I have been looking forward to attending Camp Mather long before I settled down and got married. As a child, I LOVED summer camp and once I learned about Camp Mather I couldn’t wait to have my own family and participate in this quintessential San Francisco experience otherwise know as family camp.
Getting into Camp Mather isn’t always easy. During the summer there is a lottery, but if you are up for attending Camp Mather in September it is much easier to get a spot. There are also less mosquitoes in the fall which makes it a great time to go if you are bringing young children that you don’t want to coat with nasty bug repellent.
The only downside of attending Camp Mather in the fall is that sometimes there are a few brief rain showers. Lucky for us they were mild and only occurred during the girls nap times.
Cabins are rustic and include beds, a dresser, closet, and if you are lucky a bookshelf. However there is a picnic table out front and the cabins have electricity.
The few mild rain showers provided us some time to catch up on our reading while sitting on the small front porch of our cabin. There is no cell or internet service at Camp Mather. At first I honestly thought I might die, but not being connected for almost five whole days turned out to be an incredible blessing!
Since the cabins are TINY you will spend almost all of your time outdoors. There is a beautiful lake, swimming pool, tennis court, basket ball court, ping pong table, archery, etc. etc.
Horse and donkey rides are available for a fee. Ivey LOVED stopping by to talk to the “caballos y burros” several times a day. She even learned how to make a pretty realistic neigh and hee-haw sound which is wonderfully amusing and annoying at the same time.
There are also activities like making lanyard, friendship bracelets and tie-dyeing t-shirts.
One of the BEST things about Camp Mather is that you don’t have to cook! They feed you three squares a day and the food actually tastes good. During a few of the meals Ivey, like a typical toddler, refused to eat what was provided – lucky for us cereal and apple sauce is almost always available as well.
Instead of heading to the dining hall for lunch you can request a sack lunch and eat it at the lake or other location of your choice.
Because we didn’t bring the stroller, and she is not quite big enough for a high chair, Linden spent most meals sitting on my husband’s lap. She is only 3 months old but I swear I caught her checking out daddy’s food on more than one occasion.
Most people bring bikes to Camp Mather. However if you don’t have a bike, or your kids are too little, make sure you bring carriers for each child. Originally I was only planning on bringing the Moby for Linden but I luckily decided to pack the Ergo as a backup. As it turns out, Ivey spent a fair amount of time being carried in the Ergo and I really don’t know what we would have done without it.
Ivey loved Camp Mather (she loves playing in the dirt and picking flowers to wear in her hair). She didn’t wear a pull up during the day (except for naps) which really helped with her potty-training. On the few occasions where we were hiking around and were unable to reach the bathrooms in time, Ivey learned how to take a “nature pee”. Now that we are back in the city however getting Ivey to understand that a nature pee should only happen in nature is not that easy to explain when you live in an urban neighborhood where the streets sometimes smell like pee.
While at Camp Mather we met so many amazing San Francisco families. Some of these families have been attending Camp Mather every summer for 30 years! This trip started off as an item I wanted to check off my life list but ended up as the start of a family tradition. Hopefully we will see you there as well!
Have you attended Camp Mather? I would love to hear your stories and experiences! Please leave a comment below.