The URJ Camp Newman amphitheater, where Shabbat services are held, once nestled among verdant trees, now sits among their blackened remains. (Photo/Courtesy URJ Camp Newman)
The URJ Camp Newman amphitheater, where Shabbat services are held, once nestled among verdant trees, now sits among their blackened remains. (Photo/Courtesy URJ Camp Newman)

Registration strong for 2018 Camp Newman at Cal Maritime site

Camp Newman officials say registration has been “robust” for sessions next summer, when the beloved Jewish camp will move to California State University Maritime Academy in Vallejo while its Santa Rosa site recovers from the devastating October wildfires.

Camp director Rabbi Erin Mason said today that 420 kids had signed up in the first 48 hours since registration began. Last year, she said, about 500 to 550 campers committed to Camp Newman in the first three weeks after registration opened.

“Registration is incredibly strong. It’s a robust opening for us, right on par with years past,” Mason said. “This is heartwarming to know our enthusiasm for the summer of 2018 is translating to the community.”

Camp administrators and Bay Area Jewish community leaders have been working since the fires destroyed much of the Santa Rosa facility to ensure that camp will be held next summer. Sessions at the Vallejo campus will run from June 17 to Aug. 10, with registration at campnewman.org.

The 89-acre Cal Maritime campus, where some 1,200 students attend classes during the school year, is located about 30 miles northeast of downtown San Francisco and about 50 miles southeast of the fire-ravaged Camp Newman site.

Most of Newman’s buildings were lost in the North Bay wildfires, though a tour of the site by camp officials in mid-October found “miracles” amid the devastation — including the survival of the entrance gate, prayerbooks and tallits, and the wooden Star of David that overlooks the camp from a rocky perch.

The college campus will allow Camp Newman to offer almost all of its traditional activities “and explore new things we can do in a new site,” Mason said, pointing to Cal Maritime’s Olympic-size swimming pool, indoor sand volleyball court, indoor gym and an athletic field surrounded by a track.

Since Camp Newman will have the campus to itself during the summer, officials will be able to name buildings and put up temporary signs. And, just as at the Santa Rosa site, students’ artwork will be featured around campus.

Camp officials were planning to visit the site late this week to pinpoint good hiking trails around Cal Maritime, Mason said.

Rob Gloster

Rob Gloster is J.'s senior writer. He can be reached at rob@jweekly.com.