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Wednesday, August 27, 2014


A friend of mine, his wife and their elementary school kiddle take a week or two each summer and go to a family camp. You know — summer camp for you, spouse AND kids.  I was unaware this sort of thing existed.

When I was a wee spawn I despised being sent off to camp with a blue/white passion. In the summers all I wanted was to take walks (by myself) and sit in my room (alone) reading. Spending time with a shit-ton of ankle biters, hopped up on fresh air and “bug juice,” making key chains woven from leather-ish laces was just about the last thing on the planet that I wanted. Plus, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I had to change into my swim suit in front of everyone!

The horror, the horror!

**Understatement Alert**
I was not a bold, outgoing child.

We, my family, would go camping though. All six of us in one small-ish tent (to be fair, big enough wasn’t possible). It was what we did when we’d travel back east after moving to Western Pennsylvania and then Bloomington, Indiana. And it was awful.

We weren’t the most harmonious batch of rug rats. OK, that was mostly my brother and I. We weren’t each other’s biggest fan to say the very least.

In any case, my folks — Chuck and Lu — seemed to just LOVE this tenting about shit. My mother sewed us all sleeping bags. Yes, you read that right — mia madre created our sleep sacks! Daddy bought a Coleman stove and he and Mother would take turns cooking. I was a big fan of Pop’s efforts — Fried baloney sandwiches! Oleaginous frizzled eggs! Buttery pan warmed toast!

Yup, the old man didn’t get a lot of opportunity to break out his corrupting meal creations.

So then, camping wasn’t all bad.

As a young adult I did the tent-in-the-woods thing with friends. I figured “I’ll enjoy this now because I’m with my chums.” Ah...nope.

I slept on a futon for eons and that’s as close to cold, hard ground as I want to get. Ever. Bathroom, with flush toilets and hot showers, is across the grounds? No, that just won’t do. Pee/poop in the woods? Don’t make me laugh/cry/scream. Please!

The closest I’ll come to camping now is a B&B with the loo down the hall.

Having said that, I can see how, if you’ve a copacetic, gregarious clan, the family camp thing could be a lot of fun.

Not sure where my pals in Northern California go but I found a couple interesting places on line:

Berkeley Tuolumne Camp
The staff provides social, nature, and athletic programs for all ages, including hiking, nature studies, and multi-cultural crafts.
The Artist-in-Residence program features a different professional artist each week teaching classes such as ceramics, drawing or performing arts.
  • Supervised recreational programs all day.
  • Recreation activities include volleyball, basketball, badminton, horseshoes, ping pong, archery, and day/evening hiking.
  • A “Kiddie Camp” for children ages 2-6 is held 3 times daily.
  • Special children’s activities for ages 5-12 occur daily.
  • Explore beautiful forests and streams.
  • Private, cozy tent-cabins for your comfort.
  • Swimming and fishing in the Tuolumne River.
  • Warm days and cool nights.
The rates include three family-style meals daily in our beautiful Dining Hall.
Nearby attractions include Yosemite National Park, great day hiking trails in Stanislaus National Forest, gold rush towns of Sonora and Columbia, horseback riding, water-skiing, and Mono Lake.
I saw yoga noted somewhere on their site too!
Dunno if the place still exists though.
On August 25th, 2013, the massive Rim Fire ripped through the South Fork Tuolumne watershed and destroyed our beloved Berkeley Tuolumne Camp.
I hope they're able to rebuild. I really do.

Then there’s the Emandal Farm — a working farm but a chilled out, vaca place for families too.
Besides swimming, hiking, ping pong and such, campers can help out around the joint.
In 1908, Em and Al Byrnes opened up their home to friends who wished to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. All the fruits and vegetables served were grown on the farm, as were the meat and eggs. Em baked all the bread. Since 1946, the Adams family has continued the tradition of country vacations with farm grown and home cooked meals. Today Tamara Adams, following in the footsteps of her in-laws, Clive and Jessie Adams, and her late husband, Clive Adams, Jr., operates Emandal’s Family Camp in the summer, Environmental Education for school groups in the spring, and hosts groups, workshops and other special events throughout the year.
 I can see the allure of this sort of thing. No really! Just not for me.

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