Echo courtesy city of Berkeley
Echo Lake camp. Photo courtesy city of Berkeley

Berkeley Family Camp this summer will be offered at the city’s Echo Lake Camp, near Lake Tahoe, for five weeks. The city’s Tuolumne Family camp near Yosemite burned down in the August 2013 Rim Fire.

Camp sessions will run June 21-July 7, July 11-20 and July 25-Aug. 4.  The length of stay will be flexible, just like it has been at Tuolumne Camp. Registration begins Feb. 12 for residents and Feb. 19 for non-residents. Rates and more information are expected to be available this week at the city’s recreation department website or by phone, 510-981-5150.

Echo Lake Camp is located just off Highway 50, a few miles south of Lake Tahoe, and about a three-hour drive from Berkeley.  The camp’s elevation is 7,400 feet, nearly 4,000 feet higher than Tuolumne Camp (and colder at night). It sits alongside the Pacific Crest Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail near the El Dorado National Forest.  The camp “boasts incredible views,” according to a city press release.

The city looked at 30 locations for family camp, said Matthai Chakko, the city’s public information officer. At a Parks Commission meeting in January, Camp Sequoia Lake, a YMCA property near Kings Canyon and Sequoia national parks, was discussed as the likely site for this summer’s Berkeley family camp. However, that option did not work out for a variety of reasons, a city staff member said.

Echo Lake won’t be able to accommodate as many campers as Tuolumne. Echo Lake Camp has 33 cabins, compared to Tuolumne’s 72. The tent cabins, canvas-covered frames like at Tuolumne, vary in size and hold from four to eight people each.

Echo Lake Camp can accommodate 140 for meals, while Tuolumne could serve 280.

In past summers, Echo Lake has operated as an overnight camp for kids Monday through Friday for six weeks, and as a family camp on weekends, as well as for two full weeks.  This year the youth camp will be offered for only three weeks in August.

In addition to hiking and biking near camp, the Echo Lake property offers fishing, a swimming pool, archery, bocce ball, basketball, volleyball, badminton, horseshoes and a hot tub. Both camps were founded in the 1920s.

Chakko said that details on traditional Tuolumne camp activities – from kiddie camp to tie-dying – are still being worked out.  He also said the city would reach out to past Tuolumne staff, but that this summer’s program wouldn’t simply be Tuolumne-Camp-somewhere-else. The city is calling it Berkeley Sierra Family Camp at Echo Lake.

“This is a blending of two camp traditions,” Chakko said.

Tuolumne Family Camp unsafe for visitors, says city (12.20.13)
Berkeley Tuolumne Camp supporters push to rebuild (10.16.13)
Commission, public discuss priorities for Berkeley’s parks (10.04.13)
4 public meetings planned on future of Berkeley parks (09.05.13)
After the fire: What next for Berkeley Tuolumne Camp? (09.05.13)
Berkeley gathers to remember much-loved Tuolumne Camp (08.27.13)
Rim Fire destroys Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp (08.25.13) 
Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp appears safe for now (08.24.13) 
Berkeley’s Tuolumne Family camp closed due to wildfires (08.22.13)
Wildfires put Tuolumne Family Camp on evacuation alert (08.20.13)
Hungry for better food at Echo Lake Camp (09.02.11)

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Mary Flaherty is a freelance reporter who has lived in the Berkeley area for since 1994. She earned a masters in journalism from UC Berkeley, and has reported for several local papers and copyedited for...