Camp Tamarack Update

December 14, 2020

From: Wade Hobson, Camp Tamarack Onsite Manager

As everyone knows, 2020 was a difficult and challenging year for organized camps everywhere, with camping seasons cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic. Camp Tamarack and our sister camp in Northern California, Camp Cazadero have faced and continue to face extraordinary challenges. 

The year was extra challenging for camps in the path of the devastating Creek Fire which burned in the Sierra National Forest from September 3 until the snows fell in late November. (Technically, it still isn’t contained and continues to smolder under the snow.) Camp Tamarack was not completely spared by the fire, but was saved by firefighters who wrapped the buildings in fire resistant foil and stayed to put out spot fires as they started in camp. The damage included some charring to a tent platform and equipment trailer, a gate post pushed over by a dozer, possible smoke damage to mattresses and extensive damage to the water line which runs about 4000’ from spring boxes in a meadow above the camp through the forest to our water storage tank. We will have to replace about 2000’ of plastic pipe before we can start setting up camp in the spring. 

A USFS forest restoration and fuel reduction program in the area around camp the past two summers thinned the forest in our area and kept the fire out of the crown and at lower intensity. In the future, the forest around Camp Tamarack will be more open and healthier. Other areas nearby were not so fortunate and were devastated. 

When the fire was active, I received many messages and offers to help restore the camp after the fire. At the time, we didn’t know the extent of damage or what help insurance might provide. I’m pleased to say that our insurance has responded in a very fair way and the Conference has received a substantial settlement check. However, we will need a lot of volunteer help in early June to get the water line repaired and the camp opened for the 2021 season. At this writing, the roll out of a vaccine raises optimism that we will be able to have a camping season (with appropriate protocols) at Camp Tamarack in 2021. 

That said, there is still is no end to needs at a church camp in the mountains! We will need a new water heater, tent repairs, wall repair in the shower, hazard tree removal, propane and all the usual expenses of establishing camp for the season. A donor has offered a $500 match to donations to the Conference for Camp Tamarack before December 31. The money can be used for camperships to support sending youth to camp or for camp maintenance needs. In addition, the Morris family is sponsoring an appeal through First Congregational Church Fresno (The Big Red Church) to honor their dad, Bruce L. Morris on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Bruce was an active layman and supporter of the camp and the mountains. Monies raised will be split between camperships and camp maintenance needs. 

If you would like to make a yearend (or any time) donation to the work of Camp Tamarack or Camp Cazadero, it can be made directly to the Conference on the Conference web page, or The Big Red Church. If you can set aside some time to come up in June and help get camp going for 2020, let me know and I’ll be in touch as we get closer. 

Our camping programs touch and change lives in amazing ways. Both Camp Tamarack and Camp Cazadero are worthy of your support in both time and treasure. The Conference web page has options for designating gifts for Camp Caz, Camp Tam and the camping program in general. 

Thank you for all the prayers, good thoughts and expressions of concern when Camp Tam was threatened and we didn’t know if it would survive. We were truly blessed, and will be eternally grateful for the efforts of the fire fighters who saved the camp! 

Seasons greetings and blessings to all. 

Wade Hobson, Camp Tamarack Onsite Manager 


Women’s Book group will discuss ‘Love Beyond Belief’ beginning Jan. 15

A new Women’s Book Discussion Group will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15The book is “Love Beyond Belief: Finding the Access Point to Spiritual Awareness” by the Rev. Dr. Thandeka, a Unitarian Universalist theologian, journalist, and congregational consultant. Thandeka will be the guest speaker at the Interfaith Scholar Weekend, March 1-3.

She was given the Xhosa name Thandeka, which means “beloved,” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1984. She is the founder of Affect Theology, which investigates the links between religion and emotions using insights from affective neuroscience.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said:

“’Love Beyond Belief’ is a hope-filled book reminding us in historical and contemporary terms that we are loved always, even when we feel lost and alone.”

“Love Beyond Belief” is available on Amazon: “Using insights from the brain science of emotions, “Love Beyond Belief: Finding the Access Point to Spiritual Awareness” narrates two millennia of lost-and-found stories about love beyond belief as the access point to the heart and soul of spiritual life. Many of today’s “spiritual but not religious” people — one in four U.S. adults — have found the access point to spiritual experience that Western Christianity lost: unconditional love. “Love Beyond Belief” tracks the history of this lost emotion.”

Robin Carlson, our commissioned minister of Christian education, will guide this discussion, which will go through Feb. 26. Reading assignments are one chapter per week.

If you would like to order a book for $20.75 from the church office, please call 559-435-2690 or email Marilyn ( before Nov. 20. Books are also available on Amazon for $24 (paperback) and for $9.99 (Kindle).

Living the Questions (LTQ) 2.0: Adult Education for the Journey

An Invitation to Journey: Beginning on Sept. 23, we will begin our DVD and discussion gatherings at 9 a.m. in the Conference Room.

Each Sunday morning we will watch a DVD and discuss issues and concepts that may challenge many people’s worldview and understanding of the Divine.  It may, for some, be radically new information.  For others, it will be an affirmation of what they’ve known deep down for a long time.

The intention of this information and discussion is not to provide answers but to expose people to ideas and concepts that may take a while to process.

Sept. 23 — An Invitation to Journey

  • Focus: Faith is not a destination, but a journey

Sept. 30 — Taking the Bible Seriously

  • Focus: The authority one places in the Bible plays a critical role in one’s worldview and understanding of the Christian life.

Oct. 7 — Thinking Theologically

  • Focus:   While family, education, social class, and geography all contribute to how we think about God, our experiences and perceptions along life’s journey also shape our thinking. Being comfortable with ambiguity, metaphor, and uncertainty help us get the Divine “out of the box” and rethink theological ideas that have become barriers to our further spiritual growth.

Oct. 14 — Stories of Creation

  • Focus: How one perceives the creation stories is not only critical to the way one looks at the Bible, but how one understands the purpose of creation, the essence of human nature, and the attitude one takes toward the environment in which we live.

Oct. 21 — Lives of Jesus

  • Focus: From divergent opinions on Jesus’ “program” to the reasons for his having been killed, the many portrayals of Jesus in the gospels, in various traditions, theologies, and the arts, amount to a Jesus who lived many different lives—each of which helps us in teasing out what it means to be a disciple of this mysterious and profoundly significant phenomenon called Jesus of Nazareth.

Oct. 28 — A Passion for Christ: Paul the Apostle

  • Focus: Little of what most people think of as Christianity has been untouched by the legacy of Paul’s writing and influence. The many understandings of his interpretation of Christianity continue to be re-examined in the 21st century.

Nov. 4 — Out into the World: Challenges Facing Progressive Christians

  • Focus: There is a reformation afoot in Christianity—a re-visioning of the traditional understandings of Jesus, the virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, and the Christian life as a whole. Long held ideas of divinity and of faith are changing and evolving to reflect 21st century thought and spirituality. Inspired by these fresh insights, progressive Christians can claim a distinctive voice by being in solidarity with the poor, countering the idolatry of wealth, practicing non-violence, and by seeking justice and inclusivity in a culture dominated by fear.

Nov. 11 — Restoring Relationships

  • Focus: There are three Biblical “macro-stories” that shape the whole of the Biblical narrative: Bondage and Liberation, Exile and Return, Sin and Forgiveness. Each representing a different facet of the human condition, they demonstrate what is necessary for the restoration of relationships on a variety of levels.

Nov. 18 — The Prophetic Jesus

  • Focus: Jesus was a troublemaker. He said and did things that were upsetting to agents of the political and religious domination systems that oppressed the weak and downtrodden. In this way, Jesus stood firmly in the tradition of the prophets of Hebrew Scripture—those who offered a clear and challenging “alternative script” to the status quo.

Nov. 25 — NO LTQ (Thanksgiving Weekend)

Dec. 2 — NO LTQ (Hanging of the Greens)

Dec. 9 — Evil, Suffering & A God of Love

  • Focus: If God is all-powerful, all-loving, and all-good, how do you explain and respond to the existence of so much suffering and evil in the world?

Dec. 16 — The Myth of Redemptive Violence

  • Focus: The most potent religion in Western culture is not Christianity, but a belief in the redemptive power of violence. Although Jesus inaugurated a new order based on partnership, equality, compassion and non-violence, his example and teachings have been eclipsed by an emphasis on a human unworthiness that demands and defends the need for Jesus’ violent, suffering, atoning death.

Dec. 23 — NO LTQ

Dec. 30 — NO LTQ

Jan. 6 — NO LTQ

Jan. 13 — Practicing Resurrection

  • Focus: While much has been made of Jesus’ literal and physical resurrection being the core historical event of Christianity, the Biblical texts themselves present conflicting evidence. For many today, the resuscitation of Jesus’ body is less important than the idea of resurrection as a credible and meaningful principle for living.

DVD speakers include Marcus Borg, Rita Nakashima Brock, Walter Brueggemann, John Dominic Crossan, Yvette Flunder, Amy-Jill Levine, Helen Prejean, John Shelby Spong, just to name of few.

Come and join us on this journey of exploration.

Stewardship Campaign 2017- Pledge Drive Goal Reached!

Our Joyful Giving Stewardship Campaign set a goal to raise $200,000 to secure the vibrancy of our church community. .
  • We have raised $204,640.00 in pledges. Thank you joyful givers!
  • We have reached 102% of pledged dollarsneeded to carry out the wonderful worship services and attain our church maintenance mission.
  • We still have many financial challenges ahead with projected maintenance of our air conditioning units and other expenses. But we also have plans in the works to increase the renting of our facilities and many more fundraising activities.
  • Let us not forget to thank God for the graces bestowed upon us during this time of hope.
Again, thank you to all of you who have made your pledges.

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