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Camps return after Rim Fire

Two Yosemite-area summer camps, which draw thousands of tourists yearly to economically hard-hit southern Tuolumne County, are readying to reopen for the season following last year’s destructive Rim Fire.

Camp Tawonga plans to install four or five yurts to make up for two staff cabins that burned in the fire, said Aaron Mandel, assistant director of the Jewish camp which serves children from throughout the state.


The fire also damaged a ropes course and outdoor amphitheater used for prayer services and camp gatherings.

“Those are in the process of being rebuilt and will be ready for summer programs,” Mandel said.

The 160-acre camp is located off Mather Road along the Middle Fork of the Tuolumne River in the Stanislaus National Forest.

As the Rim Fire approached the camp last August, staffers were asked to grab “memory books” and a special Holocaust-era Torah, the Jewish holy book, as a precaution.

Those items will return, along with campers, this May.

Nearby, the City of San Jose’s family camp, which goes by the name of Family Camp at Yosemite, plans to open in June.

The Rim Fire burned the outskirts of the camp, which sits on 47 acres leased from the Forest Service off Cherry Lake Road.

Art Catbagan, recreation superintendent for the City of San Jose, estimated 90 to 95 percent of the camp is “undamaged.”

“A lot of the damage was sustained in areas where we don’t have campers,” he said. “If you’re sitting in the middle of camp, you can’t even tell (a fire came through).”

The Rim Fire burned 14 of the camp’s canvas tent cabins. Of those 14, four were for volunteers and 10 were among the 72 tent cabins rented to campers.

The fire also burned an outbuilding and damaged the camp’s well infrastructure. The wells have been repaired, and workers are in the process of replacing the tent cabins.

For the full story, see the March 3 edition of The Union Democrat.

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