Want to Learn more about the reforestation of the Stanislaus Forest?

The Stanislaus National Forest is having an open house for the public to ask questions and get more informed regarding the reforestation process following the Rim Fire. All are welcome!

Open House Flyer for Dec. 16

This is next Tuesday in Sonora. I will be there representing FOBTC.

We are working on bringing the Forest Service staff to Berkeley in the Spring to do an update here so that our local campers who really want to be better educated and more involved in the process will have a chance to do that! But if you want information sooner, come to Sonora next Tuesday!!

In the Spirit of Thanks-Giving… an amazing letter about what “Camp” means!

“…when a Summer Camp Bums Down”

By Stephen Fay

(Photos by Tim Messick  – http://www.timmessick.com/store-btc)

Somebody’s going to say that the destruction, by fire, of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp out near Yosemite is an indescribable loss. It isn’t. It’s very describable: infinitely. Everyone who ever went there can tell you what the loss means. They just won’t use the same words or phrases because everyone who went there, and we number in the thousands, will have their own take. This is mine.

Camp Tuolumne (too-ol-a-mee) was always going to burn down. That stretch of the Sierra Nevada’s is too hot and arid and inaccessible. The fact that camp lasted for 91 years is just about miraculous. It was never going to last forever.

To which statement you might reply, well, of course, sorry, but nothing lasts forever. Which means I wasn’t clear. The tent platforms, dining lodge, timber bridges, laundry room, bathrooms, arts and crafts area, dance hall, outdoor stage and slab-sided teepee were going to last only so long. But the Tuolumne that is a cloud castle of best self, campfire songs, first love, astonishment, fierce loyalty, second love, fishing awards, daring and discovery — that camp — that camp is as fireproof as youth and as indestructible as I don’t know what. Hope.


That said the loss of Camp Tuolumne is describable, and it is. It’s just not easily describable. It wasn’t a place or even an era. It was a dream, the scent of sun-baked pine needles, a culture of horse shoes and badminton, two weeks in July during which each day had a dozen moods, the dopey feeling of an afternoon nap in the heat on a cot under a war surplus canvas tent and the taser shock of cold water when you dive in and swim for Beaver Head Rock.

At Tuolumne, the pancakes were irrationally delicious, the college guys on the boys staff were Olympians, the girls staff was a blend of Miss Americas and the best big sisters you never had. Our campfire songs were the merriest, our family night skits were beyond witty. The camp store next to the volley ball court had ·the most exotic candy bars as well as cold drinks you could get no where else. Potato chips tasted better, comic books read better. In short, Tuolumne was Life and the other 50 weeks of the year were a time of weary exile when you grew pale and petty and so did everyone else.

When I was 12, I wrote myself a letter from camp. Camper Me urged my city self not go back to my other self, to keep the flame going, to hold onto the handsomeness, the lightness of being. The light.

Every pathway of memory leads me back to Tuolumne. None leads out.

My parents, Mildred and Carl Fay, were better people at camp. My father, a Berkeley fireman, was a product of the Great Depression and abandonment by his own father. By the time I came along in 1949, he had buried two infant daughters. His surviving children, six in all, were obligations and responsibilities, and he was a responsible dad. But he didn’t know you could have fun with your children.

Except at camp. Once we arrived at camp after the long drive, the backseat shoving and whining, the bickering and boredom and the very occasional barf, my dad shed his wary intensity, traded it for two weeks of rest, hikes, swimming (he swam at Tuolumne and no where else), naps, big meals in the lodge and singing. He would break into “My Fair Lady” or “Oklahoma” during Happy Hour.

After lunch and Quiet Hour, we emerged from our tent (they were more like cabins with canvas walls and roofs) for a bracing swim. As a very little boy, my dad took me swimming on his back. I hung onto his trapezoids as he muscled through a modified breast stroke, barely keeping his chin above water, his breath coming in measured gasps. Umm-pfff, umm-pfff. The skin on his broad back was baby smooth. It was the closest I ever got to him.

My mother’s transformation was more subtle, but still substantive. Most significant was her opening of a charge account at the camp store. We all could use it. It was an impossible benevolence; it made everything free: ping pong balls, badminton birdies, salmon eggs for trout fishing bait, Coke, fish hooks, Sea ‘n’ Ski, ice cream sandwiches, Mars bars. This was not the way it worked back home.

When I was tiny, I spent most of the day in mini-programs with beautifically patient staff girls. I learned to swim in the Minnows Program. Each year, a new accomplishment: assembling a B-17 bomber model from a kit, catching several rainbow trout (great name!), climbing to the top of Sawmill Mountain and leaping past a rattle snake and, when I was 14, kissing a girl on the lips. That’s as far as it went. But I wasn’t complaining.

Kids who came to camp year after year developed a loyalty, a chauvinism, that exceeded Japanese nationalism. We thought people who went to Oakland Camp or San Francisco’s Camp Mather or the San Jose Camp – all within several miles of Tuolumne – were hopeless losers. There was only one camp.


One last thing: Camp Fire.

Without a camp fire, it ain’t camp. It’s a visit – at best, a picnic with swim. Camp fire seals the deal and Tuolumne camp fires unfailingly rocked. We gathered at 7:30. The boys staff guys would ignite the kind of inferno Incas used to sacrifice virgins: driftwood, logs and the super-sized pine cones that only Tuolumne’s super-sized sugar pines could birth. Bill Rhodes, the unflappable camp director throughout my childhood, stepped forward and, without preamble, started singing “Did You Ever See a Fishy on a Bright and Summer Day?” Three words into the song and we had all joined in. More songs followed, the lyrics known only to us campers. Then followed the evening’s entertainment .

Onto the rustic boards came the players. It depended on the day of the week . There was campers night, children’s night, table night, staff night and Aquacade … which took place down on the water with the girls staff doing an Esther Williams number at the base of Beaver Head. The night’s program always concluded with (need we say?) “Day is Done, Gone the Sun.”

Then to bed: sleeping bags under the stars. The stars. Even in the 1950s and ’60s, starlight was a rare species in Berkeley. At Tuolumne, the entire solar system was on show. My experience at camp was so life shaping, so, oh hell, so indelible, that I was primed and prepped when the Down East Family YMCA decided we needed a summer camp kids could call their own.

Cooper Friend led the fundraising charge. It took two years of asking people and banks and utility companies and newspapers and construction companies and foundations and each other for money. Our little group was motivated and heaven help the poor schmoe who asked me why I thought a summer camp was such a big deal …

Big deal? Only deal. I had promises to keep. Fifty-one years earlier I had received a letter from a skinny squirt with freckles and a goofy grin holding up a l0-inch rainbow trout he’d just caught . Don’t forget camp, he said. Like I was going to let Camper Me down?

I don’t think so.

Stephen Fay, managing editor of The Ellsworth American, is chairman of the Board of Directors of the James Russell Wiggins Down East Family YMCA.

Photos by Tim Messick  – http://www.timmessick.com/store-btc


Register for Sierra Family Camp 2015!

Register for next Summer!
a message from Craig our Camp Manager!

I want to share that summer 2015 Echo Lake Family Camp registration opens for Berkeley residents on Monday, November 17, 2014.  Non-resident registration begins Friday, November 21, 2014.

We have updated our Echo Lake Camp Website with 2015 calendars, program information, registration forms, and general camp information.  Feel free to pass this information along to interested individuals or groups.


There are several new additions to the Summer 2015 Family Camp program:

·         A Family Camp Counselor In Training (CIT) program

·         An Artist-In-Residence (AIR) program in conjunction with Family Camp

·         Additional Family Camp days of availability.

view from echo lake camp

Pending City Council approval December 16, Echo Lake Camp will offer Fish Camp programs (June 18-20, and August 28-September 4) and a special Alumni Weekend (Labor Day Weekend September 4-8) in 2015.  More information will be released as we continue to develop our 2015 programs.

Questions or comments can be directed to Craig Veramay, or to the City of Berkeley Recreation Offices:

City of Berkeley Recreation Office

1947 Center St. 1st Floor

Berkeley, CA 94704

E-Mail: camps@cityofberkeley.info

P: (510) 981-5140

F: (510) 981-5160

Nov 7, 2014 – Visit to Camp with The City of Berkeley and USFS

FOBTC Board members visit Camp with US Forest Service and City officials

Last Friday, November 7th, Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp Board Members took part in a tour of our beloved camp along with City of Berkeley and US Forest Service (USFS) officials. Scott Ferris, Berkeley Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Director, led the tour, which included the US Forest Service’s Groveland District Ranger Jim Junette and Recreation Specialist Dusty Vaughn; Camp Tuolumne Master Planners Patrick and Jane Miller from 2M Associates; Toni Mester from the Parks Commission;  Recreation Services Manager Denise Brown, and City of Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates.

Scott and Denise provided the USFS and City officials with background information on BTC’s history and operations. We walked through all of camp, including the area that was left untouched – down by cabin 36 and 37. FOBTC Board Members shared their memories as former staff and campers.

In September, all of the approximately 1400 ‘hazard trees’ identified by arborists were taken down. FOBTC was very active advocating for oversight and extremely careful logging, and are pleased to report that ONLY hazardous trees were removed, and the contractor, Sierra Pacific Industries, did a good job of minimizing impacts. In fact, many logs were deliberately left parallel to the contours of the hills, to prevent soil erosion.

This was the first time that all parties (the City of Berkeley, The USFS, and FOBTC) saw the site after the hazard trees were logged. Despite the shock of seeing the Rim Fire’s destruction, the tour was actually very positive and the future looks bright, even with so many trees gone. Here’s what we saw:

The Site:

The Rim Fire came down from above Girls Camp and burned quickly through the entrance and center of Camp. As you know, it destroyed all the buildings in main camp, and all the tents on the hillside above main camp and girls camp. From the parking area to the Stage area, including Thimbleberry Creek, and down hill all the way to the river in main camp, there are very few trees left standing. That is the worst of the damage, and the most shocking. It is an open, raw space now. A new open canvas to create a future camp on.


the view from the parking lot looking towards Girls Camp

Sun City was also dramatically affected, except for the bathrooms and a couple of cabins. Even the worst fire in history cannot take down THOSE bathrooms! 🙂

But the amazing thing is, heading towards lower beach from Main camp, many cabins still stand, and many pines, firs, and dogwoods are still standing tall! The fire did damage some trees in this area and the lower bathrooms were also burned but the area was not hit head-on like the center of camp.  A few hazardous trees in this area were felled in the recent logging operation and it is our hope that most if not all of the remaining fire-damaged trees will survive. Lower Beach itself looks ready right now for cocktail hour, horseshoes, and for kids fishing or rafting.


There is no softening the blow though: it is devastating and heartbreaking to see open space where our Green Chair Circle, Volleyball Court, Office, Rec Hall, and D-Hall used to be. There are piles of burnt logs and slash where we used to play ping pong. There are lonely concrete slabs where the K-Staff used to make morning pancakes and the Rec Staff used to lead tie-dye t-shirts.

the Green Circle of Chairs area and the D-Hall steps in August

When we walked in from the road, our first impression was that Camp looked so small. Without the trees, you can now see so much more of the land we’re on – the steep hillsides and contoured terrain. It’s beautiful in a natural way. From above Girls Camp, it actually resembles a beautiful little natural amphitheater, ringed by the tall trees that survived the fire.

                                                                                   Next steps:
There were many constructive conversations about the future of camp. And while we look forward, we need to bear in mind that more trees will probably need to come down – particularly if the drought continues. We’re all hoping for a robust winter so that the dogwoods, black oaks, and maples can resprout, and so we’ll begin to see new pines, firs, and cedars sprouting up. There will be another check after the winter on how specific trees are doing. Pray for rain and snow, but not TOO much rain or snow; we need the topsoil to remain in place.  🙂

The City of Berkeley is working with their Master Planners (2m Associates) and with the USFS to iron out the new Master Plan, as they negotiate a new Special Use Permit (lease) and move forward with rebuilding camp. In our visit, the tone was definitely upbeat and collaborative. All parties seem to be committed to working towards rebuilding our beloved BTC right there at 31585 Hardin Flat Rd!

Groveland District Ranger Jim Junette expressed that we have a ‘clean slate’ and Recreation Specialist Dusty Vaughn also emphasized the value of having family camps in the Stanislaus National Forest. Everyone seemed to be on the same page, and looking to work together to rebuild this special treasure. Our friends at the Forest Service were very reassuring that the tree cover would eventually come back. FOBTC is excited to fund raise, advocate, and plan for the eventual support of reforestation efforts, trail rebuilding, environmental education programming, and whatever else our new Camp Tuolumne will need.

There will be a time in the Master Planning process for public comment and camper involvement, and we promise to let you know about that opportunity so that you can bring your ideas and concerns. It will not be for a while, as there are still lease, permitting, insurance, and other issues to be worked out by the City and other stakeholders. But when that day comes, we’ll begin the next exciting chapter of rebuilding Camp!

Visiting the Area:
The USFS will be reopening the Rim Fire Area on November 14th. Here is the link to their website for more information: http://www.fs.usda.gov/stanislaus/

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The Fall leaves at Rainbow Pool were beautiful last weekend

We also heard that Tuolumne County will be reopening the Hardin Flat to visitors beginning November 18th. You can get more information or contact information at this site: http://www.tuolumnecounty.ca.gov/

This means that if you and your family or friends would like to drive up to the area and visit, you will be able to drive up after November 18th. While you can drive on Harden Flat Road, the City of Berkeley is still prohibiting people from actually going on the lease area, because it is still hazardous.

It will be Trespassing to go onto any part of the Camp Area, so please obey this law. It is imperative that we all respect this boundary.

But you can walk along Hardin Flat Road, or hike the fire roads above Camp, or hike up to Small Falls. Please keep in mind that all areas of the Rim Fire area are dangerous, as trails are damaged from fallen trees, loose rock, and debris.

Again, to respect our beloved camp and the City’s work to rebuild – please DO NOT go on the actual camp grounds.

FOBTC is committed to continuing to monitor all work and progress on behalf of the Camper community, and to communicate any information to you we can. We are your eyes and ears and your advocacy organization, and are dedicated to the rebuilding of Camp.

Contact: scott@FOBTC.com with any questions/comments/suggestions

Join us next Thursday Oct 9th to celebrate The Tuolumne River’s 30th anniversary of Wild and Scenic Status!



Dearest Campers!

Thirty years ago Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp played a key role in securing Wild and Scenic status for 83 miles of the Tuolumne River.

On Thursday October 9th 6pm – 9pm, at Jack London Square in Oakland, we are attending the Tuolumne River Trust’s Wild and Scenic anniversary celebration and annual benefit. Join the likes of Barbara Boxer, Congressman George Miller, Richard Chamberlain and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for this historic night!

Tickets available at http://tinyurl.com/WildandScenic

($50 includes beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres)


Golf Tournament a success!


Hey Campers + Staff,

We had a phenomenal fundraiser on Friday, the 1st Annual BTC Golf Tournament! On a bright and sunny day, 93 golfers competed in teams, and brought the Tuolumne Spirit to the greens and fairways of Tilden Park. About 200 supporters attended the dinner and live auction on Friday evening, including the Honorable City Council Members Darryl Moore, Linda Maio, and Laurie Capitelli, current and past staff members, and a lot of good old Camp friends.

Jim Whitty, camper and volunteer extraordinaire, and our very own Scott Gelfand, worked the mic during the Live Auction. We auctioned off 10 items, including a stay at a vacation house in Mexico, generously donated by the Kletz Family. Campers and Staff also took home 40 fantastic raffle items, which were generously donated by campers and local businesses. Many local businesses also sponsored the 18 holes, and deserve credit and your business! Please support the businesses that support us! They are listed below.

This event was a big success, both in terms of keeping the Tuolumne Spirit alive and well, and also as a fundraiser. We owe a ton of thanks to our super-camper-volunteers, Jim and Katie Whitty, for working tirelessly and with their network of friends and FOBTC to organize and run the event. (“Round the Hall you must go, you must go, you must go!”) Many thanks to the former and current staff who worked out on the course, and to ous super volunteers Jim, Katie, Michael, Trish, and Mike for setting up, running the registration table, and keeping everything running smoothly.

It will take a real team effort for us to help get Camp rebuilt. Many thanks to Jim and Katie for devoting so much time, energy, and resources to make our first Golf Tournament a huge success!

Please join us in thanking the many sponsors and supporters of this event:

Event/Support Staffers:
Locke Jaeger, Michael Baum, Trish O’Regan and Mike Frauenfelder, the fabulous Phil Coffin, Laura Gold, Judi Newell, Babs Kavanaugh. Awesome staff, CIT, camper volunteers were: Frankie, Brennan, Maria, Lucie, Oona,Nina, Angie, Darion, Fitzy, Angelika, Maddie, Jo, Jessica, Ashton (hope I’m not forgetting anyone!) Special big thanks to Jim and Katie Whitty. Thank you Theo for the green chair!!

1. Clif Bar and Chris Randall
2. Comfort Zone and Sharon Krieger
3. Mother Jones and David Rothenberg
4. Ty Alper for School Board
5. Lions Club and Dave Nicely/Jay Touriel
6. Lee, Brian and Dan at the Evergreen Lodge
7. Red Oak Realty and Schuyler Oliver
8. Meeta and Manish Doshi and Doshi Professional Dental Corporation
9. McCullough & Associates and Leon Wiatrak
10. Bakesale Betty and Alison Barakat
11.JVM Lending and Heejin Kim
12. Mechanics Bank
13. Monaghans on the Hill and Dave Newell

And a big thank you to all our supporters, we couldn’t do this without the support of the following:

The Evergreen Lodge, Disneyland, Allison Banks and GoPro, Restaurante Dona Thomas, Flora Restaurant & Bar, Bay Wolf Restaurant, Rivoli Restaurant, iScream, Masse’s Pastries, The Cheeseboard Collective, Cole Coffee, Le Petit Cochon, The Buddy Club, The DeYoung Museum, Yabbles Hats, Plantillo, The Dailey Method, Broadway Terrace Nursery, Dawn Trygstad Acupressure, Julie Orman Chiropractic, Safeway, Phil Coffin, Cakes by Jessica, Valerie & Eric Kratzer, Harvey Kletz, Dave Newell, Veneggs, Tim Messick Photography, Rishi Schweig, Richard Sheng, Sommelier Jonathan Waters, Kerry & Brian Dahm, Manish Doshi, Theo Jerome, Mira Vista Golf and Country Club, St.Mary’s Youth Sports Camp, Lisa Kirkby Desserts & Bakesale Betty

Thank you to the crew at The Tilden Park Golf Course
for enthusiastically embracing our camp spirit, and to
Taqueria Hecho en Mexico – the meal was great!

Rafting the South Fork

We are all so loyal to our beloved South Fork Tuolumne River, but we at FOBTC want to encourage everyone to explore and enjoy the whole Tuolumne Watershed! There’s so much to do up there (beyond our shangri-la on Hardin Flat Rd) and a lot of great organizations to get involved with.

This weekend I had an unforgettable time whitewater rafting down the Main Fork Tuolumne River with Sierra Mac River Trips (www.sierramac.com). Sierra Mac is one of the premier whitewater rafting companies, and was founded by the great Marty McDonnell, who also co-founded the Tuolumne River Trust, and was part of the coalition that helped stop hydroelectric projects from flooding BTC back in the 1980’s.

I was signed up for the Cherry Creek/Tuolumne run. I’d only been whitewater rafting once, on some Class III and IV back east many years ago, so I gotta admit, there was some trepidation about taking a primarily Class V trip when I pulled up to the parking lot at 6:00am.

We took a van down the Cherry Lake Rd, past San Jose Camp, and all the way down to one of San Francisco’s dams on Cherry Creek where they generate hydroelectric power. Our guides, Adam and Tom, provided a thorough overview, healthy breakfast, and pre-trip coaching. It felt like bootcamp at times, and that’s just what we needed to get mentally prepared and to feel confident. Throughout the trip, Adam and Tom skillfully and confidently guided us through some really intense drops, rapids, and chutes. They knew that river intimately, like we all know the South Fork intimately, and they could always tell us what rock, eddy, rapid, or other feature was around the corner and how we were going to handle it.

I gotta tell you, this is not like rafting down the South Fork to Naco at quiet hour. It’s also not like Rip Roaring Rapids at Great America amusement park. It was like 100 ‘pee-wee secrets’ per minute for five straight hours. It was like jumping off Beaverhead 100 times during morning swim! OK, got it? The main fork drains Tuolumne Meadows, the Hetch Hetchy area, Cherry Lake, the Middle Fork, Clavey River, and our South Fork. With such a huge watershed, there was a ton of water in the Main Fork, and we were flying down the canyon. The water was moving between 5 and 10 mph, and some of the drops and rapids were pretty severe. It took a lot of agility, balance, and hard work, but everyone on my boat did great, thanks to good coaching from our river guide, Tom. After getting the hang of it, it was an incredibly beautiful and rich way to enjoy a Sierra Nevada river. Of course I’m partial to climbing up Beaverhead, or hiking to Small Falls, or dangling my feet in the water below Arts & Crafts……that will always be my favorite way to pass a summer afternoon. But after this amazing trip, I also highly recommend taking a whitewater rafting trip down the Main Fork Tuolumne.

In our longterm effort to rebuild BTC, it’s important for us to also a) support the larger Rim Fire reforestation effort, b) support businesses along Highway 120, c) continue to protect the whole Tuolumne watershed, and d) build relationships with business and non-profit partners in the Stanislaus National Forest. And hey- why not have the time of your life while you’re at it? So check out Sierra Mac for a whitewater rafting adventure!

Phil Coffin

Great News on the Rim Fire Recovery Plan

Dear Campers,

As you may have already read in the papers, the Stanislaus National Forest has announced its plans for salvage logging in the Rim Fire Area. In May and June, FOBTC worked closely with the Tuolumne River Trust and Yosemite-Stanislaus Solutions to understand the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and lead our letter-writing efforts. We first want to thank those of you that wrote letters to the US Forest Service in June, expressing our concerns about road building, wildlife habitat, and localized impacts near Camp.

Great News!!! We, along with our allies at the Tuolumne River Trust and Yosemite-Stanislaus Solutions, are very pleased with the plan announced by the Forest Service; they listened to all of the stakeholders and to you – the campers!

Organizations such as the Tuolumne River Trust (our old ally) and Yosemite-Stanislaus Solutions (of which we are a member) built a broad coalition to address the original US Forest Service proposal. The USFS responded to the stakeholders.

By incorporating a variety the input from environmental, recreation, local businesses, and timber interests, the highlights of this plan include:

For Us:
– This plan does not directly impact Berkeley Tuolumne Camp, which will be treated separately. Only hazardous trees are being removed!

– While ‘Hazard Tree Removal’ will soon take place at Berkeley Tuolumne Camp (we want that of course), FOBTC hopes to work with the City of Berkeley and the US Forest Service to ensure that environmental impacts are reduced and ALL healthy trees are left standing.

Forest wide:
– Salvage logging will take place on less than half of the acres that the US Forest Service originally proposed.

– It reduces the amount of timber harvested from 650 million board feet down to less than 210 million board feet. This is more consistent with the actual capacity of local lumber mills.

– Only 20% of the entire Rim Fire area will be salvaged logged. This will allow a lot of snag trees and wildlife habitat to remain untouched.

So, campers, thank you again for making your voices heard in June, and stay tuned for more updates as we work with our regional allies to influence the next chapter in the Rim Fire Recovery: the Reforestation Proposal.

Through this broad spectrum of support our allies and we can lobby for increased federal funding essential for the far-reaching restoration work required to restore the health of the forest and watershed.

This is a victory today for the USFS doing business in a new way, incorporating all the various stakeholder groups and working together in a cohesive way to sort out solutions! Progress!!

And for us, it gives our precious 14.5 acres a special prescription plan that focuses on hazardous tree removal only and special considerations when replanting begins. We truly are excited about this news..