A Bat Mitzvah in the Woods…and Other Family Camp Highlights

“I was never given a number here, or a label. I was just Chloe.”

IMG_4165During her Bat Mitzvah drash this past weekend at Camp Tawonga’s season kick-off, Spring Family Camp, Chloe spoke these words about her connection to camp as 300 people witnessed this joyous milestone. In Tawonga’s 90-year history, this was the first Bar or Bat Mitzvah at Makom Shalom (Hebrew for “place of peace”), Tawonga’s outdoor sanctuary nestled among the hillside trees. Only three other B’nei Mitzvah have taken place at Tawonga – David and Eric Schwartz in the early 1980s on the girls’ side field, and Jake Kramarz (Ken Kramarz’ middle child) in 2000 at Hershey Rock.


As Chloe shared on Saturday: “My most vivid memory from three years ago was this area. I remember climbing on the rocks and enjoying the music in nature. This past year my parents asked me if I wanted my Bat Mitzvah in temple or in Israel. I decided I wanted it here [at Camp Tawonga] because it was the only place I felt close to G-d. For me, being isolated in trees for days was amazing.”


At Spring Family Camp this weekend, 70 families from all over the Bay Area as well as a few from Southern California and even Incline Village thoroughly enjoyed that amazing seclusion in the woods. Family Camp is a great way to introduce Tawonga to children, to bond as a family, and to make new friends in the magical setting of camp. While kids enjoyed programming with counselors in the mornings, parents chose between yoga, hiking the Tuolumne River, dialogue workshops, and learning about the Me-Wuk tribe, native to Tawonga’s land.


In the afternoons, families “floated” together, choosing between a dozen organized activities including paddle-boating on the lake, Arts & Crafts, and our Ropes Course. Evenings included talent shows, s’mores, and song sessions – and more than anything, the bonding between and across Tawonga families.

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You can click through the photos above.

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