SFFMC Summer Gatherings

SFFMC Summer Gatherings!

Since 2021, we have held summer holiday weekend gatherings at Camp Herms, a 20-acre camp high in the El Cerrito hills, on the weekends of Memorial Day, “July 4”, and Labor Day. Many have come to our gatherings at Camp Herms, mostly for day use, and they loved it!

In 2024, we will return to Camp Herms for our “July 4” and Labor Day weekend gatherings. 

Please note that Camp Herms will not be available to us on Memorial Day weekend this year, so we are planning a gathering that weekend at Cedar Rose Park in Berkeley, 1300 Rose Street (near the North Berkeley BART station) from 12 noon to 8:30 pm Saturday May 25 and Sunday May 26.  (Please note the change of location!)  We will be at picnic area #1. The park has a large grassy area and there should be room to spread out to play music, although we cannot schedule workshops. You are welcome to bring pot luck food to share, and bring a chair for yourself if you want to be sure of a place to sit. We’ll have a donation can on the table. Dress appropriately for the weather that day! In case of rain, we can have a jam at Hali Hammer’s home, 1609 Woolsey Street in Berkeley, about 1 1/2 miles from the park. Contact Hali at halih@yahoo.com or call/text (510) 717-7017.

More info about our Camp Herms gatherings is below.

Our 2023 Labor Day weekend event went from 1 pm on Friday afternoon, September 1 until 3 pm on Monday, September 4.  (Those who come early on Friday or stay late on Monday are asked to help with setup/breakdown.)

Our 2023 Memorial Day weekend event ran from Friday May 26 until Monday May 29.  Our “July 4” weekend event was was a slightly shorter camp, from 6 pm on Friday June 30 until the evening of Sunday July 2.

Directions to Camp Herms: The camp address is 1100  James Place, El Cerrito.  From the “Circle” in Berkeley, follow Arlington Blvd. for about 2+ miles. Pass Arlington Park in El Cerrito, about 0.6 miles north of Moeser Lane, then turn right off Arlington Blvd. onto Thors Bay Road, then right into the camp at 1100 James Place.  (Or use directions from Google Maps.)

RATES for 2023 were: Adults: $25/night per person. Day use rate for adults: $15/person per day.  Kids under 15:  $10 for day use, $10 per night.

REGISTRATION: We strongly encourage all who come to camp to be fully vaccinated and boosted for covid-19.  Please bring masks for everyone in your group; depending on pandemic circumstances at the time of camp they may be required indoors.

There is no pre-registration or pre-payment.  Please bring cash or checks made out to SFFMC. Registration will be opposite the Lodge (Main Hall). Look to the right after you come in the gate for the sign: REGISTER HERE—SFFMC. Parking for registration can be near the registration table, or in the parking lot across from the Lodge.

You don’t need to be a club member to attend, but you’re welcome to join before or at camp!  Membership forms (new members and renewals) will be available at the registration table and are online at https://www.sffmc.org/join-us .

Please note that changes in our plans for these gatherings might be necessary if the Covid-19 situation changes or if the air is unhealthy due to smoke.  If that happens, we will put out the word as widely as we can. We encourage you to occasionally check the website for possible changes.

ACTIVITIES:  workshops, open mics, and informal singing and playing sessions.

WORKSHOPS: Anyone can lead a workshop. Hour-long workshops will go from 11 am to 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday with some extra time in case they run a bit over: 11-12:30, 12:30-2, 2-3:30, 3:30-5, 5-6. There will be two workshops in each of these time frames. We now set up some workshops in advance of camp.  Email Daniel Hersh at hrshsand@earthlink.net if you are interested in leading one. Please include subject and time preferred. These will be posted on our website and advertised on the Harmony e-list.  One workshop per person please.

You may also sign up to lead a workshop after you get to camp if there are spots left.  A sign-up board will be located near registration.

These are the workshops that were scheduled in advance for our Labor Day 2023 weekend gathering:

Saturday September 2, 2023
11:00 am: Slow jam including waltz book waltzes (hosts: Karen Chester and Nancy Gendel)

12:30 pm: Quebecois tune session (host: David Brown)

2:00 pm: Old-time (and more) tune session  (host: Dinah Stroe)

3:30 pm: Irish tune session  (hosts: Alina Larson and Valerie Rose)
3:30 pm: xxx lowdown dirty song workshop (pristine to vulgar, all ok) (host: Yvette Tannenbaum)

5:00 pm: Animal songs workshop (host: Wendy Silk)

Sunday September 3, 2023
2:00 pm: In Harmony’s Way song circle (host: Jim Partridge)
3:30 pm: Songs of John Prine (host: Ed Hilton)

OPEN MICS: Sign up at registration to perform or emcee. No outdoor music after 10:00 p.m.

JAMS: Around camp during the day, but only in the lodge after 10:00 p.m.

THE LODGE: The Lodge will be a shelter for day use in case of inclement weather or a good place to jam. A disabled access ramp is located at one end of the Lodge deck.  The lodge has the following facilities:
•  The Main Hall is a large room with a stage. Evening open mics will be held in this room; it is available for other activities at other times.
•  The North Room has a capacity of about forty-five and available for jamming or other activities at all times.
•  Two restrooms.
•  There is an additional, smaller third room by the restrooms which might work for small music gatherings or quiet activities.
•  A large kitchen, with large stoves, microwave, refrigerators and a freezer. We can use the plates, pans, silverware and serving utensils. WE MAY USE THE KITCHEN, BUT WE MUST KEEP IT CLEAN. Two propane barbecues are available behind the kitchen.

RV CAMPING: RVs are welcome; they can park in the parking lot across from the Lodge, but no hookups are available.

TENT CAMPING: There is space available for tents in all the following areas:
•  The Redwood Grove: a large fairly even lot about the size of a football field on a residential street in the El Cerrito Hills, down a hill from the camp lodge. There is a bathroom building at one end. You may drive in to unload or load, but please move your car to the parking lot as soon as possible. Do not drive on areas with wood chips or you may get stuck.
•  The Archery Range: at the back of the Quarry, this is the only tent camping area that’s on the same elevation as the lodge. (One streetlight in the Quarry stays on all night, but it is not by the Archery Range.)
•  The Rim Campsites: These six campsites, well up the hill from the lodge, are unimproved and somewhat level areas with no toilet facilities. They are located along the Camp Herms property line and some are quite close to nearby houses.

Please note: The Dogpatch cabins (uphill from the lodge) will not be available to us for our July and September gatherings this year after being damaged in last winter’s storms.  We have been told that they will be removed and rebuilt.

SPECIAL NEEDS: There will be camping spots available adjacent to the parking lot. Please let us know in advance if you need specific accommodations so we can be prepared to make your stay as comfortable as possible.

•  Access to the Rim sites is by either a footpath or a fairly steep unpaved maintenance road. We may not drive on the maintenance road or footpaths.
•  Due to high fire danger, no wood campfires will be permitted. The camp has a propane powered “fire pit” which we can use, but it is not suitable for cooking.

VERY IMPORTANT: The camp has neighbors along the borders of the camp, so all music after 10:00 p.m. must be inside the Lodge with the windows and doors closed. Any conversation and activity after 10 pm must be quiet outdoors. Because of Covid-19, we may have to require social distancing of 6 feet.

PLEASE NOTE: Since this camp is in a developed area adjacent to streets and houses and it has no gate, it is not a secure location.  Neighbors use the camp as a walking area and may wander through while we are there.  Because of this, we strongly recommend that instruments and other valuables not be left unattended at camp.

REGULATIONS: Since this is a Boy Scout camp, we must follow their rules, including: no pets, no alcohol, no smoking, no sleeping in the Lodge, no music outside after 10:00 p.m. All required chores must be done before we leave. A list will be at camp.

CHORES: All attendees will be asked to sign up for a choreAll overnight attendees over 12 need to do at least an hour of duty per camp: registration or cleanup of Lodge, kitchen, Lodge bathrooms and all campsites, instrument check, and other duties as needed. (Extra hours are appreciated, especially for cleanup.) Please sign up at the registration table right after arriving. If you can’t show up for your chore, leave a note at registration so we can cover the time. Last-day cleanup help is especially needed. You can park in the lot until you are finished with cleanup; just vacate your campsite on time.

Day use campers are asked to contribute ½ hour of time per camp, unless you are coming for only a few hours.

We need to clean up the camp before we leave.

Since Camp Herms is not a fully secure location, we ask that you please do not publicize this event outside folk music circles.  

Questions about camp?  Email Hali Hammer at halih@yahoo.com .