Dear C.A.M.P. friends,

As per California state charter, we are still in the business of providing a camping experience for youth. We are still committed in serving youth, especially the underserved. We want to engage our youth in their physical and spiritual development. In living in the community of people we hope they would feel welcomed and a belongingness so that in turn they may contribute to their own communities. These are our main goals, and we will be struggling on how to actuate them in this apparently “changed” world as we emerge from the consequences and uncertainties of this pandemic.

Camp Alumni Membership Program (C.A.M.P.) was established as a California state charter non-profit charitable organization in 1984. We resolve that this organization will be managed and operated by all volunteers. Its sole purpose then was to provide funds for the Chinatown YMCA youth camping and youth-in-government programs. It was established with the support of community people independent of the Chinatown YMCA so that 100% of the funds raised would go toward directly to camperships to the youth. The independence would avoid the 13% charge of all revenue Chinatown YMCA raised going to its parent organization, the Metropolitan YMCA of San Francisco.

In 1991 in order to expand our support base we in collaboration with the Chinatown YMCA established a family weekend residence camp. At its inception the participants consisted of former Y campers and their families. Through their contacts we able to reach out and expanded the number of people involved with the eventual goal of C.A.M.P. of being true to our original charter.

In 1993 we went independent from Chinatown YMCA, operating on our own Family Residence Camp at Oakland YMCA Camp Loma Mar. We had an added feature, a Girls Camp component of six girls. In 1994 we added to the two camps at Loma Mar a Boys Camp component of thirty boys*. In 1996 while the girls were still attached to the Family Camp, we operated our first Boys Residence Camp at Camp Oljato in the high sierras. As a family style did not adhere to our original charter, it was dropped after fifteen successful years. But we will continued to operate successfully and separately Girls Camp at Redwood Glen and Boys Camp at Oljato in the future.

That we are independent allowing us to be nimble and flexible plays a role in our success with our camps. Our strength is being able to change with the times. As we held fast to traditional values, we were able to make those values relevant to a changing demographics. While parts of the program appear to be like the ‘good old days’, they still engender belongingness and service to others.

Are we still in the game? But the game is not over until the fat lady sings. So, my friends: “the more we get together, together,….”

George Lai

*mostly from Wilmer Fong’s ESL classes at Francisco Middle School