I recently got home from the world’s shortest ever visit to Berkeley Family Camp in Tuolomne. We had hoped to stay for four nights but stayed only one because my seven year old came down with walking pneumonia.
Huge bummer, but now we’ve had a taste and we will try again next summer armed with all our lessons learned.
This is what I learned:
- It’s not in Berkeley. Camp is in Groveland, CA, about a 3 hour drive from the East Bay with normal humans. The drive is about 4 hours long with a crying baby. The last half hour is super curvy and can make people car sick.
- What does a tent cabin look like? Everyone stays in wood-framed tent cabins enclosed by canvas flaps with a similar size open-air porch. I’ve heard that some folks like to sleep on the porch and just keep their stuff (or their kids inside) though we didn’t try it. For size, imagine fit 8 cots in 2 rows with no possible walking room. You can arrange the space however you like. Experienced folk also bring rugs!
- Expect pretty good food. We sat at communal assigned tables and meals are served family-style with refills on anything. The food was pretty good. There is a “picky eater” table that serves oatmeal, PB+J, and cereal at every meal. 24/7 coffee and cocoa. BYO snacks.
- It’s like being in a movie. All the counselor merriment made me feel like I stepped into Dirty Dancing with optional talent shows, archery class, and volleyball games. Kiddie camp is available for ages 2 and up (making a visit with a crawler or toddler less than relaxing). We spent afternoons swimming and eating ice cream. Families can also opt out and hike or visit nearby Yosemite for the day. Anything goes.
- Quiet hour is pretty darn quiet. After lunch, the camp goes silent. Nap, read, meditate, or try to get your baby to rest. Kids can nap or be entertained by camp activities.
- Happy hour is nightly. There are more children’s activities just before dinner so parents can relax with some gin+tonic. BYO or make new friends.
- What to pack. Excellent packing lists are available on the Berkeley Camps website and also Berkeley Parents Network from Ginger. Feel free to bring everything that will fit in your car. Exuberant teenagers will unload your car to your cabin and reverse it at the end of your stay. But leave the stroller at home. We made do with baby carriers and a portable crib.
I can imagine making Berkeley Family Camp an annual tradition, especially once our baby is eligible for kiddie camp. My husband and five year-old had the time of their lives.
I’ll tell you more about Berkeley Family Camp with a baby in my second installment.
Photo credit: heather flett