Last chance for a sing-a-long at Saratogas Camp Swig

Growing up at Camp Swig, Marc Dollinger was a camper, a counselor, a unit head, a counselor-in-training adviser, the educational director and, finally, the program director.

“I did a lot of cleanup on Shabbat,” deadpanned the head of San Francisco State University’s Jewish studies program.

And now he can clean up one last time.

Despite the efforts of local groups hoping to keep the Saratoga camp a Jewish organization, the Union of Reform Judaism earlier this year entered into an agreement to sell the 185-acre property to a Methodist group.

Former campers — and there are legions — will have one final chance to walk through Swig’s gate, tell their children for the umpteenth time about how they met lifelong friends or spouses. And, of course, they will sing.

On April 6 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Swig alumni are invited to convene in the redwoods — and bring their guitars and drums. Several hundred have already RSVPed — and you can do so as well, at

“I personally had some really meaningful — and ‘meaningful’ is an understatement — interactions with counselors, faculty and educators there,” said Rabbi Laura Novak-Winer, one of the event’s organizers along with Dollinger and others.

“For me, as a camper, it shaped a lot of my understanding of myself, my Jewish identity and inspired me to continue to learn and ultimately become a rabbi.”

At the farewell, Judaic artifacts from the Jo Naymark Holocaust Memorial building will be collected so they can be incorporated into a memorial at Santa Rosa’s Camp Newman in July.

“For me, saying goodbye is giving thanks to the community and to God for the blessings we all got by being part of the Camp Swig experience,” said Novak-Winer.

Dollinger, meanwhile, plans to stroll down memory lane. And he won’t do it alone.

“What I will do is walk my daughters through the camp; they’re 8 and 12, and too young to have gone here,” he said.

“And I will tell them stories.”

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.