Camp Tawonga

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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 its main office in San Francisco.[1] Many attendees come from the San Francisco Bay Area,[citation needed] but attendees from Israel, Los Angeles, and other states are often present as well.


Camp Tawonga was established by Louis and Emma Blumenthal in 1925[2] 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.[3] 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 girls' side field.[4][5] 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.[6] The camp lost three buildings to the fire; other damage was described as repairable and is now rebuilt.[7] Late 2015, Camp Tawonga announced a director transfer. Ken Kramarz, the former Executive Director, moved into Tawonga's future. Jamie Simon, the former Camp Director, assumed Kramarz's position. Former Assistant Director, Becca Meyer, took on a new role as Camp Director. On July 31, 2018, just two days into the last summer session of the year, all of Camp Tawonga evacuated due to dangerous air quality caused by the local Ferguson Fire and the firefighters' "back burning" techniques. [8]


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 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.

Among its programs are a LGBTQ family weekend (Camp Keshet),[9][10] the only such program in the country.

Cultural references[edit]

See also[edit]

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


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-07-04. Retrieved 2013-07-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [Terror in the Holy Land: Inside the Anguish of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Judith Kuriansky, editor. Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 2006, p. 260]
  4. ^ "Death, Injuries After Tree Falls at Camp Tawonga Near Yosemite". KNTV. NBCUniversal. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ "Rim Fire burns three buildings at Camp Tawonga". J Weekly. August 29, 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  8. ^ "Smoke-filled air forces Camp Tawonga to evacuate". J. 2018-07-31. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  9. ^ Camp Tawonga Keshet at the website Archived 2013-07-04 at
  10. ^ Keshet Family Camp at the Hebrew Union College website Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Which Brings Me to You: A Novel Of Confessions, Steve Almond and Julianna Baggott. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2006, p. 131

External links[edit]