Camp Cazadero

“Encourage my soul, and let us journey on…though the night is dark, and I am far from home…” gospel tune

Man oh Manishevitz you  couldn’t hope for a better week of summer than  the one I just spent at Cazadero Performing Arts Family Camp. I went to camp with my two kids and my mom.

For one week my eyes didn’t look at a screen of any kind -TV, cell, computer-, I didn’t handle any money (except at Raymond’s Bakery across the street, man those Brownies) and nobody talked much about work. In fact, you didn’t know who anyone was- or rather you learned about who they were, just not what they did to make the rent. You talked about your classes, how Ukulele was going, or songwriting, maybe Joel Ben Izzy’s story at the campfire last night. (

I could be playing ping pong with a stockbroker, a brain surgeon, or someone still following whoever followed the Grateful Dead- everyone was equal in dusty jeans and unshowered hair.

An average day, I wake up, maybe do Yoga, maybe snooze until the wake-up band comes strollin along the tent cabins about 8:30 or so. The giant redwoods greet me, I stumble to the dining hall and have coffee. (Yes, for a week, no cooking or cleaning.)

First period I taught Playwrighting to a group that ranged in age from 9 to 71. The kids wrote about cowboys and aliens, the older folks learned conflict through scenes of parents and Children.

Second period I took East Coast Swing dancing, and man this year I really got it. For someone who twists in knots whenever I hear the word “choreography” I was out there and freed to just learn the moves and do them in any order I wanted. I Go You Go, inside turn, outside turn to dip, oh man I cant wait to get out on the floor, especially since last year I was still counting steps under my breath. It’s a great coach that gives you not just skills, but the confidence to use them for yourself. And Mark (also the Baker at Raymond’s) made it all so simple: “Ladies you have to let the man lead, lead and follow- so important- that way anything goes wrong it’s his fault… just grant him that illusion of control okay?”

Then lunch, quiet time, go read in the tent, nap.

Then Free time, slip down to the swimmin’ hole in Austin Creek and hope the Crawdads just skip over your feet and don’t snatch your toes. Watch the Boy laboriously get up nerve to climb the rock and jump in or see the Girl struggle with an old rope swing.

Third period I turned back into Mr. Hyde- yelling directions at my 19 beginners doing a 40 minute version of 12th Night. But in the end they had fun and damn it they did Shakespeare. Some of them even understood of what they spoke.

Fourth and final period, singing Gospel with Chelle. ( Oh man. This woman is just the real thing, feelin it so deep but making it so fun and easy- this woman is reason alone to check this camp out. Queen of New Orleans. We sang, we rocked, all of us. The majority being secular Jews from Berkeley but it didn’t matter, we had that room rockin.

Then you play some competitive or not ping pong, I found a guy who could throw a football a mile, ran me ragged, maybe you actually see your kids for a second- though this summer the Girl, now 13, spent a lot of time wearing some lanky blond boy’s sweatshirt and walking past me speedily.

What did I learn at Camp Caz?  (which by the way is the birthplace of Zamboni)

-Being around a lot of strangers can be wonderful, if you aint workin’

-the smaller the kid, the more they seem to love Great Zamboni (which is how I am greeted there several times daily by each small one)

-being inspired and creative is tiring in the best sort of way

-though I feel like a different person in that one week out of the year, that really may be who i’m supposed to be. It’s like me, just more.

-all you can eat food never gets old

-drink a lot of water

-in the real world we’ve got a major shortage of mojo

Thank you Joelle, (camp director)  thank you Redwoods, thank you stars and fires at night, smores and people, most of all, people. And thanks mom, you stole the spotlight with your stories, but i’m still so glad you came.


5 thoughts on “Camp Cazadero

  1. Wow. I am *so* very happy for all of you and if I’m honest, a wee bit jealous too. I went on line to see the website, it looks amazing! The East Coast needs one. Woo-hoo!! Just what you needed. :o)

  2. Jordan’s mom tagged along to CAZ for her first week-long experience. She hasn’t been the same since. Shy by nature, it took her more than a few days to aclimate. But by the end she did.

    She made her bed under the redwoods. Lying on it, she gazed into a cathedral of branches reaching up hundreds of feet. During the week, with the wise help of Joel ben Izzy and the wonderful people in his class, she discovered she was a story teller and that this was really ok. With Evie, she sang her favorite music in harmony. In another music class, forced to read music, she got to sing glee in a group with her much loved granddaughter. And with the supportive art teacher she was introduced to the world of dip pen, stippling, and making ink like they do in China.

    Along the way, she met men and women who opened her eyes wide and gave the gift of their attention and support. But, best of all was watching her son bring Shakespeare alive, catching quick glimpses of her granddaughter entering her teen years with a trumpet blast and her grandson paling around with new friends and adding his quirky humor to Shakespeare.

    My family pushed me into going. I won’t ever stop thanking them.

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