Camp Tawonga

Outside the Bay Area
School-Aged, Preteens, Teens, Adults
300 participants
Editors' Notes: 

Located near Groveland, CA

Camp Tawonga runs summer programs for children entering grades 2 through 12. Our weekend programs are open to singles, couples, and families.

Parent Q&A

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  • Feedback about Camp Tawonga?

    (2 replies)

    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!

    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. 

  • Camp Tawonga family camp with a 3yo?

    (2 replies)

    We have friends that just told us about Camp Tawonga. We are considering going but wondering if going with a 3 year old child is not age appropriate. He is very clingy to us and not as independent as some toddlers. Has anyone had experience taking a very young toddler and how old and well trained are the counselors. Thanks ahead of time for you responses

    I've taken infants, toddlers and bigger kids to Tawonga for Family Camp.  All the staff is at least 18 years old and is  very well trained.  A three year old will have a blast!  I hope you get to go.

    We’ve been going since our older kid was an infant and love it. The counselors are wonderful, mature, and love babies. The camp is set up really nicely for young kids and I wouldn’t consider 3 that young. The biggest challenge for us has been that our little one, one was just 1 at the time, had a really hard time with separation last year, but he had a one to one counselor assigned to him who basically strollered him around until he fell asleep and then he woke up and she took him to do music, crafts, etc with his older brothers group of 3 year olds. Our older son thinks he owns the place! Last year our friends came for the first time and he was giving them tours!

Parent Reviews

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Camp Tawonga has "all gender cabins" for certain sessions. It's a Jewish camp near Yosemite. My non-binary teen went there before there were all gender cabins and felt very safe and supported. Some staff is trans or non-binary.  

You may want to check out the gender neutral cabin at Camp Tawonga. My kids have had wonderful experiences at Tawonga. 


If your child would like a specifically trans/non-binary kids' camp, just in case you don't know about it, Camp Aranu'Tiq is a camp in New Hampshire specifically for non-binary and trans kids up to age 13. Perhaps they would be a good resource to find other similar or inclusive camps.

More locally, Camp Tawonga is leading the way on this type of inclusion.  They have an all-gender cabin in at least one of their sessions.  It is a Jewish camp, but non-Jews are welcome and Jewish religion is not intense or expected (many of the Jewish kids are secular). My kids have gone there for years and it's a truly wonderful camp, extremely well-run, very fun, and holds the kids very well.  Their COVID practices sound very good too. They may be filled up for this summer, but perhaps they could recommend other camps that do well with this.  They may have room specifically in the all-gender cabin, so I would call their phone number to find out.  (Also feel free to ask the moderator to contact me about this camp.)

I've heard that Trackers is welcoming to non-binary kids, but I've just heard this second-hand.

Best of luck for a safe and affirming summer for your kid!

RE: Jewish Sleepaway Camp ()

Hello! I've heard wonderful things about Camp Tawonga from former counselors and campers. The camp is very welcoming, not super religious, and offers financial aid. Because the camp is right outside Yosemite, there's a big emphasis on the outdoors, with opportunities for backpacking and daily hikes. It sounds like a great place to spend a summer!

RE: Jewish Sleepaway Camp ()

My girls attended Camp Tawonga and really loved it. The cost is pretty comparable to the others and there are a number of financial aid options (as there are for all the Jewish camps, I think.) They have 1, 2, and 3 week sessions. A Taste of Camp (Session I) is a good way to start. It is only 5 days (Sun - Fri). If she's been away from home for a week or more already, you might want to do the 2 week session (Session II).

You can also get more info on ALL the Jewish camps at

Camp Tawonga runs a Bar/Bat Mitzvah program.  According to their web page, "By incorporating nature, community building, social justice, and experiential Jewish learning into our program, we ensure this important milestone is individualized and accessible for each and every child."  We recently attended a Bat Mitzvah of a girl who did the program, and the family "story" seems similar to what you describe.  It was a lovely and positive Bat Mitzvah, both for the guests and (as far as we could tell) the participants.  Their web page is:

Archived Q&A and Reviews

    Feb 2007

    Re: Berkeley Family Camp v. Camp It Up?
    I haven't heard anything about Berkeley Family Camp or Camp It Up, but I do know of a great LGBT Family Camp program. Camp Tawonga, a Jewish Summer Camp, offers a few different Family Camp Weekend and last year their LGBT one was great! Even if you are not Jewish it is a very welcoming environment, plus it's just outside Yosemite so there is the great location too. The weekend is called Keshet and this year it's over Labor Day Weekend, check it out at Hope this helps.... Kenna

    Jan 2003

    Re: Sleepaway camp for 10-year-old
    Camp Tawonga is a great sleepaway camp in the Sierra's, a few miles north of Groveland. It's a Jewish camp, but not terribly religious. My almost 12 year old son went for 2 weeks last year and will go for 3 weeks this year. The first thing he said to me when he got off the bus last year to come home was ''Next year I want to go for 3 weeks''. They have an office in SF.Good luck, June