When I look back at my childhood, my best memories were created outdoors. At a young age, I remember biking around Mill Valley in search of adventure. From stick ball games at Boyle Park to exploring the creek with my friends, the environment in which I grew up provided me with endless access to the outdoors and adventure. I remember in middle school my friends and I spent our afternoons building mountain bike jumps down the road from my house, and in high school countless hours were dedicated to surfing at the breaks a short car ride from home. I’m lucky enough to share great memories in the outdoors with many of my close friends, and I’m not the only one. –many Tam students have been shaped and influenced by their upbringings in and around Marin. I interviewed four seniors—Jake Franco, Kate Peterson, and Ren Conger—about their experiences with the unparalleled opportunities Marin has to offer. Here’s what they had to say.
Jake Franco, Fisherman
Senior Jake Franco began fishing at age seven. By twelve he was fishing consistently at premier fishing spots around Marin and the Bay Area. “There are so many knowledgeable locals here who have played a huge role in helping me learn how to fish spots,” Franco said. “Here, older locals seem like they want to help future generations enjoy fishing as much as they do, for the most part, whereas in other areas they often won’t talk to you.” Franco’s solid foundation in fishing, fostered through growing up in Marin, has led to a number of successful catches, some of which include a ten-pound Striper he caught at Stinson, a twenty-five-pound Halibut be caught in the bay, and the 75+ trout he caught while backpacking in Yosemite. Jake attributes much of that success to the environment that Marin provided. “I think Marin definitely has an outdoorsy attitude because of all the possible activities here, and I would say growing up fishing…has been very helpful, based on the local knowledge as well as the almost endless possibilities.”
Kate Peterson Mountain Biker
Mountain Biking was founded on Mount Tam and Marin continues to be a mecca for the sport. Senior Kate Peterson has grown up mountain biking with her father on Mount Tamalpais. Peterson recalls the first time she rode the local trail, Railroad Grade, with her father. “I was so proud of myself for for getting up to the first gate. Now the first gate, while it has a pretty view, is merely the beginning to a longer, faster, and more incredible ride.” Over the years, growing up in such close proximity to Tam, Peterson and her father have adventured all over the mountain with their bikes. “Riding has become an incredible source of happiness for me,” Peterson said, “with a great portion of my positive experience being attributed to the awe-striking mount Tam and the incredible people that I go out and ride with.” Peterson is truly able to do something great by spending her time venturing on the mountain, and what better way to do it than do it locally.
Ren Conger Surfer/Surfboard Shaper
The surf breaks in Marin and San Francisco can produce, at times great waves, and year round surfing options. Senior Ren Conger began surfing when he was eight. Over the years Conger has embraced the waves in and around Marin. “In Marin there is a super positive surfing community. Proof Lab, the local surf shop, has been supportive towards all the groms [young surfers] through their frequent movies, barbeques, and other events.” With the area’s relatively constricting waves–elaborate on what constricting means here– traditional surfboard shapes work best. Because of this Conger most frequently finds himself riding traditional boards, even though he prefers to experiment with different shapes. At age 16 Conger shaped his first surfboard. “By some miracle the first surfboard I shaped came out pretty good, so I’m super happy about that.” In the future Conger wants to experiment with alternative shapes, in particular “a super crazy design called a displacement hull.” Throughout his life growing up in Mill Valley Conger has truly been able to enjoy the opportunities that the area offers. “My favorite memories definitely have been at the beach on super nice days and just hanging out and surfing all day.”
The San Francisco Bay can produce world class sailing conditions.Senior Makena Barkus has grown up in San Rafael and Sausalito and taken advantage of these conditions. From a young age Barkus began taking advantage of Marin’s proximity to the water. “From kayaking with my dad when I was young to learning how to sail, Marin has really encouraged me to be active and outdoors,” she says. Barkus has been able to develop her sailing skills in the bay and is now a competitive sailor on Tam’s Sailing Team. “There are so many opportunities for all ages and different types of boats. At sailing regattas we compete with schools from all over the Bay Area.” The sheer proximity of the bay allows Barkus to fine tune her skills on the water.“The accessibility of the Bay has allowed and encouraged me to further explore my passion for sailing.” On a given day Barkus embraces Marin for what it provides. “It encourages me to take advantage of the things we can so easily do like go to the beach or go on a hike. I feel really lucky to be able to go out on the water all the time.”