Camp Tawonga sign
Camp Tawonga (File photo)

Tawonga cancels a camp session due to California Covid surge

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A four-day Camp Tawonga introductory session with 200 children enrolled has been canceled due to a surge in Covid cases in the region and low vaccination rates among the enrollees, most too young to get the shot, according to a July 29 email sent by camp director Becca Meyer and CEO Jamie Simon.

“We were so looking forward to welcoming your child to Tawonga and share in the disappointment this news may cause — but we must prioritize the health and safety of [all of] our campers and staff,” the email stated.

“Taste of Camp” is a kind of mini-session for those entering second through 7th grades who are new to the sleep-away camp experience. It includes traditional activities such as living in a bunk, swimming, boating and archery.

Only five children who were signed up for the Aug. 8-11 “Taste of Camp” session had been inoculated. No vaccine has yet been authorized for children under 12, although trials are currently underway.

The announcement cited rising Covid cases in the counties of San Francisco, Alameda and Tuolumne, where the camp is located.

“Based on the surge of Covid-19 in the Bay Area, combined with the low vaccination rates of our Taste of Camp camper population, we sadly cannot meet the criteria to run a safe session at this time,” the announcement stated. The decision was guided, Meyer and Simon wrote, by the camp’s Covid-19 task force, an 11-person team that includes epidemiologists and other health professionals.

Camp Tawonga is in Tuolumne County, close to Yosemite
Camp Tawonga is in Tuolumne County, close to Yosemite

Those enrolled in the session will receive refunds and get priority for next year’s camp registration, the email said. The session cost is $875.

San Francisco is averaging 221 cases per day and has seen a 47 percent increase in cases over the last week. In Alameda County, cases rose sharply in late July but have since leveled off to 309 per day, down 48 percent from a week ago.

Camp Tawonga, which sits on a 160-acre plot at a fork in the Tuolumne River, already has completed its first camp session, which ran from June 13 to July 8. The second session started July 11 and will end Aug. 5. Those sessions are for kids in fourth through 10th grades; two-thirds of the campers were vaccinated, Meyer and Simon’s email said.

On Friday, Tuolumne County recorded an additional 42 positive cases of Covid-19, 13 of them among children, according to the Sonora-based Union Democrat. According to statistics on, the county is averaging 32.9 cases per day over the past week, and has  the third-highest daily new case count per 100,000 people among the state’s 58 counties. Slightly less than half of the county is fully vaccinated.

On Monday, in response to the surge in cases and the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, eight Bay Area counties started requiring masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. The requirement goes into effect Tuesday, Aug. 3.

In addition to navigating the rise in Covid cases, Tawonga experienced the tragic death of counselor Eli Kane on July 15. The 20-year-old died after what appears to be an off-site drowning accident in the Stanislaus National Forest on a day off from his camp duties.

Gabriel Greschler

Gabriel Greschler was a staff writer at J. from 2019 to 2021.