The spirit of rural Tuolumne County came to the Bayview District Sunday, as the SF Rec and Parks Department celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the founding of San Francisco's furthest-flung park, the popular Mather Family Camp.

Some San Francisco institutions are not in San Francisco. For instance, San Francisco International Airport is located in Millbrae. On a much less breathtaking note, SF County Jail No. 3 is in San Bruno. And on a much more breathtaking note, SF Rec and Parks’ Camp Mather is 180 miles away in Tuolumne County, near Yosemite National Park. But it's a popular camping destination for SF families, with its highly sought-after reservation system creating lengthy wait lists.


Camp Mather will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding this coming summer, technically on July 5. But the Chronicle reports that the official Camp Mather 100th anniversary party was Sunday, though held right here in San Francisco at Bayview’s Southeast Community Center, though with a taste of Camp Mather-esque activities like archery, a rock-climbing wall, disco golf, food trucks and historical talks.

“With all of our kids, if you said, ‘Do you want to go to Disneyland, Hawaii or Camp Mather, they always pick Camp Mather,” longtime Camp Mather camper Tom Barisone told the Chronicle. “Even my granddaughter, who is 3.”

The centennial celebration was held months in advance, so none of the campers who had reservations for other weeks this summer would have to miss out on their centennial summer trip.

Camp Mather, also known as Mather Family Camp, started as a camp for construction workers building the Hetch Hetchy Dam, and was converted into a family camp in 1924. The city of San Francisco bought it the following  year. It’s now home to 90 cabins and 20 tent sites. It takes reservations for 10 weeks of the summer, with each week accommodating 500 guests.

The camp also offers outdoor basketball courts and tennis courts, fishing, and swimming. And it famously still has a pay phone booth, because you don’t really get wi-fi way out there.  

Those reservations are always gobbled up fast, and Camp Mather is currently booked up for summer 2024. Even the waiting list is full. But you can maybe hope to book reservations for its 101st season, as the lottery for those slots will be in January 2025.

Related: Berkeley Tuolumne Camp Set to Reopen in June, Nine Years After Being Destroyed in Wildfire [SFNews]

Image: San Francisco Recreation and Park Department Camp Mather via Facebook