Camp Mather, located in the forests near the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, is managed by the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department. (Shutterstock)

Camp Mather, located in the forests near the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, is managed by the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department. (Shutterstock)

Camp Mather to remain closed in 2021 due to COVID-19

Camp Mather, San Francisco’s summer camp in the High Sierra, will remain closed this year due to COVID-19, the Recreation and Park Department said Thursday. It is the second summer the site will stay closed due to the pandemic.

“We know summers at Camp Mather are very special for San Francisco families. We feel the same way,” said Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “However, the health of our campers and staff are the most important consideration. The COVID-19 transmission risk simply remains too high.”

The city-owned 337-acre site usually sees about 500 campers and 70 employees weekly. The department said the decision was made after consulting with heath officials in both San Francisco and Tuolumne counties.

The announcement comes at a time when families would normally be entering a lottery for a spot in the summer camp, which has served city residents for more than 90 years. Last year, the department canceled the 2020 summer camp session in April, a month after the first cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in San Francisco.

The camp poses a risk for transmission of COVID-19 due to the sharing of bathrooms, meals and social activities. The department said that it also took into consideration the fact that since the camp is located in a remote area near Yosemite, it could pose a challenge to provide medical care if there was an outbreak.

Another factor is staffing. “The spread of the virus and its uncertain forecast has made it difficult to recruit camp employees,” the department said.

“We support prioritizing the safety of campers and staff by closing Camp Mather for the season,” Friends of Camp Mather Board President Eamon Barisone said in a statement. “We look forward to our continued work with Rec and Park and returning to camp in 2022 for another fun summer.”

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