The Recap of Camp Tuolumne Night at The Freight!



Hi Campers and Friends… last Monday night we hosted our 3rd annual Camp Update Night at The Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley, and we are so grateful to the Freight for hosting us!

Our efforts, as always, are to continue to bring the Camp Community as much up to date information, involvement and participation as possible.

We were honored to present the latest on The Rim Fire Recovery efforts and the Reforestation Plan, as well as the latest from The Tuolumne River Trust and the City of Berkeley. It was a fun and spirited group that came – almost 150 people – who all brought great Camp Spirit with them and reunited with other campers and staff!

Here’s a summary of what was said for those who missed it:

Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp Executive Director, Scott Gelfand, and President of the Board, Steve Geahry, welcomed the crowd and introduced the US Forest Service officials.


United States Forest Service

Dusty Rhodes – Recreation Specialist Groveland Ranger District

Maria Benech – Reforestation EIS Team Lead – Replanting The Rim Fire Area!

Clare Long – USFS Partnerships and Volunteer Coordinator

Q&A with Scott Tangenberg – Deputy Forest Supervisor

The team opened the presentation with an overview of the 2013 Rim Fire and the hard work that the Stanislaus National Forest (SNF) staff are doing to recover timber, remove fuels, restore trails and recreation access areas, and replant the forest. The heart of the presentation involved the new Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that the Forest Service has worked hard to produce and present to the public for comments. Maria gave very detailed and thorough explanations and diagrams of the various replanting schemes, with the emphasis being on creating a forest landscape that is more open, has a greater diversity of trees, and will be more resilient to future fires.

Scott Tangenberg followed with a sobering account of the damage inflicted by this historic drought and the subsequent infestation of bark beetles. With rather shocking images of brown and dying ponderosa pine trees across the Central Sierra Nevada, Scott showed that just as the Stanislaus National Forest is recovering from the massive ecological disaster of the 2013 Rim Fire, it is now under a fresh assault from drought conditions, and bark beetles killing millions of pines.

As pines (particularly the Ponderosas) are stressed and dehydrated due to the last 4 years of severe drought, they have less sap and natural defenses against the beetles. The beetles are able to bore through the bark and eat the living tissue of the trees. The pines’ ability to photosynthesize and and get nutrients down to their root systems; while the roots are unable to get water up to the crowns, and the pines gradually dry up and die. Many areas of the forest are now brown from the dying trees. This is both an ecological disaster, as well as a public safety concern, as falling limbs and trees present a big danger to residents and visitors. The cost of removing the dead trees is massive, and Governor Jerry Brown has declared a State of Emergency, to provide emergency funding to the counties affected.

Dusty gave a more hopeful presentation, outlining the many innovative ways that he and his USFS colleagues are educating and engaging the public in the Rim Fire area. He showed his Rim Fire Audio Tour, and played a stirring clip from one of the audio tour stops: BTC. It was very moving to hear an audio clip from the US Forest Service staff, including Groveland District Ranger, Jim Junette, describe how historic and treasured our camp was. Couple with before + after images of 31585 Hardin Flat Road, there were many teary eyes in the room at that point.

Dusty also showed off a very cool 360 degree virtual video tour of BTC, with images taken from Cabin 44.
Claire then gave an upbeat and funny presentation about the community driven tree planting that is now happening every winter and spring in the Stanislaus National Forest. She showed many fun images of school kids, families, and community volunteers replanting thousands of trees, and she urged the audience to get involved next February, when the narrow window for planting is again open.
For more information about the Rim Fire recovery and reforestation plans, please visit:

TRT logo

The Tuolumne River Trust (TRT), led by Seth Connoly, Restoration and Volunteer Coordinator, and Rebecca Stievater, Grants and Events Manager, gave upbeat presentations about the work that they are doing to fundraise, recruit volunteers, lead tree planting days, and offer an exciting line-up of educational and recreational events for the year.

Seth gave a presentation on the work TRT, with support from several young AmeriCorps volunteers, is doing to coordinate tree planting trips.

Rebecca outlined the many cool events and outings that TRT is offering, which include canoeing trips near La Grange, backpacking trips in Yosemite, concerts at Mountain Sage Nursery in Groveland, film festivals here in the Bay Area, and much more.

For more information about the Tuolumne River Trust, and to get involved in replanting our Stanislaus National Forest, please visit:


The City of Berkeley
Denise Brown, Recreation Services Manager, and our favorite Camp Manager, Craig Veramay, then presented the late updates about the rebuilding efforts at 31585 Hardin Flat Road.

Denise gave an overview of the complex and exhaustive work the City of Berkeley is doing to a) develop the Master Plan for the site, b) secure a new Special Use Permit from the Forest Service, c) recover insurance settlements and FEMA funds, and d) develop preliminary designs for the new site.
Craig gave more detailed slides and descriptions of the many steps in the rebuilding process. His timeline of benchmarks showed the complexity of rebuilding, and the priorities for the City.

Craig gave a tentative projection for the reopening of Camp: summer 2020.
He showed slides of the early camp designs, describing where certain buildings, facilities and trails will be. Most importantly, the D-Hall will remain in place, overlooking the River, while the Rec Hall (called the River Hall) will be closer to where Boys Camp once was. Camp Staff will now be housed on the other side of the road, opposite Sun City. Sun City itself will be allowed to return to a natural state, to protect the Miwok cultural resources there.

Craig closed with a very special presentation of a couple of priceless camp treasures- a photo of the damaged Kitchen Bell, and the recovery of the Activity Bell, which is now safe and sound and rings like it always did!

Our very own Executive Director, Scott Gelfand, then drew the raffle tickets for a free stay at our Labor Day Weekend event in Echo Lake Camp. The winner of the raffle was Matt Fitzgerald – who worked on staff in the 90s!

As usual- we closed arm in arm with our favorite song, “There’s No Place Like Camp Tuolumne” and a short musical video by a camper, Noel Morrison, of camp in 2011.. just so we remember what to look forward to! Awesome job Noel!

May 13th: The Future of Camp Tuolumne at the Berkeley Rep!

“The Future of Camp Tuolumne”

Monday, May 13, 2019 – 7 – 8:30 pm

Berkeley Repertory Theater

Click Here for Tickets!

The night we’ve all been waiting for since 2013!

What will camp look like when we return? When will we return? How will it be different, and what will feel the same? How can we help bring back the Camp we love?? Will there be any trees, what about the stone showers, has the river changed at all, what will the tents look like, etc..

Tonight, we will get to answer all those questions and more.

Hosted by The Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp, along with the City Staff and the design team of Siegel and Strain, we will present the final drawings and plans for the new Camp Tuolumne for the very first time!

This will be an evening dedicated to getting the latest information regarding the rebuilding of Camp. You will receive the current timeline for the next few years and have the chance to ask questions directly to the rebuilding Project Manager, design team, as well as the City Staff.

FOBTC will be kicking off our Capital CAMPaign to support what insurance will not cover, and we are excited to share with you the opportunities for how you can get involved!

Together, we can rebuild the Camp we love!

Get your tickets before they sell out!

Please pass this on to fellow campers and encourage them to attend!

3rd Annual Camp Update! Mon April 25th Freight and Salvage!

Hi campers and staff! For the 3rd year in a row, we’re proud to organize an amazing night for everyone who wants to know what is happening with your beloved Camp!

We need everyone interested in camp to join us on Mon April 25th at The Freight!
Reserve Your Tickets Here

Monday April 25th Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse Berkeley
6:30pm Doors Open / 7pm – 8:30pm Presentations and Q&A
Camp Trivia Contest and prizes will be given out!

There are lots of questions and we want to pack the house so the officials know we care about Camp being rebuilt! Please reserve your tickets!

* What’s the plan for planting trees in the area?
* What will Camp look like when it is rebuilt?
* What is the projected timeline?
* How was the Tuolumne River affected by this drought and the Rim Fire?
– whatever you want to ask those who make decisions on that area.

PLEASE join us for a GREAT night of camp spirit.

Campers and Staff Plant Trees!

Hi campers, staff and friends!

We thought you’d like to know that there were 2 weekends of tree planting in February and March with former staff and campers going up with friends and having a blast!

Helen with Tree

The Tuolumne River Trust and the USFS coordinated the tools, trees, and volunteers. They have planted over 35,000 trees already in 2 months in the Rim Fire area.. amazing job by all!

A Great Big Thank You to the hard-core campers and staff who journeyed up there early morning and planted some trees we all will get to enjoy!



U.S. Forest Service enlists help of public – planting 90K trees

Announcements, announcements…..

Campers – do you want to help plant trees in the Rim Fire area??

Here are the first meetings about helping the Forest Service to replant the area.


Sonora, Calif., (Dec. 31, 2015)…The U.S. Forest Service is enlisting the help of all available stakeholders, members of the public to help plant 90K trees this spring in the Rim Fire burn area.

In partnership with Tuolumne River Trust, the Stanislaus National Forest is hosting public meetings in January to inform and recruit volunteers for tree planting days scheduled to take place seven days per week throughout the spring.

Meeting dates and locations are as follows:
Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 19777 Greenley Road, Sonora, CA:
·         January 14, 6pm in the Stanislaus Room;
·         January 16, 3pm in the Stanislaus Room; and
·         January 23, 3pm in the Stanislaus Room

Groveland Community Hall, 1918 Main Street, Groveland, CA:
·         January 21, 7pm in the main hall (after the GAP meeting).

The Rim Fire of 2013 burned over 257,000 acres on the Stanislaus National Forest. Forest scientists/specialists estimate that without reforestation it is highly unlikely the forest, as we know it, would grow back in our lifetimes.

Anyone interested in helping to reforest the area is invited – Individuals, groups, families – all are welcome.

For more information, please call: the Stanislaus National Forest at 209-532-3671 or the Tuolumne River Trust at 949-533-2346.

Nov Update: The Rim Fire DEIS is now available!



Hi Campers! Happy Thanksgiving and we hope this finds you well!

The Rim Fire Reforestation Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is now available. The DEIS describes a proposal for about 48,000 acres of treatments on National Forest System lands within the 2013 Rim Fire including:  deer habitat enhancement; natural regeneration; noxious weed eradication; reforestation; and, thin existing plantations. The DEIS discloses the direct, indirect and cumulative effects that would result from the proposed action, a no action alternative and three additional action alternatives. The Responsible Official has not identified a preferred alternative at this stage.

The DEIS, maps and other information are available online at

Also, a limited number of the printed DEIS and map packages are available by request at this office. The Forest will host an open house with Interdisciplinary Team members available at the Forest Headquarters in Sonora, California from 3:00pm to 6:00pm on Thursday December 3, 2015. The DEIS, maps and other project information will be available at that open house.

This project is subject to the comment process pursuant to 36 CFR 218, Subparts A and B (rule). The Responsible Official is requesting specific written comments during the 45-day designated comment period beginning with publication of the Notice of Availability (NOA) of the DEIS in the Federal Register (expected on November 27, 2015); the Forest will post the actual NOA on the project website address noted above as soon as it is available.

The USFS releases their Scoping Package for Camp Tuolumne!

Hi dear Campers, Staff and Friends!

Once again we are able to write you with GREAT news and an update as we continue to work towards the rebuilding of Camp at Harden Flat Road!

As you may know by now, The Berkeley City Council voted to support the Special Use Lease Permit, along with allocating money for the environmental review process to begin. The City staff should be commended for doing an amazing job navigating this very detailed process, and the Council deserves all of our support for being behind it.


Now the USFS has written the next steps – The Scoping Package, the general scope of the project. We get to review that and comment on it within a 30 day window.

The Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor is requesting specific written comments on the City of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp (BTC) Permit during an initial 30-day designated opportunity for public participation from October 28, 2015 through November 27, 2015.  The cover letter, scoping package, maps and other project information are available at the City Camps office or online at:

The Board of FOBTC has reviewed this in detail and has written its comments of complete support for the package. We are thrilled at what the package represents for camp. We encourage you to review it and write your own comments to the Forest Service. 

You can read our letter here:

27 October 2015
Stanislaus National Forest Attn: BTC;
19777 Greenley Road
Sonora, CA 95370

Dear Supervisor Higgins,

The Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp fully supports the proposed scoping package for the City of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp Permit (BTC) project to issue a 30-year permit to the City of Berkeley for 45 acres, and move forward with the rebuilding of our historical home.

We are very grateful for the thoughtful and careful outreach, collaboration, and planning that the USFS staff has invested in this important project.

The Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp is a 501 c(3) non-profit organization founded in 1984 that represents thousands of campers and staff spanning many generations who are mourning the loss of their summer camp. We are excited to be working alongside the City of Berkeley and the US Forest Service to help in the efforts to rebuild this special place.

We note, support and especially appreciate these important elements of the scoping package:
1) Expanding the overall footprint of camp to help move structures away  from the riparian corridor;
2) Keeping camp at the same capacity size as before so that it can continue to serve diverse communities of campers from Berkeley and beyond;
3) Increasing the capacity of parking lots to relocate parking off of Hardin Flat Road;
4) Replanting and revegetating the area within camp.

The value of BTC to the USFS is consistent with the 2010 Stanislaus National Forest Plan:
“Provide a wide range of recreation opportunities directed at various experience levels to meet current and projected demand, including campgrounds, hiking trails, picnic areas, OHV trails, etc.”

In closing, we give our complete support to this plan. Thank you for your hard work and we look forward to the next stages of the rebuilding of Berkeley’s Tuolumne Camp.


Steve Geahry
President – The Board of Directors

Moving Forward on Special Use Permit and Environmental Reviews


Update from The City of Berkeley Council Meeting last Tuesday night!

Tuesday night was an important night at the City’s Council Meeting. On the Consent Calendar was the Park and Recreation’s staff request for Approval by the Council for the next steps in the rebuilding process for Camp – the ability to apply for the Special Use Permit with the National Forest Service, and expenditure of money for the state and federal required environmental review process which follows.

FOBTC sent a formal letter ahead of time to every Council Member supporting this, and we attended the meeting. Board Member Richard Thomason, a 22 year Berkeley resident, spoke in person reiterating our appreciation of the City and Council’s efforts to rebuild camp at Harden Flat, and of FOBTC’s continued supportive role in this process.

The action was approved with no dissent or discussion. 🙂

GREAT news. Next week the City staff meet with the Supervisor of the Stanislaus National Forest to move the process forward.

We will continue to monitor and update campers and staff as to the progress of the rebuilding. We will hold more meetings and information nights when needed.

Until then  – we celebrate that things are on track, and lets roast some marshmallows this Sunday!


Great End-of-Summer Fun at Friends Weekend and Tee off for Tuolumne!

The summer of 2015 ended with back to back weekends of campers coming to celebrate what we have, and how we’re going to go forward together! Both events reminded everyone of the amazing Tuolumne Spirit and connection we share, and that our community is as strong as ever.


Labor Day Weekend at Echo Lake:

A Sold-Out Echo Lake Camp was a buzz all weekend with end of summer fun! Warm days and star-filled evenings was ordered up, and we had social hour on the observation deck and a campfire every night. We played BINGO with amazing prizes, including t-shirts, hats, and a Magnum of expensive wine to the adult winner! Archery, swimming, arts and crafts, volleyball. yoga, ping pong, and great hikes were among the activities during the day, highlighted with a very special 50 person Boat Tour of Echo Lake by the owners of the Echo Lake Chalet!

Sunday night we told our camp stories and memories about Tuolumne around the campfire, and sang our camp songs. The smells of marshmellows and smores filled the air. It was magical and sweet to hear everyone’s camp experiences.

We presented our very first “Friend of the Year” award to honor the volunteer efforts of campers who are committed to the long term success of Camp Tuolumne. The 2015 recipients of the “Friend of the Year” went to Jim and Katie Whitty, who have been tirelessly and joyously volunteering for many years for FOBTC. These two truly exhibit the “Tuolumne Spirit” and we are so appreciative of their work and efforts!

Thanks to everyone who joined us, and we hope next summer those who got turned away because it was already sold out will have a chance to be there as well! A long standing tradition at Tuolumne was brought to Echo Lake, and it was fantastic to be together.

“Tee off for Tuolumne”:

Last Saturday we had about 75 golfers and over 200 for dinner at Tilden Park, and this once a year fundraiser put on by campers Jim and Katie Whitty was once again a fantastic success! We had City of Berkeley staff, Councilman Laurie Capitelli, Camp Manager Craig Veramey, and hundreds of dedicated campers young and old dining together and enjoying the beautiful evening at Tilden Park.

Bruceputting contest winner Bruce Lengacher wins $300!

The day was filled with light hearted golf and staff running around Tilden Park having a blast! “Tuolumne Tim”  – the Yeti of Camp, was seen driving around and taking photos with golfers (the other golfers had no idea what to make of him)

golf cart yeti

The “Hot Mamas” of Tuolumne hosted tee#10 with special cocktails, “whisper announcing and golf clapping”, and unbridled enthusiasm, as well as lots of fur! (again, the other golfers not connected to camp had no idea what to make of them!) Their Camp Spirit is off the hook!

hot mamas

A hole in one on the 180 yard Hole #4 was the most exciting possibility of the day! There was one golfer, Matt Johnston, an ex-professional golfer, who came pretty close!


If he had gotten that shot another 2 feet into the hole, he would have won this!

staff at car 2015

(staff not included in the winning! Just the classic Mercedes Convertible!)

At night we had a great Taco dinner for over 200, with a great live auction and over 30 raffle prizes! Vacation get-a-ways, hotel stays, GoPro Camera’s, Art, Wine, Green Camp Chairs…  great donations for a great cause. Everyone contributed and enjoyed their camp community, and we were able to raise some funds for the year long work of FOBTC and the rebuild Camp Tuolumne efforts.

Thank you so much to everyone who came out to play, to dine, to wine, and to bid. Singing the Camp Song arm-in-arm brought lots of smiles and tears to our eyes.

So as we say goodbye to another summer, we are deeply grateful for the memories we made at Camp this summer, and the knowledge that together, a United Camp Community, we have many more years ahead of us of great summer memories.

You dream of me…. and I’ll dream of you.

Scott Gelfand

Executive Director

Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp

Staff Appreciation!

Being on a staff at a summer camp is a rite of passage for millions of young Americans. It often brings a freedom and independence from their family that they have not known before, and a chance to be a responsible working adult for the first time. It is a glorious time of learning many new skills – how to find friends, how to be a competent worker, how to deal with the public, how to sign IRS forms and the joy of receiving a paycheck for hard work. Being at a summer camp far away in the mountains, it is a time for personal growth and connection with nature. It usually hard to work for too many years, as other jobs and growing responsibilities challenges the chance to be on staff again, but they remember those special summers the rest of their lives.

Staff consistency and retention is at the heartbeat of the business and spirit of Camp. At other family camps I have visited, the staff are not always the center of attention or at the core of the experience. Our staff has always been in the front – singing the songs, playing every game, becoming Superheroes every Saturday night in the staff show, cooking special dishes for special diets, serving every table with enthusiasm, and attending to any needs a camper has – whether the staff are off duty or in the department doesn’t matter. Seeing staff return to camp, and happy, keeps everyone feeling like nothing at camp has changed, and makes the administration and running of camp smooth and seamless.

For the past 2 summers, Tuolumne Staff and Echo Lake staff have merged – and have worked through so many changes and physical differences to keep Camp similar for campers. It is a different camp at Echo Lake for sure. But the staff embraced the changes and continued the same joy we are so accustomed to, and this past summer was remarkable after just one year of working out the kinks.

These are mostly the same staff that fled in the fire, lost their belongings, were emotionally scarred, and for them, a part of their youth burned in that fire. We joked in the first week at Echo Lake last year that they are all pioneers at this new camp… figuring it out as they go along. A big thanks and kudos to the City staff (Scott, Denise and Craig) for putting the resources needed to basically sell out the summer of family camp, and also youth camp – and give staff the tools they needed to be successful! FOBTC also contributed resources and support to enhance the camper and staff experience for the past 2 summers, with the goal of sustaining a thriving camp business..

For decades and decades, a great summer traditionally ended in a great thank you dinner for the entire staff, sponsored and paid for by campers and The Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp.

This year and last year were no different.

We now have a welcome packet, with envelopes and a safe to collect any donations at the camp office. This year we offered free “Rebuild Camp” t-shirts to anyone who gave a contribution towards this dinner.

west shore dinner 2015

Instead of The Ahwahnee in Yosemite, they chose The West Shore Cafe in Lake Tahoe. A beautiful restaurant. They dress up in the finest for the only time of the summer. They go from sleeping on cots and the dirt all summer, from back packing and pitching tents on their days off, to elegance and upscale! And they always say it was the best evening of the summer!

thank you card fobtc

So THANKS to everyone who contributed to this special dinner, and appreciation! Well done! Your donations and contributions mean a lot to the staff, and to the business of camp.

Thank you,


Executive Director

Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp