Because Camp Tawonga is located just a few miles from Yosemite National Park, campers are fortunate to have several opportunities to explore one of the most beautiful places in the world. Every session, each bunk goes on a one-to-two-night backpacking trip into Yosemite National Park or Stanislaus National Forest with their counselors and one of our incredible Wilderness Staff Leaders (believe it or not, Tawonga is Yosemite’s largest commercial user). These backpacking trips empower campers to build a partnership with nature, a cooperative community and self-esteem – all essential tenants of our four-part Mission.
For many campers, this is their first real backcountry experience where they get to sleep under the stars and fully immerse themselves in nature. While this process is physically and mentally challenging, it’s a unique opportunity to experience adventure as a bunk unit and bond in a really amazing way. Juliet, our Assistant Head of Wilderness, shared:
I feel like these backpacking trips are incredibly empowering for kids. It takes away a lot of pressure when they’re in a big group out in nature without the common stimulations of everyday life. They get a chance to be fully themselves and feel present with their bunkmates. Our Wilderness team also does a really great job of taking away the fears of nature and creating a space for campers to feel safe and a sense of stewardship of our environment.
While hiking together to their campsites, campers learn to rely on each other and work as a team through tasks like carrying food and shared supplies, cooking meals and setting up and breaking down camp. These backpacking trips give campers the tools to explore the natural world, their friendships and qualities about themselves that they may have never known they had!
Below, check out photos from the day, including our Chalutzim campers returning from their backpacking trips. Below are also photos from the Bagel Run (a day-hike where campers climb Clouds Rest or Half Dome); these are all taken by G-7 camper Tess C. – thanks Tess!