Popular San Francisco Camp Mather will remain closed all year for COVID

The popular Camp Mather, the city-owned family summer camp in the High Sierra wilderness, will remain closed in 2021 because of COVID-19 risks, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced on Thursday. 

Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg said he knew the announcement would be disappointing for those who had wanted to attend the camp for more than 90 years. 

"We know summers at Camp Mather are very special for San Francisco families. We feel the same way," he said in a statement. "However, the health of our campers and staff are the most important consideration. The COVID-19 transmission risk simply remains too high."

It is the second summer that coronavirus concerns have shut down the 337-acre site, which hosts about 500 campers and 70 employees each week during the summer months.

The department said the shutdowns were made after extensive consultation with health officials in both San Francisco and Tuolumne counties.

But Ginsburg and his team said it's too challenging to run a summer camp with social distancing rules in place as campers share bathrooms, meals and social activities. 

Plus, the department noted Camp Mather’s remote location near Yosemite could present an obstacle to medical care during an outbreak. And Ginsburg noted the spread of the virus and its uncertain forecast in the future has made it difficult to recruit camp employees.

Friends of Camp Mather Board President Eamon Barisone said that he hopes Camp Mather can reopen in 2022.