Presidio Tunnel Tops facilities, features unveiled

This coyote was said to have been wandering around the Youth Center facilities when it was still alive and is now a top attraction for kids in the Field Staion.

By Jun Nucum
SAN FRANCISCO – The new youth facilities at the Presidio Tunnel Tops were given much importance during a “soft opening” to highlight the Presidio’s commitment of service to Bay Area youth!


Featured in the opening were youth programs at the Crissy Field Center that were explained by Youth Adventure Guides while they introduced the new drop-in Field Station, and let children play in the Outpost nature playground with kids from visiting community groups, and where interaction with the educators, program coordinators and community leaders who will serve approximately 60,000 youth per year, upon opening.


Located at a new building at the corner of Halleck and Mason, the opening event had for its host The Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, NPS and the Youth Adventure Guides) who welcomed youth groups from APA Chinatown Y and Edgewood Center for Children and Families who tested out the facilities as prelude to the public opening, July 17, 2022.


One of those in hand to greet and talk with the guests was Filipino Associate Director for Youth Leadership for the Golden Gate National Park Conservancy (GGNPC) Ernesto Pepito who grew up with Filipino relatives and friends who married Filipinas in the San Francisco Bay Area and has been exposed to Filipino culture.


“I think of family, of pride, of passion, the Filipino culture although I haven’t been raised in a Filipino family but it is still something feel connected to,” Pepito said. “That is important to me especially having your identity as a Filipino. As you grow up, your surrounding whether at work, school, the community. That is something with the young people. We want them to embrace who they are and they don’t have to change because they are coming from different neighborhood because they have a job.


Pepito said that they at the GGNPC want to see young people balancing but still see who they are and love their family, their culture, and bring them to the park and the place where they work.


Ask on representation, Pepito replied that representation is really really important as  lot of times the outdoor field conservation, the national parks have been shaped by one American culture.


“But America itself has more than one culture where a beautiful blend of histories, of talent, of skills, and perspectives. And so here in this park we welcome those different perspectives to help shape the program,” Pepito said. “So when you think of protecting the land you also are protecting the past, I think we put it in another way. We invite people to shape the future.”


Pepito said the Presidio Tunnel Tops has programs and staff that can hopefully represent what they believe in, their family and their culture to the program.

He said they really aim to lure and attract the youth to the Presidio especially since the pandemic has restricted the movement of people.


“I read that young people has challenges socializing especially being practically locked up during the peak of the pandemic even at the school where they are supposed to be welcome and do not feel as much so,” Pepito said. “Children are a top priority in the national park. You can tell by these youth camps. A huge investment has been made to make sure that young people can have memorable transformative experience here whether it is the public side of the new Outpost in the Field Station unlike the playground that they have been to before. And when they participate in our programs they have opportunities to think about leadership in the community. It is important that we invest in those kinds of programs.”


Pepito invited Filipinos, the Filipino community and families to see that Presidio as their national park too as they are part of this country’s history and they are going to be a huge part of shaping the future.


“So we hope that the Presidio Tunnel Tops becomes a part of their community. Come celebrate. Come bring the celebrations here with us,” Pepito said.

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The new and rehabilitated facilities for youth at the Presidio Tunnel Tops that will serve 60,000 youth per year will be laying the groundwork for extraordinary park experiences and evoking a unique spirit of adventure and connection to our shared heritage of national parks.


The facilities include:


1. The Outpost which is a 2-acre choose-your-adventure outdoor destination full of fun physical challenges and creative play with features that evoke the natural and cultural history of the Presidio (such as a hydro-tunnel, bluff slide, fallen tree and oversized bird’s nest). Set in a natural landscape of native wildflowers, trees, logs, boulders and water features, the Outpost connects visitors to the natural world in a unique national park setting. It’s free and open seven days a week. 9:30am-6pm daily;


2. The Field Station, a new indoor park facility filled with an abundance of real objects, field specimens, tools and reading resources that connect visitors with the park’s natural and cultural history. It is sensory-based activities with seasonally changing content encourage curious exploration, discovery, and investigation of the real Presidio. It’s free and open to the public six days a week. Wed-Fri 11am-4pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm (Closed Mon & Tues); and


3. The Crissy Field Center that for twenty years has offered park programs that support academic achievement, environmental literacy, and leadership and career development for young people across the region.


The Crissy Field Center’s programming will reside in two buildings (one renovated and one brand new) with two new labs, a spacious outdoor courtyard, and classrooms that will be fully accessible and updated to increase program capacity. A dynamic hub for the Presidio and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Center is a model program of the National Park Service, the Presidio Trust, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.