Q+A with Lair of the Bear

Years ago, I did some work with the Cal Alumni Association and heard mumblings of this mysterious summer thing called Lair of the Golden Bear. I was thrilled when David Smith reached out to us at {510} Families and offered to answer my silly questions.

Lair of the Bear family camp at Oski

I heard one has to be a Cal Alumni to go to Lair of the Bear. True or False?

You do not need to be a Cal alum to attend the Lair. The Cal (UC Berkeley) Alumni Association is our parent organization, and for more than 60 years, we have come to be renowned as a “Cal” camp. But we welcome all! We want to make it super clear that you don’t need to be a Cal alum to attend the Lair. In fact, only about 50% of our families are “Cal.”

Where is the Lair of the Bear?
It is located at 5,600 feet in the central Sierra Nevada town of Pinecrest, Ca – it’s just a short three hour drive from the Bay Area. Also of note, there are three Lair camps in total – Camps Blue, Gold, and Oski – and while located side-by-side, each features its own independent programming and facilities.

Is this camp recommended for kids? 

Our endless array of programming starts for children at age 2, and from there it never ends!

Lair “Family Camp” is a unique family experience to be sure. We certainly feel it is one of the best vacations your family will ever experience. The natural beauty of the region is unmatched: Mountains, pine trees, fresh air, crystalline lakes. Lair kids – and Lair families for that matter – come in all shapes and sizes and each forges lifelong friendships with fellow campers and our college staff, and kids especially relish the rare opportunity to explore wilderness on their own terms, in very safe and friendly surroundings.

Most of our families have in fact been coming for generations and have made the Lair a virtual home-away-from-home. To wit, it’s not unusual for families to bring everyone – from grandparents to grandchildren – to be together at camp.

Lair of the Bear staff 2012What do people do all day?

As much or as little as they would like!

As you wake up, there is so much to do for each member of the family during the day. Typically everyone goes their separate ways right after breakfast, and then families come together at mealtime or at the evening campfire.

During the morning, afternoon and evening kids’ programming sessions, the parents enjoy their vacation-within-the-vacation and precious “me” time. Or adults can participate in their own daily programs. Our official programming includes: Campfire shows, Disco Bingo, Ghost Stories, High Sierra hiking, guest speakers, paddle boating and kayaking, swimming and pool parties, dances, music, arts and crafts, yoga and pilates, volleyball, tennis, basketball, softball, athletic tournaments, talent shows, but to name a few. Or you can just read a book in your hammock underneath beautiful blue sky and towering pines.

What should I pack?

At night, the Lair’s guests stay in wooden A-frame cabins, each containing metal twin beds, a storage cabinet and electricity. Campers bring up all their own bedding. What else to bring: whatever you need to have fun in the sun! Lots of sunscreen, sports gear, costumes, a sweatshirt for the evenings, and the willingness to dive into something very different in this day and age!

Canoeing at lair of the bear

How do I sign up?

Contrary to popular belief, we have openings in some of our full-week sessions (mid-June to mid-August), and we have availability in our Mini-Week sessions (June) and family getaway weekends (August). Families who are new to the Lair often come to a shorter session, so they don’t have to commit a full week of vacation, and they can still see what all the excitement is about. For more information or to register: visit lairofthebear.org or call 510.642.0221.

How much does it cost?

Our traditional camping vacation is one week long, though we also offer weekend and Mini-Week getaways. We charge by person and each fee includes all food, programming and lodging. For a week long stay, the rates are:

  • Adults: $715
  • Teens (13-17): $615
  • Youth (9-12): $495
  • Youth (5-8): $455
  • Kids (2-4): $315
  • Under 2: FREE

+++
Thanks to David Smith, Marketing & Hospitality Manager for the Lair of the Golden Bear for answering my questions. Now, if only, he wants to send my family for a week-long getaway so we can really explore the place, I can let you know how relaxing it is…

[All photos from David Smith and Lair of the Bear]