2023 Tawonga Program & COVID-19 FAQs
We hope the FAQs below help to answer your questions about Tawonga’s 2023 season. This page provides our best answers at this time. As COVID-19 is an ever-changing situation, please note that policies are subject to change. We will keep this page up to date and our Camp families closely informed.
Registration & Programs
Registration and program dates
- Priority registration opens November 8 for anyone who attended 2022 summer camp, teen programs, Adventure Quest, or B’nai Mitzvah Program participants (plus siblings), or Jewish Families of Color Weekend registered families.
- Early registration opens November 15 for families that were enrolled in a 2022 Family Camp or weekend program, and 2022 waitlisted and canceled families.
- Registration opens to the public on November 29.
Visit www.tawonga.org/dates-rates to view 2023 program dates.
My child doesn’t fit the age range for a program they’d like to attend, will you make an exception?
In very rare circumstances, we will allow a child to attend a program that is outside the designated grade range. Typically, these exceptions are made for children who repeated a grade or started school a year later than their peers, making them the same age as the majority of the other cabins with whom they’d be bunked. Because our cabins often include a combination of two grades, we want to ensure that campers are at similar developmental levels. It is rare that we would allow three grades within one bunk. If we find that there is sufficient demand for campers outside the designated grade range and there is space available in the program in late winter/early spring, we may allow a group of campers to have an exception. Otherwise, our staff will work with you to find a second choice program that has a grade range that includes your camper.
Can I register and have my child leave the session early?
Generally speaking, no. Because our programs are group-centered and our bunk community is central to the Tawonga experience, it’s important that campers start and end the program together. We do not allow campers to enroll for three week programs who only want to stay for two weeks. However, if you have an extenuating circumstance within the first or last 24 hours of camp, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will allow campers to leave early from Session 4 to accommodate early school start dates.
In 2023 we are pleased to offer all-gender cabins for rising 7th through 10th graders during Session 2 (June 18-July 7) and for rising 9th-10th graders during Session 3 (July 9-28). If there is sufficient interest in other sessions or amongst other age groups, we will consider adding additional all-gender cabins as well. We have found that there is a lot of interest in all-gender cabins for the older campers and currently not enough demand to warrant offering all-gender cabins for rising 2nd through 6th graders. However, ALL of our counselors are trained on how to create a safe and welcoming space for campers of all genders in EVERY cabin.
If you are interested or have any questions, please email email@example.com.
Click here to learn more.
Teen Leadership Institute
Teen Leadership Institute (TLI) is a bridge between the traditional Tawonga camper experience and 12th grade staff in-training program. This unique program will enable teens to take the Tawonga mission on the road and then return to Camp to give back as leaders.
Participants in TLI will fly together to Portland, Oregon and will engage in leadership development, community building, and adventures as they travel from Portland to the Eastern Sierras and then to Tawonga. For more information about the program, click here.
General Summer Camp Questions
Why did you change the Camp schedule from previous years?
In the past five years, we have seen a significant increase in demand for three week programs. Additionally, we have found that high school-aged campers often need to return to school earlier than other students due to sports, leadership, and orientation. In order to simultaneously meet our community’s demands for more three week programs and to maximize the number of campers we can accommodate at Camp, we will offer two identical 3-week programs, two 2-week programs, our weeklong Taste of Camp, two teen leadership programs, multiple Adventure Quests and a wonderful lineup of adult and family weekends. Learn more about 2023 program offerings here.
Are Tawonga staff prepared to work with my child’s needs?
Yes! We carefully train our staff to meet your child’s social, emotional, recreational and physical needs. Each session, a total of nearly 200 counselors, supervisors, specialists and support staff serve 300 children — a staff to camper ratio that ensures excellent, dedicated care. The minimum certification for any Tawonga staff member working with children is CPR and First Aid, and Wilderness Leaders are certified as Wilderness First Responders. We know how to treat each child as a precious individual, and, at the same time, facilitate the kind of immersive group living and bonding experiences for which Tawonga is renowned.
If you have any questions about specific accommodations that your child might need, you may call our office at 415.543.2267 and speak with Shoshie Flagg, Co-Associate Director of Community Engagement.
My kid is nervous about going to Camp, do you have any advice?
This is common! Click here for seven tips to prepare your child for Camp.
Join an orientation session in the spring for parents to learn more about what to expect and get questions answered.
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 meet-ups. If you would like to set up a playdate before then, email firstname.lastname@example.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 over Memorial Day Weekend, offered May 28, 2023. Click here or email email@example.com to sign up.
If you have further concerns and want to brainstorm ways to prepare your child for Camp, email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a call with a director. We’re happy to help!
Having cold feet and considering canceling?
Before making the decision to cancel your child’s registration, please call us! We see our role as a partnership with you and want to ensure we provide you the support you need to navigate feelings of nervousness. It is normal for children to feel mildly anxious or apprehensive about Camp, especially if they’re going away for the first time (though we know that even seasoned campers have these feelings from time to time). We’d love to make a plan with you to avoid your child missing out on a transformative camping experience, if possible!
Each child develops at their own pace, and we know that for some campers bed wetting can be a challenge. We handle bedwetting sensitively and confidentially, with an individualized proactive plan that allows campers to feel comfortable while at Camp. Typically, we implement a plan that includes having an extra sleeping bag in a cabin for sporadic bedwetting, and a pull-up plan for campers who wet the bed nightly. If your child needs a bed wetting plan to be put into place, please call our office at 415.543.2267 and speak with a director.
My child has never been to Camp and doesn’t know anyone. Is this typical?
Yes! Every session has a mix of new and returning campers. Tawonga has built its reputation as a warm, welcoming place for every child by paying careful attention to the emotional experience of each camper. We create a non-competitive environment in which there is no hierarchy between kids. Our group-centered philosophy brings kids of diverse experiences and backgrounds together and facilitates deep and lasting friendships. Remember, everyone has a first summer at camp.
I’m worried my child will be homesick. How will you handle this?
Our counselors are experts at helping children make friends right away and adjust to life at Camp. They facilitate partner activities, group games, sharing activities and provide lots of 1:1 support to help children make friends and feel comfortable at Camp. When children miss home, our counselors will listen empathically and then encourage them to get involved in cabin activities because having fun and making friends are the best remedies for missing home. Our staff members pay attention to your child’s emotional adjustment to Camp and are trained to provide appropriate support through that process. If needed, your child’s bunk counselor will get additional help from Unit Heads, Camp Therapist and Directors. If your child is missing home intensely we will reach out to you to brainstorm together the best ways to support them. We are ready!
How do I know which program is best for my child?
Each of our programs is grounded in our deep-rooted traditions and mission-based philosophy. Sessions at our Yosemite location offer the quintessential “camp” experience, including hiking, swimming, boating, campfires, sing-alongs and arts and crafts in a group-centered environment. Our Adventure Quests take Camp on the road for the ultimate adventure-based road trip.
Whether your child attends a week of summer camp or three weeks on an Adventure Quest, our staff will provide a safe environment for campers to feel great about themselves while deepening their independence, exploring Judaism in a beautiful, natural setting and developing a sense of belonging in our warm, inclusive community.
Typically, the best indicator of how much time away is appropriate is the child; a desire to go away to camp is an excellent place to start. For some, sleepovers and time away from home is still new, and one or two weeks can be a good start. For others with more comfort and/or experience being away, or for those with a heightened sense of adventure, programs lasting two weeks or longer will be a good fit.
Remember that it’s normal for campers (and their parents!) to feel nervous about being away from home, and this is a natural part of the overall camp experience.To discuss your child’s particular needs, please call our office to speak with a director. We’re happy to help!
Information sessions and orientations
Click here for more information and to RSVP for upcoming information sessions and orientations. Further dates and details about orientations will be provided in the spring.
Can parents visit Camp?
Yes, you can bring your whole family up for a weekend program at Tawonga to meet our wonderful staff, see our beautiful property and get a taste of the Tawonga experience. Or, you can sign up for a tour of Camp with one of our directors during Memorial Day Weekend on May 28, 2023. However, we do not allow family members to visit campers while they are attending a session. This would interfere with you and your child making a healthy separation, which is a big part of the way kids gain confidence, independence and maturity at Camp.
Judaism at Camp
Judaism is infused into daily life at Camp, from the Hebrew blessings we sing at every meal to the mindful way that we treat each other, rooted in Jewish values, to rich Shabbat celebrations. Your child’s Jewish experience will come through exploring Jewish values, customs and traditions. The approach to the Jewish experience at Tawonga is a joyful blend of culture, ritual, inclusion and inviting campers to experience spiritual and Jewish moments that resonate personally with them.
Tawonga campers include kids who are highly affiliated with their Jewish communities (through synagogue, JCC, or day school), kids for whom Tawonga is their primary Jewish experience, kids from interfaith families and kids who are not Jewish. They all share great Jewish experiences because we offer – and never force – a positive, fun, inspirational and uplifting “buffet” of Jewish experiences.
Shabbat is a highlight at Camp during our 2+ week programs, starting with a delicious Friday night dinner followed by joyful singing and dancing. Kabbalat Shabbat and Saturday morning Torah services are held outdoors against the gorgeous backdrop of tall trees, blue skies and the Tuolumne River. Your child will come home with a new appreciation for the beauty of our Jewish heritage and a deepened sense of pride in their own identity.
Whether your family attends synagogue regularly or never at all, Tawonga is a warm and welcoming Jewish home for your child. You can learn more about Tawonga’s approach to Judaism and spirituality here.
Our meals are served family-style and are nut-free and kosher style. Our Alternative Foods kitchen ensures we have vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available at every meal and are able to accommodate a variety of food allergies. Our food is prepared fresh on-site and is both delicious and nutritious. In addition to our main meal, we always have options available for picky eaters like hot and cold cereal at breakfast, a sandwich and salad bar at lunch and dinner, plain pasta, string cheese, and other kid favorites. We will work with your child to ensure even the pickiest eaters never go hungry and there is always something they like to eat available to them at each meal.
Learn more about food and nutrition at Camp here.
Click here to see an example of a typical day at Camp this summer.
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.
Birthdays at Camp are very special. Our counselors will spend the day giving the camper opportunities to be celebrated, culminating with a community-wide birthday “schtick” and singing of Happy Birthday. Please note that we are only able to celebrate birthdays that occur during the session your child is attending. Check out this blog post about birthdays at Tawonga to learn more.
Packing lists will be emailed out in the months and weeks leading up to the session. If you’re eager to get started early, click here for packing lists and other helpful resources!
Laundry: Laundry is done once during two week programs and twice during three week or longer programs. Laundry will NOT be done during the one-week session, except in extenuating circumstances.
Bedding: Each cabin contains twin-sized bunk beds with thin mattresses. We recommend your child bring a fitted twin-sized sheet, top sheet, and sleeping bag to Camp (rated at 20 degrees or below), as well as a pillow and pillow case. Some campers choose to bring a heavy blanket to use in the cabin and save their sleeping bag for the overnight trip (for sessions that are two or more weeks).
Luggage: We recommend you pack two mid-sized duffel bags, one that contains the camper’s clothing items and one that contains bedding, towels, etc. to make the unpacking process easier. Space inside the cabins is tight, and we do not recommend hard-sided trunks. Each camper has two small shelves in cabin cubby storage systems, as well as space underneath the twin-sized bunk beds (roughly 16” x 75”, shared by two children).
We will email registered families specific instructions for addressing snail mail letters to Camp, including the physical address. Children love receiving letters from home while at Tawonga, and it is essential that your child receive letters from you. Please write as soon as your child leaves for their session (or in the few days leading up to their departure) and continue writing one to three times each week. Please do not send mail in the last three days of any program, since it will not arrive in time for your child to receive it. We encourage campers to write regularly — though, not hearing from a camper often means that they are too busy having fun to write!
Tawonga does not allow care packages. Believe it or not, an old-fashioned letter is often the most treasured gift received by children in the Camp setting. We encourage you to write letters to your child frequently, taking into account that it can take three to five days for mail to arrive in a bunk’s mailbox (from the Bay Area).
Tawonga also utilizes a one-way email system for parents and loved ones to send messages to campers. Emails are sent using electronic “CampStamps,” which are available for purchase within your CampInTouch account. These messages can be sent through your CampInTouch account (where you register and complete camper forms) or through the Campanion app. More details will be shared with enrolled families in the weeks leading up to the session.
Summer camp updates & photos
During your child’s summer camp session, you will have the opportunity to follow along and catch a glimpse of their Tawonga experience through photos posted in your CampInTouch account and Campanion app as well as through blog posts on Tawonga’s website. The goal of these touch points is to provide some assurance and comfort that your child is safe and having a good experience, to help you better understand how your child is spending their time at Camp, and lastly, to offer a peek into the Tawonga magic and our mission in action.
Over 300 campers attend each session, and we only have one summer blogger/photographer to capture it all. Our intention with the photos and the blog is to capture authentic Tawonga moments while still providing an unplugged, immersive experience for campers. We are only able to guarantee that you’ll see two pictures of your child per week – and one of those instances will be in a group bunk photo. It’s possible you’ll see more photos of them, but we appreciate your understanding of these intentional expectations.
Due to the nature and structure of Adventure Quests, we will not post Quest content on Campanion or CampInTouch. Instead, Quest families will receive an email following the Quest program with a link to an album of photos. Following some Quests, we will post Quest content on Tawonga’s blog, in which case those Quest families will receive a link to the blog via email.
Health & Safety at Camp
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 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 completed in 2021 with upgraded amenities to better meet our campers’ health needs. This facility includes numerous isolation rooms to use as needed. We also have additional spaces available for isolation if necessary.
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 seven 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 a 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.
In addition, Tawonga has undergrounded all of our PG&E electrical wires.
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. Otherwise, no news is good news! You are welcome to reach out to us for an update on how your child is doing by contacting us at email@example.com or calling our San Francisco office at 415.543.2267. We will respond to all inquiries within 24 hours during normal business hours. You are also welcome to follow the blog for updates from Tawonga – subscribe here.
Health & Safety: COVID-19
COVID related details for the 2023 season will be finalized in the spring. See below for details about our 2022 season:
Vaccine & booster mandates
COVID related details for the 2023 season will be finalized in the spring. See below for details about our 2022 season:
Vaccination and booster requirements
- All Tawonga staff are required to be fully vaccinated and boosted.
- We are requiring all campers to be up to date on their vaccinations. This includes anyone 5+ to have completed the primary series of the COVID-19 vaccination and those 12+ who are eligible to be boosted. Tawonga strongly encourages all children 5-11 who are eligible to get the booster, and all children 6 months to 5 years to get the primary series. Please upload proof of vaccination in your Campanion app or your CampInTouch account asap if you have not already.
My child was already boosted. Does this mean they need to get a fourth shot (or 2nd booster)?
- If a fourth shot is available by the time our summer season starts, we will be recommending those who are eligible to get one; however, a fourth shot (or 2nd booster) will not be required for the 2022 season.
Why did Tawonga decide to require the booster shot?
- Tawonga, and our Task Force, was informed by national health protocol recommendations and scientific research. The CDC now recommends that everyone 5+ receives a COVID-19 booster shot at least 5 months after completing the initial vaccine series. Recent CDC studies have shown that a booster shot restores protection from hospitalization due to the Omicron variant to 90% (up from 57% protection without the booster). The research also shows the booster shot resulting in less adverse reactions in young people than prior doses. Our team is aware of the back-and-forth nature of the debate for the booster in young people, but the scientific community has now made it clear that the booster is the recommended course.
Religious or medical exemption
- Families can use this form to submit an exemption request. All medical exemption requests must be submitted thirty (30) days prior to the program start date and will be reviewed by a panel of three physicians from our COVID Task Force as well as a Tawonga director. There’s a place to attach any supporting documents, such as a letter from a physician. We will treat any materials submitted with sensitivity and confidentiality. Once a request is submitted, it may take up to two weeks for our volunteer physicians to review, at which time we will follow up.
How does Tawonga make decisions related to health and safety and COVID-19?
We work closely with a COVID-19 Task Force (comprised of doctors, epidemiologists, and healthcare professionals), which advises us on how to safely run our programs. Due to the nature of Tawonga’s communal living environment (where campers sleep inside a cabin together), the Task Force tends to recommend more cautious protocols than a non-communal environment might require.
Our operating plan focuses on developing protocols that include pre-camp screening and testing, onsite screening and testing, cohort/podding in small groups, and programmatic adaptations in an effort to mitigate spread, and best create a system that allows us to handle any cases should one appear. We are utilizing a multi-layered approach aligned with best practices to keep our camp community safe and healthy this summer.
COVID related details for the 2023 season will be finalized in the spring. See below for details about our 2022 season:
Guidelines may change leading up to Camp, based on COVID prevalence and trend, as advised by our COVID Task Force.
Due to the nature of Tawonga’s communal living environment (where campers sleep inside a cabin together) and the potential for the spread of communicable disease within our close community, we have established the following guidelines with the intent of maintaining a COVID-free environment again this season:
Pre-Camp Testing Requirements
Required PCR Tests: Campers are required to get a PCR test within 72 hours of their Tawonga program. We recommend families explore testing options like Curative, Color and CityHealth, which all provide results within about 48 hours (please confirm with the provider as turnaround times can fluctuate). Please note, Tawonga will not be mailing at-home test kits. Families are required to show proof of a negative test result upon check in. We will not accept at-home antigen tests. The test must be a PCR that is performed in a lab.
Required Rapid Antigen Tests: In addition to the pre-Camp PCR test, campers must also take an at-home rapid antigen test the morning of Camp. Please snap a photo and bring it with you to the bus along with proof of your child’s negative PCR.
Positive COVID Case Before the Session: If your child tests positive for COVID-19 in the eight weeks leading up to their session, they should not take a pre-Camp PCR test because it could result in a false positive. If your child has had COVID-19 in the eight weeks leading up to their session please fill out this form and take an at-home rapid antigen test the morning of Camp.
Pre-Camp Activity Restrictions
We ask campers and their families to always mask (N-95, KN-95, or KF-94) when indoors with people outside of their household and follow the two out of three (2/3) rule for the seven days before arriving at Camp.
|The 2/3 rule: When interacting with people from another household, you must always follow two of these three behaviors: masked, outdoors, socially distanced.|
- School – children may attend school. They must remain masked indoors, even if their school guidelines permit not being masked.
- Air Travel with restrictions – must wear N95 or KN95 for entirety of travel (airport and flight) minus water and quick snacks, as needed
- Day Camps that follow CDC and California Department of Public Health guidelines – camper must remained masked indoors; preference for outdoor camps where all campers and staff are masked when they need to go indoors
- Overnight Camps – camp must have a COVID risk reduction safety plan like masking, podding or testing
Examples of what is NOT allowed for campers and their families
- Indoor unmasked activities with people from another household
- Indoor Dining at restaurants
- Any activity where campers and their household members cannot maintain 2 out of 3: masked, outdoors and distant with people from other households
- Large group gatherings such as weddings, bar, bat, or b’nai mitzvot and graduations if you cannot follow the 2 out of 3 rule (you can attend an outdoor graduation as long as you are masked when you’re near others, and you could attend an indoor wedding as long as you are masked and distanced from others)
Illness can spread quickly at Camp. Please only send campers to Camp if they are healthy. If they have any illness, COVID related or not, or have any known exposure to COVID within seven days of your arrival date, please email firstname.lastname@example.org before coming to Camp.
Click here for a PDF with the above pre-Camp guidelines.
- In order to contain possible exposure and spread of COVID-19, we may require face masks that cover both the nose and mouth when campers and staff are interacting with people from other bunks (one cabin including 12 campers and 2-3 staff).
- Masks will not be required when campers and staff are located inside their own cabins and when they are outdoors and more than six feet apart from any other bunk.
- Campers should bring N-95, KN-95 or KF-94 masks with them to Camp, as noted on their session packing list.
COVID-19 symptoms and positive tests at Camp
- All medical staff are 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.
- We will follow the recommendations of the COVID task force as to when additional testing will be necessary.
Who will be entering Camp this summer beyond campers and staff?
Any visitors coming to Camp must be vaccinated, take a COVID test and pass a health screening. All vendors will be masked and away from children and staff.
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.
COVID-19 Program Adjustments
We’re so excited for the season ahead and are planning activities to make this summer incredible! COVID program adjustments will be determined within two weeks of the session starting, based on COVID prevalence and direction from our COVID Task Force. For the first week of each session, campers may do all activities with their cabin group and 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 be offered. 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.
Click here to see an example of a typical day at Camp this summer!
In order to promote safety, our food service will follow best practices for operating during COVID-19. This may include outdoor dining, as it did in 2021 and 2022. All our staff are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. We’ll provide more details as the summer approaches.
Song session will take place outside so there’s plenty of space to sing and dance! Campers and staff will be required to wear masks during this time when they’re unable to be more than 6 feet away from other bunks. As the summer progresses, if everyone tests negative for COVID-19 we may be able to move song sessions back indoors.
If needed, cabins will have assigned times to shower so that they can be indoors without masks and without possible exposure to other campers. All campers will wear masks when they are using the bathhouse (unless they are showering). We will have many outdoor sink areas for hand washing and teeth brushing by cabin.
If it is raining and activities need to be moved indoors, campers and staff will wear masks and stay distanced from other pods. Masks are not needed if the group is inside of their own cabin.
Backpacking & day hikes
A Taste of Camp campers go on a day hike in Yosemite National Park or Stanislaus National Forest, led by our highly trained and certified wilderness leaders. Session 2, 3 and 4 campers participate in a backpacking trip into Stanislaus National Forest or Yosemite National Park, also led by our wilderness leaders. Campers will wear a mask if they need to go indoors at any point on the trips, for example to use a bathroom at the trailhead.
Mental/emotional health support and programming
After years of dealing with COVID-19, social isolation and increased mental health challenges, we know that children will benefit from a camp experience more than ever, and we are prepared and ready to support campers along the way. Our counselors go through a one week training which prepares them to handle situations that may arise. Therapists will lead extra mental health trainings for counselors during this time. In addition, we have a team of inclusion counselors, unit heads, directors and therapists that are ready to support as needed.
Some children will meet with a Camp therapist during their stay at Camp if we think it will help them have a more positive experience. If your child is currently seeing a therapist, please fill out the Consent to Release Confidential Information form located in your CampInTouch account or Campanion app. If you have any questions regarding the Camp therapists or other mental health supports available at Camp, please contact the San Francisco office before your child’s program begins.
We are committed to creating a physically and emotionally safe Camp experience for your child(ren) this summer!
Do you have backup staff in place to take over if needed?
Yes! We have hired additional specialists and counselors for this summer.
How will campers get to and from Camp?
Families have a few options for getting campers to and from Camp depending on their enrolled program. Options include charter buses, driving to/from Camp with family or carpooling with another family attending the same session.
For our one week Taste of Camp program, families should drop their camper at Tawonga or arrange a carpool. We will send a roster a couple months before the program to help you arrange carpools.
For our at-Camp programs that are two weeks or longer, we provide a chartered bus service beginning in Oakland. Campers travel with other children around their same age to Camp while staff on the bus help them feel more comfortable by singing songs, playing games and facilitating friendships.
Chartered bus service back to the Bay Area is also provided at the end of each at-Camp summer program including the one week program. We are also occasionally able to add a charter bus to and from Los Angeles depending on the number of enrolled campers from Southern California.
Why did you decide not to offer bus transportation to A Taste of Camp?
For our youngest and often newest campers, we want to ensure that their program starts successfully! For many young campers, the bus ride adds anxiety about who to sit with, anticipation of what to expect upon arrival, and potentially challenging separation from parents and loved ones. In order to best set up our Taste of Camp campers for success, we are piloting a new arrival system where campers will be driven to camp by their families. This allows the healthy separation to begin on our site with less built up anxiety and anticipation. Families are encouraged to carpool as needed.
We will provide an option for bus transportation back to the Bay Area after the session.
Is air travel prior to the session allowed?
Yes, air travel is allowed the week prior to the session as long as the following is true; the camper and everyone they are flying with:
- Are fully vaccinated and boosted, if eligible
- Wear N-95 or KN-95 masks the whole time they are in the airport and on the airplane (very quick snack and water breaks are okay)
- Follow our other COVID protocols the week leading up to Camp
- Practice good hygiene like hand washing
SoCal Families: We may be able to add a charter bus to and from Los Angeles depending on the number of enrolled campers in a session from Southern California.
We are thrilled to offer family camps and weekend programs in the spring, late summer and fall of 2023! All our programs follow safety precautions for COVID-19 which are dependent on state and local guidelines. Our policies and practices will relax or tighten based on the COVID-19 landscape.
Family Camp offerings
In 2023, we will be offering eight Family Camp weekends! Our weekend family programs are designed to combine all the best parts of a summer session at Tawonga into an extended three or four day weekend for the whole family! We welcome infants through grandparents for a unique blend of classic Camp activities, campfires, song sessions, a festive Shabbat celebration, family bonding and fun! Click here to see dates and rates.
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, such as an uncle or grandparent, can be added to your registration. They will be housed in your cabin.
An au pair or nanny can be added to your registration. They will be housed in your cabin.
Are you offering a Family Camp program in the spring?
Yes! We are thrilled to offer Family Camp 1 over Memorial Day Weekend (May 26-29, 2023). This is our kick-off weekend to our entire programmatic season.
For new families interested in checking out Tawonga before sending your child to Camp, we recommend joining an at-Camp tour during Memorial Day Weekend, offered on May 28, 2023. Click here or email email@example.com to sign up.
NEW Cancellation policies for 2023
Based on feedback from our community and our research of best practices in the summer camp industry, we’ve updated our cancellation policies to be more flexible with programming dates – all deadlines are now based on a certain number of days before the start of a program. This change creates a more clear and equitable experience for our participants that is adaptable to our ongoing programmatic calendar.
We know that Camp is a financial commitment and trip insurance is a great way to mitigate financial risk for families who want that extra layer of protection. To receive the full benefit of the insurance and to ensure you are covered for as many possible coverages within the policy, most plans require that you purchase the insurance within 15 days of making your first payment. In the case of Camp Tawonga, your first payment is your deposit.
It is important to read trip insurance policies before purchasing them; many do include COVID-19 and other medical coverage. It is also critically important to review the policy exclusions to make sure you understand what the policy does not cover. Camp Tawonga is not offering or endorsing specific policies. Below are some websites that offer comparisons of the wide range of trip insurance products:
We know the cost of Tawonga’s programs might feel intimidating, and we are committed to ensuring that participating in our programs is an option for all individuals and families, regardless of financial constraints. Our financial assistance program helps ensure that campers, adults and families from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds and circumstances can experience the transformative Tawonga mission.
We offer a wide range of need-based assistance and need-blind grants, as well interest-free payment plans. In 2022, nearly 30% of all Tawonga program participants received financial assistance. We encourage anyone, regardless of their income, to apply for financial assistance if the cost of Camp feels out of reach this year. Read our new Demystifying Financial Assistance Guide and learn more about our financial assistance program here.
Does applying for financial assistance affect my chances of getting into Camp?
No! Our financial assistance process is kept entirely confidential and separate from the randomized registration mechanism. We encourage anyone, regardless of their income, to apply for financial assistance if the cost of Camp feels out of reach this year. Families who participate in Tawonga’s financial assistance program will have 14 days from the date of their final award to accept the award or cancel and be eligible for a full refund, less the non-refundable deposit.
We know this is a lot of information to take in, and we are here to support you! Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 415.543.2267 to speak with a member of our year-round team. We’re happy to help!
Enrolled families will also be invited to join an orientation to meet with Tawonga directors and ask your specific questions. More details about these orientation sessions will be provided in the spring, and when available, this information will be on our website here.