Oakland Feather River Camp History

Oakland Feather River Camp opened in 1924 on federal land under a long-term lease agreement with the US Department of Agriculture. The Camp has been operated continuously since that time, even during WWII when some thought the program should be suspended during that difficult time. The perseverance of loyal campers and City of Oakland officials prevailed, however, and the Camp continued to serve the children and families “at home.” In fact, a surprisingly large number of campers from that era still cover to Camp every year.

Though camper attire may have changed over the last 80 years and campers have traded in their canteens for water bottles, much is still the same at Feather River. Traditions abound such as swimming in the swimming hole, singing around the campfire, participating in the camper show at the Starr Bowl, and dancing on the Veranda.

Until the late 50’s, not all campers upheld the tradition of comparing drive-times from the Bay Area. Many campers arrived at Camp via the train that let them off right inside the Camp. You can still hear the trains passing the Camp.

Camps in Common History

2002: Harry Edwards, then Director for Oakland Parks and Recreation proposed that Feather River Camp be closed. Judi Marquardt-Norris, longtime camper, and Jill Rose, director of Camp It Up!, began individually to talk with City Council members about the importance of keeping the camp open. Judi and Jill met and began to work together. A number of City Council members suggested that they might think about operating the camp.

2003: Harry Edwards again proposed that the camp be closed. A group of campers got together and formed an action group to work to keep the camp open. Terry Cullinane, a member of that group, became very active in that process. Terry, Judi, and Jill decided to form a non-profit organization to begin operating the camp. Camps in Common (CIC) was born.

When the City suddenly pulled out on June 5th of 2003, CIC was named FRC Operators – effective immediately! The task before CIC was daunting, but with the assistance of the FRC staff, city employees, and a group of helpful campers, CIC pulled it out.

2004: Judi, Jill and Terry shared tasks and spent many weeks that summer up at camp.

2005: CIC began long-range planning, putting administrative plans in place, such as soliciting a Board of Directors and setting up systems of operations in line with the By-Laws of the organization. Judi stepped down. Jill continued as a board member. Terry became the Executive Director. Board members Nate Miley, Christopher Brown, Katrina Brekke-Miesner, and Lily Myers Kaplan stepped in to serve on the Board.

2005 – 2007: CIC proceeded with Terry taking on the roles of both Executive Director & Camp Manager. At the end of the 2007 camp season Terry resigned both positions and Board member Lily Kaplan stepped in as Interim Executive Director.

2008: CIC clarifies the mission and vision of the organization, and sets standards in place to solidify a smoothly running organization. CIC institutes a fundraising process to bring underserved youth to camp and focuses on creating vital programs serving youth and families.

2009: Measure WW passed by the voters and approved by the City of Oakland, allocating $500,000 to Oakland Feather River Camp for health and safety improvements. Funds are allocated for projects such as new roads throughout camp, increased water supply, improved waste removal systems, and new ADA accommodations throughout camp.

2011: Lily Kaplan resigns as Executive Director. The CIC Board of Directors hires Billy Dannals to serve as the 3rd and next Executive Director of Camps In Common. Lloyd Lewis, Oakland Parks and Recreation Camp Caretaker retires after 32 years of service to camp.

2012: Project WW work begins. The new septic system is installed in upper camp.  Cabin A is made handicap accessible, with a sidewalk and new deck. New grease traps and plumbing is installed in the Chow Palace. A new walking path is constructed from Cabin A to the Nurse’s station. ADA accessible bathrooms are installed in the Chow Palace. A temporary ramp is installed in front of the dining hall to make it ADA accessible.

2013: Project WW work is nearly completed. The patio is demolished and repaved to meet ADA guidelines. A new 10,000 gallon water tank is installed. The asphalt road from the entrance of camp into camp and down the hill and back out of camp was demolished and repaved. The last project to be completed is removing the existing Veranda deck and installing a new deck.

2014: The Board of Camps In Common and Friends of Oakland Feather River Camp celebrate Oakland Feather River Camp’s 90th Anniversary.

2015: Lloyd Lewis, long time camp caretaker, passed away.  Michael (Slim) Lange, long-time camp manager, also passed away. The City of Oakland provides camp a one-time grant of $40,000.

2016: After 5 summers of service, Billy Dannals resigns as Executive Director.

2017:  CIC Board of Directors hires Mark Olson as CIC’s 4th Executive Director.

Camps in Common (CIC) is in its fifteenth year of operating Feather River Camp, the longest-running Oakland recreation program. We are pleased with the progress we have made. We continue to learn and grow as we move forward in partnership with the Oakland Department of Parks & Recreation to keep Oakland Feather River Camp open!

The Camps in Common Board of Directors oversees governance of the organization. The organization’s day-to-day operations of Oakland Feather River Camp are managed by an Executive Director. Board members, year-round and seasonal staff, and an army of dedicated volunteers are committed to serving the mission of CIC and OFRC and work tirelessly to help realize our vision each year.