Camp Tawonga is a 160-acre residential Jewish summer camp located on the middle fork of the Tuolumne River, a few miles west of Yosemite National Park, in the Stanislaus National Forest. The camp operates as a non-profit organization and is affiliated with the Jewish Community Center Association. The camp is located in Groveland, California, although the nearest town is actually a tiny area called Buck Meadows. Tawonga has with offices in San Francisco. Many attendees come from the San Francisco Bay Area, but attendees from Israel and other states are present often.
Camp Tawonga was established by Louis and Emma Blumenthal in 1925 and was originally established in 1928 as separate camps known as Camp Kelowa for Boys, and Singing Trail for Girls at Huntington Lake just below the alpine level at 7,000 feet, located in the High Sierras, 65 miles Northeast of Fresno, and closed for several years during the Second World War. Camp Tawonga moved to its current site on the middle fork of the Tuolumne River in 1963. During 2003-2007, Camp Tawonga ran the Oseh Shalom-Sanea al Salam—the Palestinian-Jewish Family Peacemakers Camp—in cooperation with the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue. On July 3, 2013, a tree fell at the camp, killing an Arts and Crafts specialist and injuring several others as terrified campers were evacuated to the girl's side field. In August 2013, the camp was in the path of the Rim Fire. After the camp was evacuated, a person returned to the camp to rescue a Torah scroll which had previously survived the Holocaust. The camp lost three buildings to the fire; other damage was described as repairable and is now rebuilt. Late 2015, Camp Tawonga announced a director transfer. Ken Kramarz, the former Executive Director, is moving into Tawonga's future. Jamie Simon, the former Camp Director, has assumed Kramarz's position. Former Assistant Director, Becca Meyer, has taken on a new role as Camp Director.
Camp Tawonga's capacity is about 250 attendees at one time during the summer, with about 2,000 attendees and staff participating each year. There are around 30 rustic-style cabins without electricity, running water, and heating, used for campers in the summer. There are around 20 heated or powered cabins that are used for other guests. There is a lodge-style dining hall equipped with a Kosher kitchen and back porch overlooking a canoeing lake. An Arts-and-Crafts shed, Olympic sized swimming pool, team building ropes course, and outdoor amphitheater are just some of Tawonga's many on-site buildings.
- Steve Almond has written about his experiences at the camp in his works, including (Not That You Asked) Rants, Exploits and Obsessions.
A Visit to Camp Kelowa and Singing Trail - Original film was produced by Louis and Emma Blumenthal to provide a glimpse of life at both Camp Kelowa and Camp Singing Trail in 1936. fully difgitized and found at Internet Archive https://archive.org/details/cbm_00002 https://archive.org/details/cbm_000010
- [Terror in the Holy Land: Inside the Anguish of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Judith Kuriansky, editor. Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 2006, p. 260]
- "Death, Injuries After Tree Falls at Camp Tawonga Near Yosemite". KNTV. NBCUniversal. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
- "Rim Fire burns three buildings at Camp Tawonga". J Weekly. August 29, 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
- Camp Tawonga Keshet at the Keshet.org website
- Keshet Family Camp at the Hebrew Union College website Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
- Which Brings Me to You: A Novel Of Confessions, Steve Almond and Julianna Baggott. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2006, p. 131