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    Camp Chrysalis

    Camp Chrysalis


    • Listing Type: Summer Programs
    • Program Delivery: Residential
    • Provided By: Independent Provider
    • Session Start: June, July
    • Session Length: One Week, Two Weeks, Other
    • Entering Grade: Below 6th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
    • Gender: Coed
    • Category: Traditional Camp
    • Sub-Categories: Animals/Nature
    • Selective: No
    • Ages: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
    • Minimum Cost: $500 - $1,499
    • Career Clusters: Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
    • Credit Awarded: No
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    Camp Chrysalis has developed a distinctive approach to environmental education, offering campers  rich experiences that combine adventure, hiking, crafts and personal growth in three spectacular California environments: Big Sur redwoods, Mendocino coast and Sierra Nevada mountains. 

    Session Descriptions


     We camp in a group site at MacKerricher State Park, near the finest tidepools on the Pacific coast. We explore these tidepools during extreme low tides, rising at dawn to investigate the rich invertebrate and algal life of the inter-tidal zone. We visit spectacular sand dunes to study their unusual ecology, hike coastal terraces to a pigmy forest, and catamaran five miles up the tidal estuary of Big River to a rope swing. Beach games, cooking locally harvested treats (berries, algae and abalone), jewelry making and wood-working highlight our in-camp activities.

    Big Sur

     We camp at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park beneath redwoods and bay laurels, embraced by their ecology.  Our pace is leisurely; we explore the creek bed and the stories it tells, spy on crayfish and lizards, explore redwood fairy rings, and sketch pictures in our journals. We wade through a canyon to swim in itsgorge and hike up another to gaze at a waterfall. We learn about invasive plants and animals and work on projects to help the park. We spend a day at a beach building driftwood houses and swimming in a lagoon. Back at base camp, we carve redwood hiking sticks and design our own T-shirts.


    Our base camp is by Packer Creek in the Tahoe National Forest, near a “warm” pond for swimming. We explore the ecology of the beaver marsh and scramble down the creek to water slides and waterfalls. We practice archery, pan for gold, and enjoy time in the sweat lodge. We hike farther as we acclimate to the elevation, in leisurely tours through meadows of wildflowers to water-filled glacial cirques and up to the wind-blown crest of the Sierra Buttes. At the end of the session, we set off on a gentle backpacking trip for three days, camping and playing beside a small mountain lake.


    From a Sierra trailhead, we’ll rise into the Ansel Adams Wildernessto to visit mountain lakes nestled underneath the shadows of peaks and ranges and climb passes to end up at Tuolomne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. We’ll hike for six days, covering about 36 miles. As we grow familiar with the ecology of the landscape and each other, we’ll connect deeply with this stunning environment. Expect cold lakes, wildflowers, swimming, solo time, a brief thunderstorm, peak ascents, and serious stargazing. This session is for backpackers with some experience!

    Reviews (3)

    • Highly recommend
      stars stars stars stars stars
      Reviewed on Apr/05/2015 by WR

      Genuinely, Camp Chrysalis provides a wonderful experience. I went to the Sierra session three summers in a row before going to the Backpacking session last summer. A tight nit community develops in every session; Camp Chrysalis is about enjoying oneself and one another in a beautiful place away from the city. Camp Chrysalis has not only been fun for me, but it has nurtured a passion for the outdoors. I have grown each time I have attended, comfortable in my place yet challenged to grow and develop in the great variety of activities that go on during a Camp Chrysalis session. A unique combination of hiking, swimming, environmental education, campfire songs, great food, and great people, the experience Camp Chrysalis provides is incomparable to any other. Time spent at Camp Chrysalis is time spent in the best way possible.

    • Only one year in, but excited for more!
      stars stars stars stars stars
      Reviewed on Mar/27/2015 by Cody F

      I went to the Mendocino and Sierra sessions last summer, between 10th and 11th grade. I was a little worried about how quickly I could begin to make friends, but it quickly became apparent that that would not be an issue. I have never so quickly felt at home with a group of people as I did with the campers of both sessions. Aside from the wonderful people, the camp's setting and program was awesome. I've always loved nature, but spending such an extended amount of time in such beauty with other people who appreciate it is something special that I think every kid would benefit from. The food is great, the staff is great, the surrounds are great, and the camp is great. I've signed up for 3 sessions this summer, and I am incredibly excited to return.

    • The Camp C Family
      stars stars stars stars stars
      Reviewed on Mar/27/2015 by Hannah Miller

      I started going to Camp C in the summer of 2010, right before 8th grade. My first session was the Sierra session. From wading through the beaver marsh to the exhilarating hike up to the top of the Sierra Buttes (with a snow-ball fight break on the way up, of course) to late night and early morning creek plunges to nightly song-filled campfires, the 12-day session was day after beautiful day of adventures, and was over much too fast. Every summer since, I have made sure to get my Camp C time in.

      I haven't been to the Big Sur, Mendo or Snow sessions, but I have been to on the Sierra and backpacking sessions multiple times. The Sierra camp is perfect for students nearing the end of middle school and into high school; the expectations are high for campers to participate in activities (woodwork, jewelry-making, campfire singing, hiking, swimming, etc.). Then again, it isn't difficult to motivate kids to explore in such a beautiful setting. There is also a fair amount of free time to play games with other campers, work on crafts, and help out around the camp.

      The backpacking session is more for high school students, not because of the difficulty level of the hiking necessarily but because the number of campers is smaller and the social setting is more mature. Backpacking with a group of 15 requires trust and communication, and as a result the campers get very close.

      One of my favorite parts of these sessions, especially the backpacking session, is their positive effect on my mental health. At camp, there are no phones allowed, no magazines, not computers. There are just trees, dirt, flowing water and friends. With all the time that I spend doing homework and watching TV in the frontcountry, I can use to think about myself and the coming school year when I am at camp. When I return home, I always feel centered and content. The camp organizers understand this effect that nature has on campers, and they make sure to set aside solo times and sharing opportunities.

      The other wonderful part of the session is the people. The group of counselors is small and they return every year for many of the sessions. Campers build a close relationship with the adults on the trips, many of whom are teachers at schools in Berkeley and Oakland and most of whom are camp graduates. The campers, too, tend to come year after year and the camp really becomes a family. The camp is well-organized with food crews and set activities. The counselors, though each with their own distinctive strengths and personalities, are very approachable and engaged.

      One concern that sometimes comes up from prospective families is how easy it will be for new campers to make friends when all the participants and counselors are already long-times friends. When I started camp, I went with a friend who had been doing Camp C for a while, and this way the social aspect was less of a culture shock. However, the campers end up being very friendly, and there are many opportunities for new friendships to be made.