Oct 2017: City of Berkeley hires Siegel & Strain Architects!

Great news everyone – we are moving forward!!!

On October 17, 2017, the Berkeley City Council approved a resolution on the consent calendar that marked a huge turning point in our rebuilding effort – the hiring of Siegel & Strain Architects to take us from today to the opening of camp.  This firm won the bid with experience and the City staff knowing they’d be the best firm to build our camp! FOBTC submitted a formal letter of support to the Mayor and Council, and have had past experience with this firm. FOBTC Board Member Ari Vared worked with them to rebuild Camp Newman, and couldn’t say enough great things about them.

Check out their work: http://www.siegelstrain.com/

Here’s the formal resolution:

Contract: Siegel & Strain Architects for Architectural and Engineering Services for the Berkeley Tuolumne Camp Design
From: City Manager
Recommendation: Adopt a Resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute a contract and any amendments with Siegel & Strain Architects in an amount not to exceed $4,300,000 to provide architectural and engineering services for the Berkeley Tuolumne Camp Design Project.
Financial Implications: Playground Camp Fund – $4,300,000
Contact: Scott Ferris, Parks, Recreation and Waterfront, 981-6700

The quick picture at this point looks like this:

1) Insurance money continues to roll in – and the City continues to negotiate with insurance and FEMA for all the remaining funds.

2) Siegel & Strain take the proposed zoning designs done by 2M Architects and begin a new design phase – what Camp might REALLY look like in reality. This phase will have a public informational process, likely at the 60 % design stage – in 5 – 6 months. The City will keep us updated and we’ll be sure to let everyone know. This phase will tell us what can be rebuilt, what insurance and FEMA will cover, etc.. and will also inform us as to what will NOT be covered. That gap is what FOBTC is looking to support so we can have the camp we all want.

3) The USFS NEPA (The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions) process is continuing, and City staff are confident they’ve addressed all the issues.

4) The timeline to opening day is 2021! We’ll keep pushing and supporting that timeline!

In May 2017, the City Manager briefed Council on the Berkeley Tuolumne Camp reconstruction, and in particular, the City’s ongoing negotiation with insurance and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the primary funders of the reconstruction of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp (BTC). In addition, this memo provides information about camp and recreation program scholarships and outreach efforts.

Click here to read through the City’s timeline for rebuilding, and the update:

2017-05-02 BTC Status Update 050217

FOBTC is actively engaged in every part of this effort to get camp rebuilt as soon as possible. Thank you for joining and supporting our efforts! Your contributions and support of this non-profit is helping us stay on top of this every day, and will also help close the gap of what we want to build at Camp that will not be funded by insurance, FEMA and the City.


2017 Gala: a sold-out memorable event!

For the first time in its history, FOBTC created “An Evening Under the Tuolumne Stars”, a Gala dinner and auction to celebrate the success of the past 4 years and the rebirthing of camp.

It was a magical evening, as the tickets all sold out, every auction item was bid on, campers were thrilled to come together, former staff were stoked to volunteer to serve dinner, and the Camp Spirit was strong and flowing, equally as much as the wine and house cocktail, ‘The Tuolumne Ranger’! California Rose Catering in Berkeley created an abundant feast, served family-style, and dinner began as always with the third bell and staff singing to “check the seating chart”!



Dinner and dessert (thanks to Lisa Kirkby (smore cupcakes!) and Jessica Ahlstrand (check out that camp cake!) were incredible.  We sang to the caterers and they came out of the kitchen to run around! It was awesome!

Then our gracious hosts were presented with our ‘2017 FOBTC Friend of the Year’ Award for going above and beyond as amazing volunteers to help the organization and the rebuilding of camp.

Bill and Christie Booth receiving applause and appreciation from all the campers.

We were treated with live music from the Tuolumne House Band – the Tamsen Donner Blues Band – who have hosted Tuolumne Blues weekend for decades at camp. Old friends and family members had a reunion, and celebrated the next phase of this journey we are all on, the rebirthing phase of rebuilding camp!


Former staff and families reunite

After a hilarious live auction featuring vacation homes and the comedy of Jim Whitty, we all gathered in the green chair circle and with an open fire, and under the starry night, sang the closing song..  a great night!

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

“A Night Under the Tuolumne Stars!” A Gala and Epic Night!

Sat Oct 7th 5pm – 9pm Tickets and Info

A special Gala in a private vineyard in Moraga
at the beautiful home of long time campers

An amazing elegant dinner by California Rose Catering of Berkeley,
served family style all by former staff,
with live music by Tamsen Donner Band, fine wine,
and the house cocktail (The Tuolumne Ranger!)

A celebration of the work we’ve accomplished
together and the rebirthing of Camp Tuolumne!

Night time at Camp – photo by Zac Rymland
This amazing photo will be available in the auction!

To give you just a taste:
Dinner includes appetizers like Sashima Ahi Tuna and Full Belly Farm Corncakes, dinner includes both Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs (Rib NIght!) and Pan Seared Wild Salmon with shitake mushrooms and green onion Miso marinade – along with Red Egyptian Quinos with toasted pumpkin seeds, a summer freshly picked salad and sauteed Brussel Sprouts and Wild Yellowfoot Mushrooms
in a lemon/shallot/olive oil/parsley sauce

An epic feast – FAMILY STYLE – along with all the fine wine you desire, and for dessert – 2 remarkable ‘donated by camper’ treats – professional cake maker Jessica Ahlstrand’s delicious cake and Lisa Kirkby’s homemade Smore’ Cupcakes!!!

Buy Your Tickets Here!

Get Rejuvenated with some Camp Spirit this Summer!

Camp Traditions Continue!

Join the Friends Weekend at beautiful
Echo Lake Camp!

Friday Sept 1st – 4th

Grab your book and have a seat in the Green Chairs Circle!

Extend your summertime with a fun-filled
weekend in the mountains!

Reservations are now available!

The activities schedule includes:

* Classics: Campfires  Bingo  Tournaments  Swimming   Boating   Archery
* Arts & Crafts – Lanyards, Friendship Bracelets, Nature Art
* Happy Hour Wine Tasting and Appetizers with a VIEW!
* Sat night special dinner!
* Desolation Wilderness Hiking
* Special Day hike for families to see the magnificent falls
* Echo Lake Boat Tour with the Chalet Staff

A 40 yr tradition brought back: A Saturday Night Happy Hour Silent Auction! Fine wine, vacation packages, get-a-ways, Tilden Park Golf, Great Books, Pet Services, Feng Shui Consultation, and more!

FOBTC donates $50,000 towards Rebuilding Camp!

The 4th annual Camp Tuolumne Night at the Freight & Salvage was a huge hit! Almost 200 people came to support camp, meet The Mayor of Berkeley Jesse Arreguin, hear about the plans for camp, and sing our songs and celebrate the rebirth of Camp!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Freight on Monday – it was awesome. The Camp Spirit was flowing and The Mayor of Berkeley was inspired by our stories, and thrilled for our contribution towards the rebuilding of camp. FOBTC donated $50,000 towards the rebuilding fund on the heels of the unanimous passing of the April 4th City Council vote.

Thank you all for your contributions towards our camp. For those who couldn’t make it on Monday, check out the video we made as we move from the grieving cycle to the next phase of this journey, dreaming of a rebuilt camp and returning. The rebirth of camp, and the hard work ahead, begins now.

Video: https://youtu.be/DE63D5MDftQ

City Council Votes YES for Rebuilding Camp Tuolumne!

Announcements, announcements, announcements!
“There’s No Place Like Camp Tuolumne”

Tonight, The Berkeley City Council voted to approve the funds needed from the city’s catastrophic fund to continue down the path to rebuild Camp Tuolumne!

Thank you to everyone who wrote letters, called their council person, and especially came out tonight! It made all the difference!

We’ll have a lot more information for you in a week or so from the City staff regarding the timeline and expectations.

In great appreciation for your camp spirit,
Scotty and the Board of FOBTC

Berkeley City Council – Critical Vote on April 4, 2017

Dearest Campers,
Since the Rim Fire in 2013, many campers and The Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp, along with City of Berkeley staff, have been working tirelessly to rebuild camp.

We are now at the crossroads of this effort!

We have just been informed that on Tues April 4th 5:30pm, at a special worksession on Camp Tuolumne, the City Council will be making a critical decision to set aside City funds in the FY 18-19 budget to help pay for the next phase – the design and reconstruction of camp.

A YES vote means we stay on track, with design and reviews in 2018, construction starting  in 2019 and finishing in 2020,  and Camp could be open as early as summer 2021.

A NO vote means the project gets delayed, the City prioritizes other needs and we come back to appeal for funds in a year and camp is further away from reality.

                                                                                 Big Picture:
The city is negotiating with insurers, FEMA and the state of California for funds that will pay over 90 percent of the estimated $60 million cost to rebuild camp. The federal government requires the city to pay a small share of the total cost; this share is estimated to be about $3 – $5 million.

To get the camp rebuilding process going in 2018 – 2019, the city needs to invest for design and some initial construction. If the city makes this investment, then we are well on our way to having camp reopen by 2021!

What You Can DO!
Here are the three CRITICAL things we need you to do in the next two weeks:

1. Activate All Campers! Ask all Campers you know to get on the FOBTC Distribution List. We need to gather as many campers in our database, so we can activate our community when needed.

2.  Write and/or Call Your Council Member: Find contact info for your council member HERE:  Tell them how much camp means to you and how important and imperative it is to you that camp be rebuilt ASAP. The more council members hear from their constituents, the more they’ll feel compelled to support camp! They MUST feel how much support there is for Camp. If you live outside Berkeley, please send an email to the entire City Council at council@cityofberkeley.info.

3.  April 4th 5:30pm  Attend the City Council Meeting!
We must show up at this meeting!  This is IT! The critical moment for camp. Please bring as many friends and family as you can to this event.  It is imperative that we pack the house, to demonstrate our passion and commitment to the new Council.

 This is our opportunity to stay on track and take one critical step closer to being back by the river…with a gorgeous new camp!

Please let them hear from you before April 4th
and we’ll see you at the City Council Meeting!

In Camp Spirit and Appreciation,
Scotty and the Board of FOBTC

Calling All Campers! Its a Friend-Raiser!

It’s a FRIEND-RAISER! We need your Help!


We are trying to connect with any and all campers to be able to update, activate and mobilize our community as the City of Berkeley will be voting in June on their next 2 years’ budget… which is crucial for camp’s rebuilding process. We know YOU are getting our messages, but we want to make sure EVERYONE who cares about camp is included. This is the time where campers can really help camp!

If you are not currently receiving emails from FOBTC, please go to https://www.fobtc.com/volunteer/

Thank you! We will be sending out an action plan shortly so you can plan on how to help! We need to make sure the new Mayor and new Council know how many people love Camp Tuolumne as they decide on their 2018-2019 budget.

FOBTC at The City of Berkeley Council Meeting

Hi Campers, Staff and Friends!  On Tues Nov 29th, 2016, the Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront division gave the City of Berkeley Council Members a full report on the progress and current status of their Camps division, as the City Council and Mayor get ready to make important decisions on the allocation of funds towards various needs and infrastructure projects.


The Council Chambers were completely filled with Camp families and staff, overwhelming the space with standing room only supporters stretching out into the hallways. The Council were visibly moved by the support, and the testimony on how important Camp Tuolumne, Echo Lake and Cazadero Camps are to the citizens of Berkeley. Two-thirds or more of the attendees were there for Camp Tuolumne.

Click here to watch the video of the event.

(The Camps presentation begins 20 minutes into the video)

The Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp were given a seat at the staff table and Richard Thomason, a Berkeley resident and FOBTC Board Member, spoke on behalf of the campers and our organization.

We promise to keep on fighting for the rebuilding of Camp as a high priority in the City of Berkeley as they near their budgetary decisions. The Mayor and Council were VERY supportive and said they will do everything they can to rebuild Camp as quickly as possible. We have planned meetings with every new council member, and the new Mayor, coming up.

Here is his testimony:

Testimony for FOBTC, City Council Worksession, November 29th, 2016

I’m Richard Thomason, a board member of Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp and a 23-year resident of District 5. For 12 years, our family attended Tuolumne Camp for a week every summer with our Berkeley friends. In 2013, we evacuated out of camp ahead of the Rim Fire as ashes were falling out of the sky.

Our whole family was devastated at the loss of camp. Every summer, we had a magical week where we could connect with nature, unplug from work, spend time with friends and family, and let our kids run around in the woods with little supervision. I can’t tell you how important it was to my girls that we could let them have the gift of unstructured time at camp. Our girls learned so much there about independence, self-reliance, and community.

The Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp (or FOBTC) was founded in 1984 to advocate on behalf of Tuolumne Camp. We were formed in response to plans to build a huge dam on the site of Camp, which would have flooded it under hundreds of feet of water. Working closely with hunters, environmentalists, the Tuolumne River Trust and other allies, we defeated plans for the dam and saved Tuolumne Camp.

We represent thousands of campers and staff, including hundreds of Berkeley households, spanning many generations of involvement over the 100-year history of camp. We are united in one goal – to help rebuild camp so that future generations of Berkeley kids can have the same formative experiences at camp that my children had.

Over the years, FOBTC has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to upgrade both Tuolumne Camp and Echo Lake Camp; has donated countless hours of volunteer labor to make improvements at camp; and has paid for the all-staff dinner at the end of the summer to promote staff morale.

We’ve also worked hard to keep the Tuolumne Camp traditions and community alive locally since the fire by hosting fundraisers, campfires, and meetings where Berkeley residents received updates on the rebuilding process from the Forest Service and the City.

We’ve worked closely with Parks and Recreation staff to participate in the planning process and bring the camper voice to the process. Going forward, we’re prepared to work with the City in a number of ways:

  • To support and lead a capital campaign to help raise money from the community for the rebuild effort.
  • To help the city plan for future use of Echo Lake and Tuolumne camps to best serve all the diverse residents of Berkeley.
  • And to continue to advocate for Tuolumne Camp to the US Forest Service and all the government agencies involved in the rebuilding process.

We want Tuolumne Camp to once again be that special place where Berkeley residents of all ages and all backgrounds can come together to create community in nature. We want camp again to be a place where Berkeley youth can have their first real jobs and learn valuable work and life skills. So FOBTC stands ready to partner with you and city staff to rebuild camp as soon as possible. To that end, we’d also be delighted to organize a tour of the camp site for councilmembers who haven’t seen it, including the new incoming members of the City Council. Thank you for your time.