A BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR CHURCH CAMPS
In past years (let us say the 60's and before), the San Francisco and El Cerrito churches operated a one-week summer camp for younger children at Sunshine Camp near Clayton on the east side of Mt. Diablo. The camp was a collection of ancient wooden buildings which had previously served as a recovery area for sufferers of tuberculosis, and as a prison for German war captives during World War I. Its rolling hills looked down on its neighbor, the Santa Rita prison farm. A big sign out front said "Sunshine Camp" and sometimes attracted the curious, who would ask if it was a nudist camp.
The camp was staffed by church members. Phyllis Bosley and I served as counselors for two years. I remember then El Cerrito minister Eric Zacharias playing baseball, and El Cerrito member Emily Bateman leading the children in Camp Farthest Out songs.
The accommodations were primitive but adequate, and the hot weather encouraged use of the swimming pool. An open-air service greeted the day. Food was prepared by the local staff and served on Navy-style metal trays.
The other was a camp for teens, Split Mountain Camp, held for many years in several locations in the Sierra foothills. I believe it was largely a tent camp, led by a minister but with much self-government by the teens. Everyone received a camp name, by which they were known for years afterward.
Currently we have no camps planned on the West Coast, although Swedenborgians on the East Coast have Friburg (on the banks of the Saco River in Maine), and also one in the Midwest.
San Francisco has a number of young people who might enjoy a camping experience, though other West Coast churches have few. Still, the El Cerrito church building can accommodate a number for an overnight or weekend experience, and the Youth Minister Kurt Fekete might be able to lead such a group.