is one that springs to mind, as well as the top of Strawberry Hill at Stow Lake (great sunrises from there).
I also question how much money this would really bring in. What would a group pay for the privilege of bunking in the park? If they only ran a program like this in the summer, the possibilities for a lot of revenue seem limited.
As a kid, I spent a night on Alcatraz. I tagged along on a girl scout outing and we all had to clear the helicopter pad of weeds in exchange for the sleepover. I was exhausted by the time we crawled into our cells and sleeping bags. They didn’t close the cell doors, but it was one of the best night sleeps I ever had. And I’ve never forgotten the experience of being on the island at night, hearing the sounds of Ghirardelli Square trickle across the Bay to us as we sat around the campfire.
So I think there are urban spots where this camping idea has some merit, but I’m not so sure about Golden Gate Park.
What do you think of the idea of camping in GGP? Are you getting your camping gear ready in anticipation?
12:21 pm | Posted under Golden Gate Park
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