2021 Program FAQs

We hope the FAQs below help to provide clarity on our 2021 season. This page provides our best answers at this time. As circumstances and guidance related to operating summer camp in the pandemic evolve, our plans may also shift accordingly, and we will keep our camp families closely informed. Click here for a PDF version of the information below, and click here for more specific COVID-19 related FAQs for enrolled families.

A Message From Our Camp Director About 2021

See the below video from our Camp Director, Becca Meyer, about our 2021 programs and decision-making process.

General Questions

Why are the summer session offerings different for 2021? (I don’t see the usual one week, two week, three week and 2.5-week programs)

  • Safety is our top priority. In order to maximize safety for campers and staff, we are minimizing the number of start dates when campers will arrive at Camp.
  • For the first 1-2 weeks of Session A and B, campers will be in a pod with just their bunkmates. Provided that everyone has tested and re-tested negative for COVID-19, in the second half of the session we may be able to transition to programming similar to past summers where units and other mixed-bunk groupings can interact. This would not be possible during shorter sessions.
  • We are offering a shorter Taste of Camp program at the end of the summer. As a result of the shorter time at Camp, these campers will remain in their pod for the duration of the program.

Has the public health department given the green light for summer camps to re-open?

Yes. The California Department of Public Health announced on March 11 that residential camps will be able to re-open starting June 1, 2021! As part of our planning process we are collaborating with the ACA and the CDC to ensure we develop our protocols in line with their recommendations and requirements.

3.5 week session highlights

Three and a half weeks at Camp offers the perfect blend of fun, friendship and independence! In addition to all of the classic Camp activities, these longer sessions give children the opportunity to form deeper bonds with their cabinmates and counselors, more time to enjoy Camp, more creative, new, and in-depth programs, three Shabbats, time on the challenge course, two-night backpacking trips and much more.

My kid is nervous about a long session, do you have any advice?

  • This is common! Click here for seven tips to prepare your child for Camp.
  • Join a Town Hall for parents to learn more about what to expect and get questions answered. Click here for more details and to RSVP.
  • About a month before your child’s session, we will email you a roster of other kids in your child’s session. This is a great time to reach out to other children in your area to set up some virtual playdates or socially distanced meet-ups. If you would like to set up a playdate before then, email registration@tawonga.org and we will help connect you with another family your child’s age.
  • For new families interested in checking out Tawonga before sending your child to Camp, we recommend joining an at-Camp tour with one of our directors. Sign up here for a tour on May 15 or May 16.
  • If you have further concerns and want to brainstorm ways to prepare your child for Camp, email info@tawonga.org to schedule a call with a director. We’re always happy to help!


In order to promote safety, our food service will follow best practices for operating during COVID-19, including limiting the number of people inside the Dining Hall at any time, eliminating buffets, and using outdoor dining as much as possible. All food workers will be masked while in the kitchen and serving food. We’ll provide more details as the summer approaches.

Activity restrictions

  • We’re so excited for the season ahead and are planning activities to make this summer incredible! For the first 1-2 weeks of Session A and B and for all of A Taste of Camp, campers will do all activities with their cabin group and will remain socially distanced from all other cabins. Regular camp activities such as arts and crafts, sports, hiking, river trips, garden blocks and drama will still happen. The only difference is that specialist staff will lead activities outside and with masks on. For our longer sessions, later in the session, provided that everyone has re-tested negative for COVID-19, we plan to offer unit activities and possibly all-Camp programs. We’ll provide more details as the summer approaches.
  • For A Taste of Camp, campers will do all activities with their cabin group for the duration of the program.

Daily schedule

Click here to see an example of a typical day at Camp this summer!

Technology policy

Camp is a wonderful opportunity for kids to unplug from technology and develop deep relationships and communication skills without distractions. Tech gadgets compete with the immersive experience that sleep-away camp creates for the campers. In addition, devices have a way of getting lost, broken, and unfortunately, sometimes even stolen at Camp.

Please do not allow your child to bring electronic items to Camp. This includes, but is not limited to the following: cell phones/smart phones, iPods, laptops, electronic games, DVD players, electronic readers and cameras with internet-uploading capability.

Health and Safety

Do you have COVID-19 policies in place to ensure safety for Camp programs?

Yes. We have developed extensive guidelines to proactively create safe programs by limiting the spread of communicable disease. These guidelines have all been created with our COVID Task Force, a team of experts advising us on best practices. All practices were developed to meet or exceed guidelines put forth by the American Camp Association (ACA), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Tuolumne County Department of Public Health. Click here to review COVID-19 policies for enrolled 2021 families. You can also read more about our COVID Task Force here.


We are optimistic that our summer staff will be vaccinated and are actively working with our staff to support this process. The CDC has approved summer staff as essential childcare workers in category 1B, so our staff is currently eligible to receive the vaccine in most counties. We are working with public health departments to get our staff vaccinated and the vast majority of our staff is reporting they have either received one shot or have appointments scheduled.

We do not expect campers to be vaccinated.

My child and/or someone in my immediate family is immunosuppressed. Can we still participate this summer?

Individuals who are immunosuppressed (as defined by their medical professional) or live in a home with an immunosuppressed person should consult with their doctor(s) before deciding whether or not to participate in a Camp program. Though we are taking extensive actions to keep Camp safe, Tawonga is not able to guarantee that a person on our site will not be exposed to COVID-19; thus, participation in a Camp program during the Coronavirus pandemic is not recommended for individuals with known vulnerabilities that put them at greater risk. If you have any concerns about this policy, please contact our office to set up a time to talk with a member of our director team.

What resources does Tawonga have in place to respond to illness at Camp?

  • The safety of our community is our top priority. Our fully-equipped health center is staffed 24 hours a day. Our medical team includes a doctor, nurse, and medical assistants. Our Health Center Director, Stacy Dorian, is a highly trained emergency room nurse who has worked with us for seven consecutive summers and was named “Camp Nurse of the Year” by the Association of Camp Nurses (more on Stacy here). Our volunteer physicians rotate throughout the summer, and specialize in emergency medicine, pediatrics, or family medicine.
  • We work with a COVID task force, a team of experts advising us on best practices. They will be available to advise us throughout the summer.
  • We built a brand new Health Center with upgraded amenities to better meet our campers’ health needs. This facility includes numerous isolation rooms to use as needed. We will also have additional spaces available for isolation if necessary.

Who is advising Tawonga on COVID-19 policies?

  • We have a COVID task force comprised of a team of experts advising us on best practices. They will be available to advise us throughout the summer.
  • Learn about our COVID task force members here.

COVID-19 symptoms and positive tests

  • All medical staff will be trained to identify and respond to COVID-19 symptoms. Any camper or staff who presents COVID-19 symptoms will quarantine in our designated Health Center isolation areas. We will conduct a COVID-19 test, and the family of the camper will immediately be contacted by the director of our health center and/or our doctor, who will share the plan for testing and treatment. We will perform contact tracing and will quarantine and test any close contacts of the affected individual.
  • If a camper tests positive for COVID-19, parents/guardians should plan to arrive at Camp and pick them up within 24 hours. If you’re not in town, please prepare your emergency contact for this expectation in advance.
  • In the event that we send your child home early as a result of a positive COVID-19 test, we will do our best to provide your family with a pro-rated refund; however, we cannot guarantee it at this time.

Who will be entering Camp this summer beyond campers and staff?

To ensure we keep the Camp quarantine “bubble” intact, no visitors will be allowed at Camp this summer. The only other people who will be allowed into Camp are vendors who provide essential items to Camp. These include UPS, FedEx, USPS, food deliveries, septic, propane, and our arborists. All vendors will be masked and away from children and staff.

What precautions has Tawonga taken to protect Camp from wildfires?

Tawonga has spent over a million dollars on fire prevention on our property in the last six years. We remove dead trees and brush annually, reducing the fuel load and increasing defensible space. We have our own wells and water tanks and store 3.5 million gallons of water on site for fire fighting. Our lake can be used as a dip site. Our property is inspected annually by CALFIRE. Adam Frese, the CALFIRE Division Chief in the Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit, has said he wishes everyone managed their property as well as Tawonga does.

What plans are in place in the case of a nearby fire or unhealthy air quality during a Camp program?

  • Tawonga has developed guidelines that follow both the EPA’s guidelines and the Tuolumne County Health Department’s recommendations for when to limit activities based on air quality.
  • Tawonga’s Dining Hall has been upgraded to allow cooling and air filtration and can be used to shelter in place during poor air quality events.
  • When air quality is unhealthy, we are prepared to take the following actions: monitor campers, modify activities, cancel outdoor activities that require heavy exertion, shelter in place in the Dining Hall, and consider evacuation.

How will you keep us up to date on the health and wellbeing of our children?

As always, we will call you if your child is ill or having difficulties adjusting to Camp. With the longer 3.5 week sessions, we will also provide a mid-session update for families. Otherwise, no news is good news! You are always welcome to reach out to us for an update on how your child is doing by contacting us at info@tawonga.org or calling our San Francisco office at 415.543.2267 and leaving a message. We will respond to all inquiries within 24 hours during normal business hours. You are also welcome to follow the blog for daily updates from Tawonga – subscribe here.

 Registration & Programs

Registration and program dates

Registration is open to everyone! Returning families can register here. New families can register here.

Visit www.tawonga.org/dates-rates to view 2021 program dates. Please note that programs and program dates may change as a result of COVID-19.

Can I register and have my child leave the session early?

No. For bunk cohesion as well as safety, no early departures will be permitted. It is critical both to our quarantine bubble and to the arc of the session to have everyone begin and end the session together. Thus we will not be permitting late arrivals or early departures.

A Taste of Camp

  • We are planning to run A Taste of Camp for rising 2nd through 7th graders from August 8 – 11. This is a great introduction to sleep-away camp!
  • Campers will have the opportunity to participate in classic Camp activities including swimming, boating, arts and crafts, nature activities, archery, s’mores and more.
  • We are offering an all-gender cabin for rising 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders. Click here to learn more and email shoshie@tawonga.org with any questions!

Adventure Quests

We have a full slate of Quest offerings – click here to learn more.

All-Gender Cabins

We will be offering all-gender cabins for rising 5th through 10th graders during Session B (July 11 – August 5) and for rising 2nd through 4th graders during A Taste of Camp (Aug 8 – 11). We also offer all-gender Adventure Quests throughout the summer. Click here to learn more.


How will campers get to and from Camp?

  • Buses will be provided for campers to and from the Bay Area and Camp. We are also offering a bus from Camp to Los Angeles at the end of Session A and B.
  • Families have the option to drive their child(ren) to/from Camp if they prefer.

My family lives outside of the Bay Area. What protocols do you have in place and how can my child get to Camp?

In order to minimize the chance of exposure, we are asking all of our Session A, B, SCIT, TLI and Quest campers to stay home for 8 days before coming to Camp. If your child needs to fly to get to Tawonga, we require that your child completes their air travel ahead of this 8-day window and then quarantines in the Bay Area or another location within driving distance of Tawonga.

Southern California families will need to drive their kids to Camp. Tawonga will provide a bus at the end of Session A and Session B from Camp to Los Angeles for an additional $100 fee. Families will have the option to choose this bus for their child(ren) when filling out forms. More details to come.

Family Camp

Which Family Camp programs are being offered in 2021?

In 2021, we will be offering a COVID-safe version of our traditional Family Camps! Families will enjoy the many activities Tawonga has to offer like swimming, boating, arts and crafts, hiking, yoga, s’mores and more, while maintaining social distance from other households. Children ages three and up will be able to participate in day groups in the morning while adults have the opportunity to get a massage, do yoga, go on a hike, or attend a workshop. Parents can enjoy evening childcare for all ages once the children are asleep. Each family will have a private cabin and designated bathroom facility, and all meals will be served outside. We will be offering these four-day, three-night programs in August, September, and early October. Click here to see dates and rates.

How will Family Camp be adapted in light of COVID-19?

  • Cabin Assignments
    • Each family will be assigned to their own cabin. If you are already in a pod with another family and would like to share a cabin, please email shoshie@tawonga.org and let us know! 
  • Day Groups
    • We are thrilled to be able to offer morning childcare/day groups to kids ages three and older. The children will participate in activities outside and masked.
    • For those with little ones under three, we will have some fun baby/toddler and parent activities to enjoy!
    • We are sorry we are not able to provide childcare in the mornings for children under three. This is due to masking, distancing and staffing constraints due to COVID-19. Please note that children under three pay a reduced price.
  • Meal Service
    • Families will enjoy delicious, nutritious Family Camp style meals in our outdoor dining pavilion! Each family will have their own table and lots of delicious options to enjoy.
  • Shmira (Nighttime Childcare/Babysitting)
    • After parents put children to sleep, parents can enjoy adult beverages and snacks while our loving Tawonga staff watch over sleeping children of all ages until 11pm! 
  • COVID Safety
    • We ask families to follow our ⅔ rule which is to always have two of these three things: masking, distancing, and/or outdoors. So you can be outside and distant and unmasked or outside and close and masked or inside and distant and masked.

Click here to learn more about our Family Camp programs.

Can I sign up with another family?

  • You can try to register for the same weekend with friends.  However, we can not guarantee you will get into the same weekend. We have limited spaces and want to make it fair for everyone.
  • Each family needs to register separately. The only exception to this rule is that additional adult family members that are in your pod, such as an uncle or grandparent, can be added to your registration. They will be housed in your cabin.
  • An au pair or nanny, that is in your pod, can be added to your registration. They will be housed in your cabin.

If you are attending the same weekend as friends, we ask all families to remain socially distant from other families while participating in our program (i.e. stay either six feet apart or masked, and outside at all times). These policies are in place to keep our community as safe as possible.

Will childcare be available?

  • We are thrilled to be able to offer morning day groups for kids ages three and older. The children will participate in activities outside and masked. For those with little ones under three, we will have some fun baby/toddler and parent activities to enjoy! Due to masking, distancing and staffing constraints as a result of COVID-19, we are unfortunately not able to safely provide childcare in the mornings for children under three. Please note that children under three pay a reduced price. Parents can enjoy evening childcare for all ages once the children are asleep.

Are you offering a Family Camp program in the Spring?

We are not planning to offer Family Camp this spring. We want to give our full attention to launching the summer season as safely as possible.

For new families interested in checking out Tawonga before sending your child to Camp, we recommend joining a Camp tour with one of our directors. Sign up here for a tour on May 15 or May 16.

Does my family need to get tested before coming to a Family Camp program?

Everyone who comes to Family Camp needs to either show proof of vaccination for COVID-19 or a negative test for COVID-19 within 72 hours of arriving at Camp. 

Financial Information

Cancellation policy

See our cancellation policy here.

Why did the program rates increase for 2021?

Summer camp tuition went up for 2021 because of the increased costs necessary to run longer programs. We have also incurred COVID-19 related expenses. In addition, non-COVID-19 related expenses are on the rise, including food, staffing, benefits, insurance and more. On a per-night basis, our 2021 tuition is actually less than our 2020 tuition.

For Families at Camp, we are serving a limited number of families in order to provide each family their own cabin, designated bathroom facility, and safe access to all our program areas. With fewer families, we need to charge slightly more in order to make these weekends financially viable.

Financial assistance

Tawonga is committed to ensuring your family can experience the magic of Camp! To apply for Tawonga financial assistance, first, register for a Tawonga program and indicate your interest in financial assistance by checking the “Financial Options” box and indicating how much assistance you intend to apply for. Learn more about financial assistance here. Please know we will do everything we can to make Camp affordable for your family.

Will Tawonga cover the costs of COVID-19 tests?

Families will be charged a $200 COVID fee to cover testing and other COVID-associated costs. The fee covers one test right before Camp starts as well as any tests while your child is at Camp.

Will you offer a full refund if Camp is canceled due to COVID-19, smoke or wildfires?

If we have to cancel a program before the first day of the session, we will provide an option for a complete refund.

If we have to cancel a program once it has begun, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to provide a refund or credit. We will do our best to provide a partial refund or credit if possible. By the time a session has started, most of the expenses to run that session have already been incurred.

Trip insurance

You are not required to purchase trip insurance. You may want to look into trip insurance options for your child/family’s trip to Camp – there are many options that can be found with a quick Google search. We cannot recommend or endorse a specific company or carrier. If you decide to pursue trip insurance for your child/family’s time at Camp, please read the policy carefully to have an understanding of what events are/are not covered under the insurance.

2020 Families

My child aged out of a program in 2020. Can they enroll in that same program for 2021?

If your child is interested in enrolling in the same program for 2021, we will absolutely make a grade exception. For example, if your child is now a 10th grader and they aged out of Session 3, they will have the option to attend Session A or B or apply for our Teen Leadership Institute (TLI) in 2021. This grade exception applies to all summer sessions, Quests and TLI.

Teens who will be graduating from high school by the summer of 2021 and who were unable to participate in the SCIT program in 2020, will not have the option for SCIT again, but we encourage them to apply to join our summer staff, provided they will be 18 years of age by June 13, 2021.

If I rolled over my tuition from 2020 as a credit toward 2021, is my child automatically registered for a 2021 program?

No. Even if you applied your tuition from 2020 as a credit toward 2021, you will need to register your child.

I chose to receive a full (or partial) credit toward a 2021 program – did that save my spot?

No. In order to make our process equitable for all 2020 families who were canceled from a program, we did not save spots.

Eliza Cohen sent reminder emails about credits in early November. Feel free to email eliza@tawonga.org with any questions.

For all families who were canceled from a 2020 program, a priority 2021 registration period was in place beginning on November 18.

I chose to receive a full (or partial) credit toward a 2021 program - what happens if I decide to not register my child(ren) or my child(ren) don’t get into a 2021 program?

We will not be rolling credits forward beyond 2021 – anyone who doesn’t get the opportunity to use their 2020 credit will be able to receive a full refund. Please email eliza@tawonga.org if you would like your credit refunded.

Will my 2020 financial assistance award carry over for 2021 programs?

Because our financial assistance pool of funds changes every year, we are not able to roll over your award from one year to the next. However, like always, we will do everything we can to make Camp affordable for your family.

I received a One Happy Camper grant in 2020. Will I be eligible for this again in 2021?

Yes. Because your child was unable to attend Camp Tawonga in 2020, you are still eligible for the grant for the summer of 2021. You will need to apply again. If you would like to confirm if you are receiving this award, please email Eliza Cohen at eliza@tawonga.org. Click here for more information.

Additional Questions?

Feel free to email info@tawonga.org or call us at 415.543.2267 to speak with a member of our year-round team. We’re happy to help!

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