Feedback about Camp Tawonga?
We’re considering Camp Tawonga for our kids and would love to hear feedback about it from the past few years. We’ve heard many wonderful things, and are particularly curious to hear if anyone has experiences they’re willing to share. (Is it all sunshine and rainbows?!) Also, what is the camper return rate and how cohesive / continuous does the camper group feel year to year? Our main other options are more traditional, full-summer, single-gender camps in the Midwest and Northeast, and we’re less familiar with Tawonga as an option. Thanks!
Apr 17, 2023
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Hi there. I am a longtime Tawonga parent and alumn. In fact I was the marketing director 15 years ago so I can speak very directly to your question. I'll answer as a parent of two campers, though, who are 10 and 13. They are NOT returning to the same cohesive bunk as last year - although some kids do that. My particular kids have not stayed in touch with their bunkmaters over the year (they don't have phones and for better or worse, they don't write letters!) Now, that is NOT everyone's experience. There are plenty of mega-cohesive units and even, historically, sessions! (It used to be that there was a CREW that always came 3rd session.) So I think that year by year cohesion thing is what you make of it.
I can share many many experiences from over the years but they all come down to this: this camp is VERY GOOD at building community. It is intensely intentionally designed to do so, unlike most camps which are activity driven. Tawonga will never win a medal for its activities. They come in 2nd, or even 3rd at this place which is about community first, and wilderness engagement and Jewish connection second. So if your kid wants to up their soccer game this is not the right camp. But it's a special place out of time and space to be who you are, to bask in Yosemite, to swim in a river, to make tight bonds and to sing your heart out. It's not traditional at all...for the better! And absolutely feel free to hit me up for more questions.
My daughter attended Camp Tawonga from age 8 or 9 until she aged out this year, and it was always the highlight of her year. She made amazing friends (yes, many of the kids go back for the same session each year, but new kids are welcomed as well), developed independence, and had the time of her life. The staff is great, and the directors are very communicative and run things very smoothly. I think it actually IS all the sunshine and rainbows you have heard it is. I guess the only downsides are that the facilities are a little rustic (but the kids don't seem to care), and my daughter thought the sessions were never long enough; she would happily have spent the whole summer there. She can't wait to go back as a staff member next year.