Join FOBTC for an Update at our 1st Town Hall Meeting!


When: Tuesday Feb 10th 7pm – 9pm

Where: The Northbrae Community Church 941 the Alameda Berkeley

Cost: FREE – but space is limited so please RSVP to our Eventbrite page to get tickets

Please join the Board of The Friends of Berkeley Camp for a small group discussion and a chance to ask questions and voice concerns!

We want to include every camper in our work to rebuild Camp.

We’ll present an update on what we are working on behind the scenes, including photos of Camp, and where we are in the process of rebuilding Camp. This is YOUR chance meet “The Friends” and to get involved and updated, and help us keep our community strong and engaged as we move towards a new phase for Camp.

We hope you will join us and add your voice!

 CLICK HERE to RSVP and reserve your FREE tickets:


7pm Welcome and Introduction by Steve Geahry, the President of The Board, and The Board of Directors of FOBTC.  An Update and Presentation by the new part-time Executive Director Scott Gelfand including a slide show of Camp today, progress made in the past year, and what FOBTC is focused on for 2015, including an overview of table topics.

7:20pm   Small Group Table Discussions – We want to hear from YOU!  Please join a table and add your voice. Move around if you want to.

A. Events (Hosted by Phil and Jen) 

What kinds of events can keep the traditions strong and the community engaged?

B. Political Strategy and Partnerships (Hosted by Barry and Tim)

How can we create and foster alliances with key political and organizational stakeholders?

C. Fundraising/Capital Campaign/Membership (Hosted by Steve/Anne/Craig)

How should we organize our membership and plan a possible capital CAMPaign?

D. Public Relations & Communication (Hosted by Jenell and Richard)

How can we best present our brand and our message to the community and public?


8pm Each table’s Host Board Member reports what was discussed and next steps

8:30pm Large Group Discussion: Concerns, Questions, Dreams – Full group format to discuss what is on your mind, and for FOBTC to prioritize our work in 2015.

8:50pm Closing Comments and Next Steps Summarized

9pm Meeting Adjourned


End of the Year Update: Looking back to 2014 and ahead to 2015!

Hi dear Campers.. happy holidays to you and your family! What a busy year it has been for our beloved Berkeley Tuolumne Camp, and for the non-profit Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp! Here’s an end of year update and what is coming ahead in 2015.

Latest news regarding camp: The hazardous trees have been cut down at camp, and they’ve done a good job of being careful not to harm any camp land, and only remove the tagged trees. We were there with the Mayor and the City staff and USFS, making sure every effort to keep as many trees as possible was made. The road around camp is open now, but the property itself is closed to the public. You can see a lot from the road, but please, DO NOT trespass and go on Camp property.  We will present some photos in our February town hall meeting.


As we announced at The Staff Show last Monday night, negotiations and the Master Plan process are coming along and everyone involved (The City of Berkeley, the Insurance company and the US Forest Service) is positive and working together to get us back to that location. We will know a LOT more in the late spring/early summer hopefully, as this process gets completed. But for now, signs are very good and moving in the right direction for us. Hurray for the Scott Ferris and his City of Berkeley staff who are working SO hard on this.

The summer of 2014 found us a lovely temporary home at Sierra Family Camp, at Echo Lake in Tahoe, and what a beautiful camp it is! The City of Berkeley moved staff, programs and traditions there for 5 weeks of family camp in the effort to keep Camp Tuolumne families and staff continuing to enjoy the summer together. The weeks were sold out, and after some challenges and adjustments in a new environment, the general overall feedback was that it was lovely to be at CAMP together, and as the Staff Show sang, “Camp Spirit is Everywhere”.. it is in the friendships, the trees, the freezing cold water, and the green adirondack chairs…

The new green chair circle up at Echo Lake.

The new green chair circle up at Echo Lake.


There is still some availability to sign up for next summer!! Days are filling up, but you can get more information here:


2014 was a very big year for The Friends of Berkeley Camp!  5 new Board Members were added in the year as a few former Board members and founders moved to Emeritus Status, opening up positions for new energy and effort. Working with Board members who have been with the organization for 40 years, new Board President Steve Geahry guided the organization in updating its By-Laws and policies, creating new communication systems, organization tools and a new and improved web site.

This past November, FOBTC hired its first Executive Director in a part time capacity to continue to devote dedicated work time to the needs of the organization – advocacy with The National Forest Service, alliances with other stakeholders (City Camps, Yosemite Stanislaus Solutions, Tuolumne River Trust, other non-profit forest organizations, The City of Berkeley staff and policy makers), and the continuing effort to keep the Camp Community connected, informed, educated, and engaged.

image (3)

In the summer and fall of 2014, FOBTC participated in the Rim Fire Recovery Technical Workshop in Sacramento, and in Sonora. We are at the table representing the voice of recreation camps and campers who come to enjoy the forest, reminding the Forest Service of the importance of our beloved Camp and its historical place in the Stanislaus National Forest. We were asked to be a part of the Yosemite Stanislaus Solutions Group, thee advocacy and policy organization for the Stanislaus Forest. We found the USFS to be people who deeply care about the forest and environment, sympathetic to our loss, and allies in our mutual goal to rebuild at our old site. These relationships take time to build, but they are growing and maturing into excellent partners who have a similar dream.

Since the fire in August of 2013, FOBTC has organized many events to keep the Camp Spirit strong and alive:

In October at The Berkeley Rep (2013 Staff Show); in April at The Freight and Salvage (Table Night and Update from The Mayor of Berkeley); in August, the One Year Anniversary Campfire in Cordinices Park and the 1 yr Candlelight Vigil in the Park; in Sept, at Tilden Park the First Annual Tee Off for Tuolumne! and The Solano Stroll, parading behind a rolling green chair; and finally, last Monday  December 22nd, the 2014 Staff Show, The Wizard of Echo Lake, sold out at The Osher Studio in Berkeley. All of these events kept our camp community connected, singing our songs, reuniting our campers, and all conveniently here in Berkeley!

vigil 2014

What’s ahead in 2015:

Tuesday Feb 10th 7pm – 9pm –  “Meet The Friends!” – a town hall meeting in Berkeley for the camper community to talk with and meet the Board of the Friends of Berkeley Camp and ask questions, get updates, express fears, concerns, issues, and be included in the process of rebuilding our camp. Location will be announced.

Coming in April –  “The State of The Stanislaus National Forest” – a presentation and update from the US Forest Service on our favorite forest after the Rim Fire, and how you can get involved if you want.

June, July, August – work weekend, Fish Camp, and Family Camp at Sierra Family Camp!!

Saturday September 5th – The 2nd Annual Tee Off For Tuolumne! Fundraiser and Dinner/Auction

sunrise over camp

We love your support and hope you will get involved with us to further our mission to rebuild camp. You can make an end of the year tax-deductible donation by clicking on the Donate Here button, and/or let us know your email address and how you’d like to get involved, from event help to web site to community organizing, to fundraising.

Have a great holidays everyone and we look forward to the sun rising on 2015 with enthusiasm and optimism!

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

Scott Gelfand – FOBTC Executive Director and The Board of the Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp

Win an Authentic Adirondack Camp Chair at the Staff Show in Berkeley!


Hi Campers, Staff and Friends!! Happy holidays!

We have just released the final remaining 10 tickets to the The 2014 Staff Show, “The Wizard of Echo Lake” on Monday Dec 22nd in Berkeley – so if you want to come, buy your tickets NOW!

Buy Tickets to The Staff Show on Dec 22nd 7pm!

Whether you can make the show or not,  you can still have a chance to WIN the Raffle of the Year for a GREAT holiday gift, a Camp Chair! All new and painted green (of course), we will pick a winner at the show and you do NOT need to be there to win! We will also pick winners for t-shirts, and other donated items!

green chairs

All donations are tax-deductible, and go directly to the work of the Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp, supporting the mission of keeping the Camp Spirit and community strong, rebuilding camp and advocating and working with The City of Berkeley, the Stanislaus National Forest Service, and the staff at camp to provide the best camp experience possible for campers.

We will add your number of raffle tickets to the BIG GLASS Bowl and pick the winners at the show! We will then contact you via email (**Please let us know your email address) to coordinate getting you your Holiday Gift! I HOPE you win!!!

Click Below to Buy Your Raffle Tickets and Win Your Own Green Camp Chair!!

Buy 1 Raffle Ticket  – $8

Buy 5 Raffle Tickets – $30

Buy 10 Raffle Tickets – $50

Buy 20 Raffle Tickets – $80

We will see you at the show on the 22nd!

If you are not coming to the show, please let us know your email address if you bought raffle tickets so we can get you your Camp Chair (or t–shirt!)

Happy Holidays and thank you for helping us keep the Camp Spirit alive and well!!

 The Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp

Contact e-mail:

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  –

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  –


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


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:

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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:

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: 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

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