Ginger's Tuolumne Tips

See also: Ginger's Tuolumne Packing List ... Reviews of Camp Tuolumne

August 2022 (updated Feb 2023)

I've been going to Berkeley Tuolumne Camp since the 1980's. This year (2022) was the 100th Anniversary of BTC! The camp has been completely rebuilt after being closed for a few years following a devastating fire. See other campers' reviews from Summer 2022 on BPN's Camp Tuolumne profile page.  Here are my tips for the new camp, and my previous tips are after that, for historical purposes!

Main tip

FOBTC (Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp) is a nonprofit group of BTC alumni and fans that maintains an informative website, sends out newsletters with timely information, and raises funds to supplement the camp's upkeep and enhancements. I recommend subscribing to their newsletter (they have a social media presence also) to stay up to date on enrollment times and news about BTC. You will usually get better and more timely information via FOBTC than from the City of Berkeley. Send them a donation if you have the means! 

Reserving your spot

If you're coordinating with friends and relatives, planning should take place in January.  Get on FOBTC's mailing list for the best and most timely information. In 2022, FOBTC emailed a notice in January about registration dates with the City of Berkeley, which began in early February.  Registration is online (view form - click "Camps" at the top). This form was somewhat awkward and required reading and re-reading to understand how it worked, but it did work, and no phone calls or in-person visits required.

Caution! It was very difficult to get information from the city about camp other than the info on their online registration page. Between February, when our registration was confirmed, and late July, a week before our arrival, there was no communication from the city at all about camp logistics, and virtually no information on the city's website either. Emails to the camps office were not answered and phone numbers were hard to find. I relied on a couple of facebook groups where people were posting about their recent stays, as well as a discussion on BPN. But once the ball started rolling in late July it was very organized.

Sessions and cost

When it reopened in 2022,  BTC introduced the concept of "sessions", which I think is much more organized than the previous pick-any-random-day system. Sessions are either 3 nights or 6 nights. The 3-night sessions are either at the beginning or end of the week. This new system leaves the camp free of campers every Sunday night for thorough cleaning. Camp sessions run from mid-June to mid-August:

Rates for Summer 2023 2022 

  1. Full week (arr Monday - dep Sunday)  $2195  $1995
  2. Mid-week (arr Monday - dep Thursday) $1430  $1300 (in 2022 it was discounted to $833 for under-enrolled sessions)
  3. Weekend (arr Thursday - dep Sunday)  $1664

What's included: A tent cabin for up to 3 people including three hot meals a day.  Not sure if "3 people" includes babies. Note in 2022 the price included up to 4 people in a cabin.

Add-ons: You can pay extra for additional people in the cabin, up to 6 people in a cabin.  In 2023 each add-on is $270 (3 nights) or $540 (week). There is also a daily rate for add-ons who don't stay the entire session, no price on that as of Feb 2023.

Which session?  For my family, 3 nights is about right. There are also many families that like the full week, and I've known single retired people who liked to spend multiple weeks at camp. If you want to be at camp for table night, the staff show, and the dance (Th-Fr-Sa), choose the weekend or the full week.  Mid-week M-Th is good for introverts, because it's typically less crowded and there are no big noisy all-camp events.  In 2022, there was a discount for mid-week at less popular times of the summer. There are also special weeks such as over-50 after school starts back, a new Teen week, and Work Weekend.

When to go?  Earlier in the summer is the most popular time, especially around July 4. Nights are cool so pack accordingly. There are more mosquitos in June and early to mid July when the ground and vegetation are still moist, so bring mosquito nets and mosquito spray (real mosquito spray, not home remedies, unless you want to watch your kids scratching their legs the whole time!)  At the end of the summer mosquitos are rare but it's hotter (think 80-90's during the day). There are fewer campers, especially mid-week sessions.

Discounts:  There is a free Work Weekend before the camp opens in early May for ages 13 and up. There are "camperships" for all sessions which you must apply for in advance; registration is a week earlier for these stays. There are free stays for a camp doctor/nurse, and for artists in residence - see the registration form.  There are also day passes available and nightly tent rentals.


Cabins can hold up to 6 people. A few of the original cabins survived the fire but most are new. The new cabins look just like the old cabins - wood platform and roof frame with a canvas tent topper and a deck. All the cabins now have a sun shade over the deck; very few cabins are shaded by mature trees so they can get hot. Bring tarps and/or sheets to hang up to provide more shade if you're there at the end of the summer when it's hot.  As before, there are 3-6 metal twin-sized cots with plastic-encased mattresses in each cabin. They are a lot more comfortable if you bring air mattresses - push two cots together and plop your Q or K sized air mattress on top.  A lot of campers like to drag their cots out to the deck and sleep under the stars!  Campers with a baby get a rocking chair in the cabin. The old in-cabin cabinets with nonfunctional doors are gone! In 2022 our cabin had two sturdy wooden sideboards with deep shelves to stash gear.  There are bear lockers located near each restroom to stash your food at night. Each cabin has a broom and a garbage can.  If you get one of the "disability" cabins you'll have two electrical outlets and you'll be close to the restrooms for your zone.  Many cabins, including disability cabins, have no steps or a ramp to access them, but some may have a step or two up.

Cabin selection

The new system for picking a cabin is a very welcome improvement over the previous anxiety-ridden method of frantic camp arrivals, random cabin availability, and dashed hopes.

Here's how it worked in 2022:  About a week before we were scheduled to arrive, we got an email from the city called "Pre-Arrival Survey and Welcome Packet."  We were asked to rank the four "zones" of camp in the order of our preference - a map was attached.  We could also note any disabilities that required a cabin with accommodations, such as electricity for medical equipment or easy access for mobility issues.  We were notified which zone we'd been assigned just a couple of days after returning the questionnaire (we got our #1 choice - yay!). 

  1. Thimbleberry - straight uphill closest to the entrance, backing up to Thimbleberry Creek
  2. Sky Camp - grouped around and uphill from the amphitheater and basketball court
  3. Sugar Pine - closest to main camp facilities and to the right of the amphitheater (looking uphill)
  4. Riverside - farthest from the main part of camp, roughly along the river (but no longer "on" the river for eco reasons)

Each zone in the camp has a deluxe bathroom/shower facility. Sugar Pine and Riverside have fewer cabins so they share a bathroom building but it's big. There are 2-5 "disability cabins" in each zone that are situated downhill, close to the restrooms and the main camp. Every zone has at least a few cabins that are high up, away from the noise and bustle, and are accessible by easy stairs, which is an improvement over the previous rutted rocky trail! The two zones that have some cabins that don't require any stair-climbing are Sugar Pine and Riverside.

    What about Sun City?  There are no cabins there anymore. That area now contains the manager's cabin, the Nature Center, the sauna, and the old Sun City bathrooms. The main bridge now extends from the dining hall all the way across the river and over Sun City to the road. Yay! The giant rock in the center of the old Sun City circle of cabins is now in a protected area of the US Forest Service. But amazingly, the old Sun City bathrooms survived the fire! So you can have a nostalgic potty visit with your knees wedged up against a cubicle door that was painted by a group of children to resemble a pine tree in the forest. 

    Checking In

    We were assigned an arrival time window when we were assigned our zone. Our window was 1:15 - 3pm. Arriving before that and having lunch was OK, just couldn't check in until 1:15. When you check in, you'll be able to choose from 2 or 3 cabins in your assigned zone. There's a map and you'll also have time to go and look at them first. There was a bit of a line for check-in but it was very organized. There was a sign-up sheet for getting your things transported to your cabin by the Maint Dogs (maintenance staff.)  Sorry folks, no more muscled-up half-naked teenagers running through camp yelling to get out of the way, heaving old ammo carts from WWII painted green, loaded up with duffle bags and camp gear!  There are stairs uphill now. It has to be done a different way.  And probably the old ammo carts were lost in the fire. But it's organized. The in-camp parking lot near the office is now only for people who are unloading during their assigned time. The new parking lot is  now across the road, where archery used to be. It's big enough for all the cars - no more parking alongside the road. You can park and unload your stuff yourself if you like.  The new bridge now stretches from the road across from the parking lot all the way to the dining hall. There are hand trolleys available on a first-come first-served basis. 

    Bathrooms & Showers

    The new ones are beautiful, plentiful, easy access, and modern. Each zone has a large restroom facility (the two small zones share one) and there are also toilet facilities on the backside of the dining hall and in the rec center. The large bathroom facilities have high ceilings, exposed rafters, and a pleasing woodsy palette with sturdy stainless steel fittings. The bathroom for Riverside/Sugar Pine, where I stayed, had two bathrooms ("Male-identified" and "Female-identified"), each with 3 toilet cubicles including one roomy handicapped stall. Next to the two bathrooms were FIVE shower stalls all in a row. The showers are lovely! As before the interior is lined in river rocks and it's open to the sky. But the new ones are so much better in so many ways. They have a floor to ceiling locking door, plenty of hooks inside, and they are at least twice as big as the old ones - each shower room is big enough for a family of four if needed, or a luxurious shower for one!  The water-saver sprayer is not bad at all. It gets the shampoo out. Bring your own soap.  There is also a large bear locker and a water bottle filling station in front of each of the restroom facilities. 


    We were there only three nights, but two of the dinners were meatless (example: a tasty veggie curry with naan and yogurt on the side).  When meat is served, there are always veggie options, and a salad bar with plentiful options is always available at lunch and dinner. Dessert is every night, to the delight of our Berkeley sugar-deprived children. Hot lunches everyday, such as make-it-yourself burritos, or burgers - beef, turkey or veggie. Breakfast was particularly good. Our last morning, there was a choice of veggie quiche or bacon quiche. There were breakfast salads - a big bowl of cherry tomatoes and another one of arugula lightly dressed, and there is always fruit - melons, nectarines, other summer fare.  There is a porridge selection everyday. I had oatmeal one day with toppings including dried cranberries, chopped pecans, and shaved coconut. There is a selection of breads, with a toaster, and butter, nut butters, and jam available throughout the day, as is a big bowl of bananas, stone fruit and/or apples.  As before, the tea and coffee options are all-day and over the top - bring your own or use theirs - pour-over, drip, giant coffee urn, and a row of tea canisters with every selection imaginable. There is also hot chocolate and hot apple cider all day. New in 2022: there is an actual built-in fridge under the long coffee and tea service counter - no more room temperature half-n-half for your morning coffee!  The kids' sugary cereal stash has its own cabinet too. 

    The new dining hall is just a pleasure to walk into - spacious and cool with high ceilings with big fans and a wall of glass windows overlooking the river. There are many tables outside on the wrap-around veranda too, if you prefer al fresco. Each family is assigned to a table but you can move to an unoccupied table if you prefer.

    Here are meal times. The bell tolls 45 minutes before each meal and again 15 minutes beforehand.
    - Breakfast: 8:30
    - Lunch: 12:30
    - Dinner: 6:30

    Happy Hour

    We found that we needed to modify Happy Hour (5:30-6:30) this year, mainly because the cabins are too hot in the late afternoon since they are no longer tucked under a leafy canopy. When we were there in August it was in the mid-90's and in the afternoon the cabins were broiling, even with copious tarps, shades, and water-spraying portable fans. So we made these changes:  1) Venue: We abandoned the cabins for Happy Hour after the first day and moved to either the riverside or the dining hall veranda.  2) Food. Don't bring it.  It was fun in years past to have a big multi-family spread of snacks for Happy Hour, but this year it felt like too much, and we ended up not eating a lot of what we brought from home. The food at camp is good and plentiful, and we really just weren't that hungry. Also, it's not possible to keep things like cheeses and beer cold enough in an ice chest in your cabin. Remember that the little camp store has never reliably had enough ice, and the demand was even higher this year. Plus it's a pain to remember to get ice every morning, and it's even more of a pain to drive to the local convenience store for ice every day.  At night, all your food must go into one of the bear lockers located outside the restrooms. So bringing a lot of food from Berkeley no longer makes sense. Instead, just pick up a few heat-tolerant snacks on the way to camp, or grab snacks from the camp store, or send a runner to the local convenience store for chips and that kind of 7-11 salsa that we rarely see in Berkeley. You could still bring a small ice chest for select bottles and cans that you can't live without. 

    Favorite things in 2022

    1. Playing cards after dinner with friends on the deck of the rec hall and looking at the stars
    2. Floating in the lower river in 3 feet of water and watching the tiny fishes nibbling my toes
    3. Running in to a family I last saw at preschool 18 years ago and catching up while chilling at the beach
    4. Filling my water bottle outside the d-hall and realizing there was a cool mist spraying down on me from the rafters
    5. Bacon quiche with arugula salad for breakfast, al fresco with a river view

    A Note for Introverts

    When I've raved about the camp to friends, this question often comes up because so many of my friends are introverts like me: "Yes, but I hate being made to participate in group activities and sing songs around a campfire with a bunch of people I don't know."  To which I respond:  It's not like that. There are NO required social interactions at Camp Tuolumne.  You do what you want. I personally spend most of my days by myself, reading a book down by the river. NO ONE bothers me - not even my kids, because they are off doing fun kid things (or in kiddie camp when they were younger). Of course there is no cell phone or TV or doorbell ringing. It is the most peaceful place you can imagine. My husband is the opposite - he signs up for every breakfast walk and night hike, would not think of missing the staff show or the campfire sing-along, looks forward to ceramics, tie-dye and whatever else is on offer this week, and the rest of the time hangs out at the beach chatting it up with people he recognizes from his weekly trips to the Berkeley Bowl (another hated activity for introverts). If you're not into this level of socializing, the only time you will need to be around people is meal time. Your family will be assigned a table in the new spacious lovely dining hall which I personally don't mind -  but if you want to, you can take your plate outside to an unoccupied table or a rocking chair or even back to your cabin.  Camp Tuolumne is actually the perfect place to relax with your family if you are an introvert!

    Driving Time

    From Berkeley Highway 13, the drive is about 3 hours, including one bathroom stop. You'll be assigned an arrival time, so plan your leave time accordingly.

    The Trip There

    Even though it's only 3 hours it IS a bit boring for little kids. Here are some tips to make the drive go faster, some places to stop, and things you can watch for to make it more interesting.

    • Car music: everyone gets a turn playing two tracks in a row of their choice. Start over when everyone's had a turn. Everyone agrees to try to pick something they think others might like, and then listen politely to the others' music without making faces or complaining. The time goes by a lot faster, you might hear something you like that you thought you didn't, and nobody has to suffer through 3 CDs of Weird Al just because that's what the driver wants to hear.
    • On 580, past Livermore and thru the Altamont Pass: what are all those windmills? why are they facing in all different directions? For older kids, put on the Stones and explain the significance of Altamont.
    • Tracy: is it lunchtime? If so, see The Trip Back below.
    • Manteca: Get out and see what the rest of America looks like! There's a Home Depot for last-minute camping items and a Starbucks too. Things to look for: an OLD drawbridge.
    • Near Ripon: Vineyards and fruit trees and almond trees and Pooh's House of Cactus!
    • Escalon: what a lot of churches in such a little town! How many different denominations can you spot? Hey - it's the Van Allen School! (if anyone in the car knows the significance of Van Allen, give them a kiss and tell them they are a nerd.)
    • Just before Oakdale: can you spot the Big Red Barn?
    • Oakdale: Gas!! Fast food!! Longs Drugstore!! Big 5 Sporting Goods!! Check out Bucksworth Western Wear on the outskirts. Here's your chance to get a real authentic cowgirl hat! (Or save for the drive back!)
    • Past Oakdale: what are those fields of pointy little boulders sticking up out of the ground? (glacier detritus) Look for bee hives. Count cows. Did you spot the old farm house with grass growing on its roof? Do you see some giant solar panels next to a grove?
    • Even more past Oakdale: HUGE stack of logs. Where did all those logs come from? Why is water being sprayed on the logs?
    • Groveland: You're almost there. Cute little town with cafes, ice cream, markets, and a motel. A favorite Covid-era work-from-home destination. Stop here for lunch if you won't make lunchtime at Tuolumne. Last chance to check email on the laptop you shouldn't have brought.
    • Don Pedro Reservoir: You're only 23 miles from Tuolumne now.
    • Short Cut: Right after Moccasin Creek, take Old Priest Grade Road. Turn off the AC, open the windows, and everybody lean forward as your car climbs the steep, steep hill. Ha ha - look at all the losers taking the longer windey road over there! Do you see the jugs of water that say H2O 4 U? Who put them there?
    • Watch for the sign to camp. It says something slightly unexpected, like Berkeley Camp. Did you miss it? Take the next right and go past the 7-11 and yurts. You'll get there!

    The Trip Back

    Our favorite part of the trip back is stopping for lunch at La Villa in Tracy (57 E. 11th Street, corner of El Portal). On our last day, we like to eat breakfast at Camp Tuolumne, then pack up the car, round up the kids, and head out by 10:30 or so. By the time we get to Tracy we are ready to have lunch and a bathroom break. La Villa is a spacious, old-fashioned, family-friendly Mexican restaurant with really great traditional food, always busy with both gringos and latinos, but not so packed you have to wait, even if you're traveling with a group. It makes you feel happy just walking into La Villa. There's an inexpensive lunch special with a ton of hearty food, and a child's plate too. Highly recommended!

    Archived Q&A and Reviews

    December 2006

    (Note in 2023, much of this is no longer relevant!!)

    A few tips from someone who's been going to Tuolumne for more than 15 years.  See also My Packing List.

    Reserving your Spot

    Do not put this off. If you are not on the mailing list, call now to get on the list (see their website for info). You'll be on the list if you attended camp last year. The applications are mailed out in the fall, as early as September or October, for the following summer. As soon as you get yours, immediately call your sister or your friend or your spouse and set a date. Everybody should fill out the application immediately and send it in. Berkeley residents get priority up to Nov 15 and then it's open to non-residents, first-come first-served. The most popular dates (like July 4 week) fill up within the first month of registration. Many or most other weeks will be full by February. This year (2006), I overheard someone say at a Christmas party (note: this is pure gossip so don't quote me) that camp was completely full already except for the first week. So you have to plan for next year almost as soon as you leave camp this year. Try to anticipate which friend or which nephew might want to go next year. Do not assume you will be able to add more people to your cabin later. In past years this was never a problem, but the camp has gotten much stricter about enforcing the max occupancy rate, for the safeguard of the septic system apparently. Last camp session we tried to add my sister in late spring but the max occupancy rate had already been reached, so include anyone in your cabin that you think may be going.


      So, you've made the trip from Berkeley, and you're almost there. Does your heart start beating faster as soon as the tent cabins come in to view? Hurry! Hurry! Somebody is already in the office! right at this minute! about to take that special cabin that YOU could have had, if only you'd arrived 5 minutes sooner! And there are 3 more cars behind you, who will beat you to the office and get a better cabin than you! Hurry! Park anywhere, ignore the kids' pleas to use the toilet, and run to the office as fast as you can, if you want to snag a decent cabin! No time to waste!!!!!!!!

      No, no, no, you don't want to go there. Take a deep breath, and repeat Sherry Reinhardt 's mantra: Every cabin is a good cabin. Every cabin is a good cabin. Every cabin is a good cabin. Now, walk to the office, wait for your turn, and then find out which cabins are available. Look on the map, or walk around camp and see them for yourself. Here's what I've learned about cabins:

      • Nobody has ever snagged the better cabin while I was walking around checking out the available ones. Take your time and don't get all in a tizzy over this.
      • River cabins: I have tried many different strategies to get one of these. None of them has worked. I've tried arriving super early in the day, arriving on a particular day of the week, trying to discover some special insider connection, and just plain old dumb luck. Twice in 15 years I've gotten a river cabin by staying in a different cabin for the first 3 days and then moving. This is a big enough pain that I haven't done this again. It's possible that those golden people in the river cabins started off in a different cabin and then moved. Worth it if you're coming for 2 weeks, but not worth it on a 5-night stay (well, maybe once in a lifetime it is worth it!) The river cabins are lovely but ... they get a LOT of afternoon sun, most of them are close to the noisy center of the camp, and the river noise may bother some people.
      • Sun City: I've stayed many times in Sun City. Pros: it's quieter, it has the least crowded bathrooms and best showers in camp, and the cabins on the river side have a lovely view. There's a big rock in the clearing where at night you can see all the stars, and there is a small playground just for SC. Cons: roadside cabins get street noise (OK, one car per hour maybe at night) and mosquitoes are worse there in the early summer. And of course, it's hot. The real scorcher is that little cabin right on the beach just below the Sun City bathrooms. The location is great for beach lovers but be warned: the cabin is an inferno!
      • Up the Hill vs. Near Camp Center: If you have little kids, it's a lot more convenient to be closer to the center of camp near the play structure, dining hall, bathrooms, bridge, etc. Little ones like the shorter distances - they complain about walking up and down the hill. And, it's great for a four or five-year-old to be able to visit the bathroom or play structure by himself while you watch from your porch. However, closer to the action means more noise and less privacy. Also, if your stay includes one of the stage shows (Sat. Staff Show or Thurs. Table Night) and you have a little one with an early bedtime, you probably don't want to be in one of the cabins next to the stage. People with older kids or no kids may prefer the quieter, more private cabins off the main drag - further down the river or up in the trees. There are some great, very large cabins tucked up there for those who don't mind the hike up. However, beware: the further up the ridge you go, the more mosquitoes! My personal faves are the smallish cabins halfway up the main drag that straddle the creek. However, these are not for everyone! One year, I got one one of these when the previous occupant bailed because the trickling water sound was making her kids have to pee all night long.
      • Every cabin is a good cabin. Every cabin is a good cabin. Every cabin is a good cabin.


      Remarkably good food served family style by friendly teenagers in a big, noisy dining hall. The noise and frenzy may bother some people. If this is you or your kid, try coming 15 minutes late. Each table seats 12-14. In 2006 camp got stricter about limits on max occupancy, so the dining room was MUCH calmer and quieter, with more elbow room.

      As everyone says, the food is great. Here are two examples of dinners served in 2006: 1) salmon baked in foil, fresh asparagus, mushroom risotto, and ratatouille for the veggie option, 2) roasted lamb, baked zucchini with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella & parmesan, rice w/almonds, and spanikopita for the veggie option. There is a salad bar at lunch and dinner (mixed greens or romaine, and rotating ingredients such as cherry tomatoes, artichokes, cucumbers, sprouts, beans, feta, etc.). Watch for the delicious wasabi dressing. Lunches included homemade pizza, make-it-yourself burritos, spaghetti, hamburgers & hotdogs (all w/veggie versions). There's a Picky Eater Table with sliced bread, packets of peanut butter and jelly, a big bowl of fresh seasonal fruit, and yogurt. This table is open all day, and coffee, tea, water, and hot chocolate are also available all day. You can also sign up to make take-away lunches if you're planning a day trip to Yosemite or the environs.



      Walk around camp and see where all the showers are. Most of them are very woodsy and open to the sky, have plenty of room for an extra little kid or two, and have ultra-extreme flow regulators. But I have never personally run out of hot water, at least! Wear your flip-flops. Don't look too closely at what's lodged under the rubber floor mats. Be a good citizen and pick up shampoo caps, soap slivers, and ponytail ties that others leave behind. In Summer 2006 the showers next to the laundromat, near the stage, were closed. Those had been my favorites in 2005. This year there were new showers in the main camp, but my very favorite showers turned out to be the ones in Sun City, also recently re-done. Very comfy and roomy with wow! a decent sized spray! A good time to get a shower is after swimming opens (around 10:30am and in the afternoon at 2:30-ish). Bad times are just before, during, and after mealtimes.

      Tuolumne Ranger

      It took me a while to figure out how this works. For years I watched all the other kids getting their Tuolumne Ranger hats and salutes at lunch, and figured I just didn't have the right insider information. Well, the trouble was, we never made it up to the Nature Center. So, here's the scoop: if your kid can write (age 6 or so) and wants to be a Tuolumne Ranger (not all do), then visit the Nature Center on your first day in camp. It takes a couple days to accumulate all the necessary stuff needed to pass the ranger requirements (for example, they have to do a nature walk and identify stuff, pick up trash around camp, draw a picture, that kind of thing). Kids 4-6 can be Tuolumne Detectives - they get a certificate but you will likely be doing all the work. Don't forget your mosquito spray when you take them on the nature scavenger hunt.

      Happy Hour

      I didn't find out there was a Happy Hour until I had been going to Camp Tuolumne for many years. Now I know: Happy Hour begins at 5:15, which is when the first bell for dinner is sounded. It also happens to be, very conveniently, 15 minutes after the start time of the last Kiddie Camp of the day. But you may want to begin preparing for Happy Hour before 5:15. Personally, I note at 4:30 that it is starting to get close to Happy Hour, so I alert my friends and family, start gathering my things, and head up toward the cabin. Where is Happy Hour? It's in your cabin. Or in your friend's cabin if theirs is on the river, or is less of a walk uphill, or is next to the play structure, or if they have more chairs, or better snacks. One popular drink at Happy Hour is gin & tonic because 1) it's cold, 2) it's not too sweet or sticky 3) it's way happier than beer or wine. But you could also have beer or wine at Happy Hour. It is acceptable to drink a soda or even bubbly water at Happy Hour. Some people are very thoughtful and pack tasty snacks just for Happy Hour. But, you can get packets of chips and party mix at the little camp store. Making a trip to the 7-11 up the road is not really worth it unless you would like to offer five different types of beef jerky at your Happy Hour gathering. You will not find baguettes or nice cheeses or any kind of nuts besides Beer Nuts at the local 7-11, so be forewarned and save yourself a trip. This may be the Berkeley Camp, but it ain't Berkeley, my friend. So if you need nice munchies for your Happy Hour, better bring them from home. Don't forget to buy ice at the camp store right after lunch so your supplies will be cold by 5:15!

      My Five Favorite Things

      Everyone knows that kids will have a great time at Camp Tuolumne, but what about adults? And what about adults who don't especially like camping, hiking, swimming, sweating, and being dirty? Is there something fun for them to do? Yes! Here are my 5 favorite things.

      1. Reading. This may seem obvious but it really is the Number One thing I look forward to every year. This is the only time of the year when I can sit, relatively undisturbed, for the better part of the day, with a book. I start planning my book bag a few weeks before camp. Usually I can finish off two books and 5 New Yorkers in a 5-night camp stay. My favorite spot to read is on the island, overlooking the swimming area. My second favorite spot is on the porch of my cabin, while the rest of the family is off doing crafts or swimming or hiking or whatever. (Yes, it is OK to be both anti-social and anti-active at Tuolumne!)
      2. Yummy hot meals at regular intervals, prepared by someone else, and the only clean-up you have to do is you taking your plate to the wash-up window and tossing it in to the teenager who's doing the actual work. When's the last time you got something warm to eat for breakfast EVERY single morning? Tip: In addition to the main breakfast offering on the table, hot cereal (oatmeal or cream of wheat or even grits) is available at the Picky Eater Table but there may be a long line, so plan accordingly.
      3. Quiet Hour: sign the child(ren) up for Kiddie Camp, put a cot out on the porch, stretch out with a book under the trees, and alternately read and snooze. Hey! It's so quiet!
      4. Early morning in the dining hall: coffee ...rocker ... book ... fire ... There's a revolving group of early morning regulars who start the fire, make the coffee, and claim one of the rocking chairs in front of the fireplace. This could be you, if you like to get up before 7am. This is a great place to go if you came with a baby who wakes up at 6am. Once the kitchen staff gets going, you will have the pleasure of listening to early morning grunge rock or hip-hop or oldies, played loud enough to wake up all those 16 year old kitchen hands who are making breakfast for everyone. This is part of the charm of being an early morning regular.
      5. Happy Hour (explained above). Try to go to Camp Tuolumne at the same time as your friend who thinks of everything and packs the station wagon to the gills with little plastic containers of this and that and a giant-sized ice chest full of goodies, so you can have delicious gourmet snacks at Happy Hour.