Family camp is an all-inclusive get-away, but instead of a shiny resort with a swim-up bar, your surroundings are rustic and the swimming might be in a river or a lake. Many families love it so much, they return every year to the same cabin on the same week. But newcomers are always welcome, so we’ve put together this list for you of family camp options near the Bay Area.
What should we expect at a family camp?
Typically, you bring your own bedding and sleep in a modest cabin; meals and family programming are provided, which includes drop off childcare hours. Everyone eats together in a dining hall-type place, staffers, not guests, do the dishes, and families get on with playing or relaxing. Turn off your phone and enjoy archery, sing-alongs, and sugary cereal!
Some area overnight camps (aka sleepaway camps) run family camp sessions during specific weeks of the summer, while others are housed at dedicated family camp locations. Staffers run kid activities, maintain the facilities, and keep the meal services going.
If you’re considering a family camp for the first time, you have a bunch of cool options to consider within a few hours drive of the Bay Area.
If I missed your favorite, please let me know in the comments!
Family camps near the Bay Area
Families can use the facilities together to enjoy the outdoors. Take a canoe and paddle across Lake Vera, shoot for the bullseye on the archery range, test yourself on the ropes course, hike to the Yuba River for a swim, mountain bike on the miles of outstanding trails. Food included.
Where: Sierra Foothills
Pricing: Pay for long weekend camps by the session. $375 or $500 per person; Children under 6 are FREE
Bar 717 Ranch Summer Camp
Picture your whole family on a beautiful mountain ranch for a fun-filled week of trail riding, pig slopping, egg gathering, art making, taffy pulling, frog hunting, square dancing, and kicking back on the beach next to the river. Meals are prepared with food that is grown or raised on the Ranch. Sleep in cabins.
Where: Trinity County
Pricing: Pay $1425/week for an adult; $615 for kids 2-5; $825 for kids 6-11; $1025 for kids 12-17
Camp it Up! (LGBTQAI+ families)
For 30+ years, Camp It Up! has been combining all the joys of family camp and recreation with LGBTQIA family support and inclusion. The week of camp is full, but a waitlist is available.
Where: Oakland Feather River Camp in Quincy, CA
Pricing: Fees vary by age and prior experience with the camp.
Cazadero Family Performing Arts Camp
Caz Family Camp ignites or rekindles passions for music and performing in a family camp setting. Campers aged 2-5 are enrolled in Kid City for age-appropriate entertainment.
Where: Russian River, CA, Carmel Valley, CA, and another location in Longbranch, WA
Pricing: Rates vary by age; under two: free.
Feather River Camp
The family camp for Oakland. Sleep in cabins or tent cabins. Meals provided. Start with a morning yoga/stretch class or a quiet nature walk. After breakfast, try arts & crafts, group games, archery, horseback riding, tie-dye, a hike, or other special programs. Kids’ programs start at age 2. Half the tents and cabins have electricity (pay $5 surcharge).
Where: Quincy, CA
Pricing: Pay by the session (3-6 nights). Rates vary by age. Discounts for new campers and Oakland residents.
Echo Lake & Berkeley Tuolomne Family Camp
The City of Berkeley is offering Family Camp at both BTC and Echo Lake for 2022. Sleep in tent cabins and enjoy meals prepared in a communal dining hall. Childcare and mini-camps available starting at age two. Berkeley family camp traditions include the green chair circle, quiet hours, canoeing, the staff show, table night, theme days, tie-dye, campfires, swimming, and hiking.
Where: You pick between Tuolomne County near Yosemite or Echo Lake near S. Lake Tahoe
Pricing: New pricing scheme, weekday rate as low as $833. Discounts for Berkeley residents.
Lair of the Bear
Affiliated with Cal alumni, but open to everyone. Sleep in tent cabins and enjoy meals prepared in a communal dining hall. “The Lair” has three camps, all next to each other, each with its own swimming pool and outdoor athletic facilities. Organized children’s programming starts at age two. The Lair features a wide variety of offerings for parents looking for “me” time like hiking, music, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding on the lake, athletic competitions, and tournaments with the kids. Prices include meals, lodging, and programming.
Where: Pinecrest, CA
Pricing: Book by week, mini-week, or weekend. Discounts for Berkeley residents and Cal alumni.
The family camp for San Francisco. Sleep in rustic cabins with electric lights. Meals provided. Fishing, swimming, hiking, games, and more. A good jumping off point for other Yosemite exploration.
Where: Groveland, CA in the High Sierra near Yosemite
Pricing: Pay by the week or the night. Discounted rates for San Francisco residents.
Montecito Sequoia Family Camp
A combination of accommodations at Montecito Sequoia Lodge (including a lodge and suites with bathrooms!) from rustic cabins and fancier ones with meals in the lodge. Meals and activities (private lake, horseback riding, tennis) included.
Where: Kings Canyon National Park
Pricing: Rates vary a lot.
SkyLake Yosemite Camp
Skylake provides each family its own rustic but comfortable bunkhouse, fabulous buffet-style meals, a gorgeous private dock on Bass Lake, and plenty of activities to keep the whole family busy. The large dining hall, lakeside porch, and recreation room provide the social center for family camp. Everyone even gets a free horseback ride included. (Note: No childcare!)
Where: Wishon in Sierra National Forest
Pricing: Weekend Rates based on 3 Nights and 8 Meals (Minimum cabin charge is for 2 adults & 1 child); Adults/Teens: $400; Children (5-12): $195; 4 & Under: FREE
Camp Tawonga’s weekends for families offer 4 days of relaxation for adults and fun for kids. Family Camp offers a taste of all that Tawonga has to offer: Campfires, Shabbat, boating on the lake, arts and crafts, the Challenge Course, hiking to the river, yoga, curling up with a book, stargazing, delicious food, and free-flowing Peet’s Coffee.
Where: Sierra Mountains near Yosemite
Pricing: 3 years to adult: $540 to $610; 2 years and under: $335 to $385 (includes childcare!)
Disclosure: My family has been to the Berkeley Family Camp (at both Tuolomne and Echo Lake) so these summary blurbs are based on research and not my personal experience. Whitney has taken her fam to Lair of the Bear for the past three years, and I’ve heard tales. For amazing sleep-away options for kids, our overnight camp guide for Bay Area kids might have what you’re looking for.
If you’ve been to any Family Camp, share your experience in the comments!
[Photos by Heather Flett, Oakland Feather River Camp, Whitney Moss, and Lair of the Bear all rights reserved]