In 1981, longtime camper and former staff member Mike McEneany saw a headline in the San Francisco Chronicle describing a massive expansion of the Hetch Hetchy water and power system that would include a dam on the South Fork Tuolumne River at Hardin Flat. The ‘Ponderosa Project’, if completed, would have submerged Berkeley Tuolumne Camp under 200 feet of water.
Mike, Tim Hassler, Craig Fendel, and several other concerned campers formed FOBTC as a 501(c)3 non-profit to protect camp from this plan. They also helped form the Tuolumne River Preservation Trust, a coalition of campers, whitewater rafters, local residents, fishermen, environmentalists, and local businesses organizing against the dam project.
In 1984, the Tuolumne River Preservation Trust and Senator Richard Lehman introduced a bill to Congress that successfully protected 83 miles of the Tuolumne River as ‘Wild and Scenic’. While the 23-mile long South Fork Tuolumne was not included in the bill, this major conservation victory effectively ended the Ponderosa Project, and saved Camp from the dam at Hardin Flat.
Since successfully defending Camp from that threat, we have continued to preserve and enhance the Camp experience by supporting camp operations. Through successful fundraising at our annual Labor Day Weekend celebration and through annual membership fees, we have supported Camp by:
- Donating over $70,000 to rebuild the Stage
- With the help of the annual Ahwahnee donations, sending the staff to their annual appreciation dinner
- Initiating and funding many camp capital improvements like the Dining Hall fireplace, the Rec Hall porch and the planned new Nature Center
- Purchasing critical equipment for Camp
On August 25th, 2013, the massive Rim Fire ripped through the South Fork Tuolumne watershed and destroyed our beloved Berkeley Tuolumne Camp.
Just days after this devastating loss, FOBTC met to strategize the next phase of our work. Our group of ‘Friends’ immediately swelled to over 1000 strong, and we have been working closely with the devoted community of campers and staff alumni, the City of Berkeley, and other organizations to help with rebuilding efforts.
The FOBTC Board added new members and hired a part-time Executive Director, Scott Gelfand, who could keep the campers engaged with local events and involved in the rebuilding process. The new Board worked successfully with The US Forest Service to create a new narrative on the vital purpose of recreation campers in the Stanislaus National Forest, and together they crafted a new working partnership with the City of Berkeley. The US Forest Service gave the City 30 acres to work with to rebuild camp, up from 14.5 acres on the last special use permit. They also allowed us to leave the Dining Hall in its current footprint, so that the center of camp would have the same feel by the river.
On April 4, 2017, the new Mayor of Berkeley Jesse Arreguin, and his newly elected Council, voted on a measure to fund 3.3 million dollars from the City’s Catastrophic Fund to pay for the next two years of rebuilding expenses, effectively committing the City to rebuilding the camp. This was THEE yay or nay vote – we go forward or the project of rebuilding is stalled – and FOBTC visited every Council Member ahead of time and pledged $50,000 towards the rebuilding effort if the measure passed.
It passed unanimously on the consent calendar. The plans are being put forward and a design team, Siegel and Strain, was hired in the fall 2017. Cost of Basis Design and environmental reviews will happen over 2018 and 2019, and the timeline is to begin construction in 2020. The goal is to have Camp open in June 2022.
FOBTC continues to be the advocate for the Camper Community and the vehicle for supporting camp and staff with donations, with community partnerships that help camp, and with educating the public, staff and campers on important camp news.
Board of Directors
Steve Geahry (Current President) is a 3rd generation Tuolumne Camper. He worked on staff from 1994-97 and has written and directed the Tuolumne Camp Staff Show with Scott Gelfand since 1998. He has a perfect attendance record at Work Weekend (including through rain and snow!) since 1994.
Brenda Buxton has lived in Berkeley since 1994 and happily attended camp with her family from 2004 until the year of the fire. She has lovely memories of relaxing by the river, happy hour on the island, and dirty children running feral through camp. Professionally, Brenda has worked at the State Coastal Conservancy for over 30 years and is currently working on the Bay Trail, Ridge Trail, and South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Projects.
Rachel Coffin Amare was born and raised in Berkeley and first attended Camp in 1987. She served as a staff member from 1996-1999 in the Dining Hall and Recreation. She is dedicated to supporting all efforts to rebuild Camp as soon as possible, so that her children and many more generations of families can experience the joy, love and Camp Spirit that has been such an integral part of the fabric of her life. When not dreaming about Camp, Rachel works as an OB/GYN doctor for Kaiser Permanente.
Meka Tull was born and raised in the Bay Area. She never attended Camp as a camper, but served on staff in various roles from 1996-2000 in the Dining Hall, Kiddie Camp, and Recreation. Professionally, she has worked in the educational and mental health field for the last 15 years and now serves as Director of School Partnerships/School Psychologist intern supervisor at Seneca Family of Agencies. Meka is passionate about helping FOBTC rebuild Camp and brings a specific background in programming and leading diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
Janet Sowers served as the Nature Center director at BTC from 1987 to 2005 and has wonderful memories of leading nature hikes, teaching crafts, guiding the Tuolumne Rangers, and living in the incredible natural environment of camp. She is a professional geologist and discovered BTC when her husband, Jerry Horn, was hired as Camp Manager. They and their two daughters and granddaughter now live in Benicia.
Pearl Brown was born in San Francisco, CA and raised in Berkeley. She was introduced to camp by a high school vocational counselor who encouraged her to apply and share all of her enthusiasm and shining spirit at camp. She served as a staff member from 1988-1990 in the Dining Hall and The Camp Store (Pearls Happy Store). Camp holds a very special place in her heart and journey and she shares that love with her son who is now on Recreation staff for the past 2 years. She is passionate about rebuilding FOBTC and supporting the board’s initiatives and goals. Professionally she has worked in the Biotech field for over 20+years and now serves as an Associate Director in Clinical Quality. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with her family,cycling ,volunteer at local food drives , write science fiction short stories, travel, and explore museums locally and globally.
Lois Price was born in Los Angeles, ultimately choosing to live in Berkeley after college. She lived there for eighteen years. As a single-parent, she went to BTC for the first time with her two sons in 1994. Her sons both worked at camp, and one met his future wife at camp. Her favorite place in the world is Beaver Head Rock, which she started getting up onto when in her 50’s. In 2023, her family returned to camp with Lois teaching yoga as an Artist-In-Residence, and the next generation of Price Family campers – her two grandchildren, aged 3 and 10 months. Professionally, she worked in software engineering for over 40 years and is now retired.
Phil Klingelhofer was born in Berkeley and grew up in Oakland. He started his annual family camp adventure at BTC when his own children were 2 and 5. The older one, May, worked as staff in the newly rebuilt D-Hall last year and the younger one, Siri, took her second turn at CIT this year. His family enjoys helping out at Work Weekend and spending relaxing days next to the river during the summer at camp. Professionally, he’s worked as a software developer at Jupiter Systems for over 20 years.
Emeritus Members: Tim Hassler, Christine Chilcott, Craig Fendel, Dave Newell, Janine Newell, Christine Ahlstrand, Michael McEneany, Jennifer Booth Johnson, Richard Sheng, Barry Fike, Richard Thomason, Phillip Coffin and Janine Kraus.
Scott Gelfand (Executive Director) has been on staff and at camp since he was hired as the Recreation Director in 1986. He also worked as the Assistant Director in 1987. In 1987, Scott founded The Buddy Club, a successful Bay Area children’s entertainment company that entertains some 100,000 kids and families each year. He is also the Chief Operating Officer for The Bay Area Book Festival, the largest literary event in Northern California. Since 1986, Scott has written and directed every Staff Show along with Steve Geahry, and is committed to keeping everyone’s Camp Spirit alive!
Kara Perez (Development and Communications Coordinator) was hired in September 2020 to bring her expertise in fundraising to FOBTC. Professionally, she has had the privilege of working in the non-profit sector for over a decade within various fundraising roles at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, George Mason University and most recently, her alma mater, Young Harris College. A Georgia native, Kara enjoys living in the Appalachian mountains with her husband and three kids, Adrian, Ava Rose and Aaron. The entire Perez family looks forward to coming out to the west coast in honor of the grand reopening of BTC in the summer of 2022!
Our Annual Reports showcase our effort to rebuild camp by stewarding the generosity in a responsible and transparent manner. We are proud to be a key player in the rebuilding of camp and are eager to share our progress.