Lair FAQ

General Questions

What is the Lair?
The Lair of the Golden Bear is the Cal Alumni Association’s magical summer family camp in the central Sierra Nevada. Located just three hours from the Bay Area in beautiful Pinecrest, CA, the three camps that comprise the Lair—Camp Blue, Camp Gold, and Camp Oski—collectively host nearly 10,000 campers of all ages. We provide all lodging, all meals, and an exhaustive array of fun activities for every camper! With activities such as hiking, disc golf, softball, swimming, tennis, pottery, tie-dye, paddle boating, and campfire shows, to mention but a few, there is a very special vacation experience behind every tree!
What are the differences between the three camps: Blue, Gold, and Oski?
All three camps are similar to each other with many of the same facilities and programming. Each camp has staff shows, camper talent shows, age group activities, guest speakers, swimming pools, Kub Korrals, art, hiking, and music programs. 
The primary difference between the camps is the size and the layout: Camps Blue and Gold are very similiar to each other, as each accommodates about 325 campers in tent/cabins that are randomly located throughout the camp. Both Blue and Gold have tennis courts—Oski doesn’t, yet Oski campers can use the tennis courts at Blue or Gold. During the week at Blue and Gold, campers of all ages enjoy athletic tournaments and games, such as tennis, basketball, horseshoes, bridge, backgammon, trivial pursuit, etc., and strive to win the wonderful little Lair trophies which are presented at the Friday evening campfire show. Camps Blue and Gold also compete against each other each week in softball and in volleyball—no trophies, just glory. Camp Oski’s tent/cabins are arranged in circles, and each tent circle has a fire pit in the center, providing an ideal camping atmosphere (great for making night time s’mores!). Camp Oski is smaller, holding about 145 campers, and has a large beautiful pool, but no tennis courts and no tournaments. Oski has the same great children’s programs and campfire traditions as Blue and Gold, and a higher staff to camper ratio.
Are pets allowed?
Sorry, no pets are allowed at the Lair. But our sister property, Pinecrest Chalet, does allow pets. You can stay at the Chalet and visit friends at the Lair for a daily rate. See details below.
Will my cellphone have reception?
There is limited cellphone coverage at the Lair. Some cell services, such as Verizon, work in certain areas of camp, however, others get very little or no reception.
What guest services are available?
  • Ice (at no cost) for your coolers
  • Daily mail delivery and pick up
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Weekly creekside service
  • Limited business center
  • Laundromat
  • Daily mail service
  • Pay phones
  • Limited wheelchair access (please call for details)
Is there a camp store?
Our store will carry a supply of snacks, sodas, and ice cream. We also offer a wide variety of Lair and Cal shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, and hats, as well as post cards, stamps, and selected art supplies (clay, tiles, and white t-shirts). At Camps Blue and Gold each night, we open our Burger Shacks where campers can purchase burgers (meat and veggie), fries, sodas, and various other snacks should an evening night craving arise. Small denomination bills are always appreciated. Credit cards (MasterCard and Visa) are also accepted.

I’m not a Cal grad. May I still camp at the Lair?
Yes! We do require one attending adult in each tent to be a Cal Alumni Association member, and you do not need to be a Cal grad to join—membership is open to the public. Learn how to join »
What are the tents and other amenities like?
Your Lair home is a simple yet cozy tent cabin, consisting of wooden sides and floors, with a canvas top. “Rustic” certainly defines our cabin amenities, which include twin-size metal frame beds with mattresses (you bring your own bedding), a shelving unit, an electric light, and an outlet. Modern toilet and shower buildings are conveniently located just steps from your tent. In addition, Bosch Hall (in Camp Oski) has a limited number of indoor motel-like rooms (without bath) for those who prefer alternative lodging.

What are Lair meals like?
You won’t go hungry at the Lair. We serve 3 meals a day, family style. There’s a lot to chose from, and peanut butter and jelly is always available.
Can you accommodate special dietary needs?
We can accommodate some special diets, including vegetarians, yet please contact us in advance of any special dietary needs. We also suggest you check-in with our cooks upon your arrival to discuss how we can best assist.
What are the wristbands and why must campers wear them?
For safety, security and emergency purposes, the Lair needs to know who’s in camp with us each day, and thus we provide and require all campers and guests of campers to wear a Lair wristband. Campers with reservations will receive their wristbands in their welcome packet upon arrival at camp, and guests may sign-up at the camp stores and receive their wristband upon registering.
Is there internet access at the Lair?
Limited wireless internet is available for web browsing and email only. The signal is available only in and around the Lodges at Blue and Gold, the Dining Hall at Oski, and up at the Vista Lodge. We would prefer you only use this service if necessary and enjoy the beautiful outdoors and family fun while you are here.

How to Book a Tent

Can I book a tent if I don’t have an email address?
If you do not have an email address, we suggest you identify a close friend or family member who can receive our emails on your behalf. All forthcoming correspondence will be sent to that email address—there will be no more paper correspondence sent regarding your reservation.
What if I have difficulties making my booking or logging into my account?
Contact the Lair office »
I camped last summer and want my same tent back in the same week for this summer, will I get it?
Yes. If you had a renewable tent last summer, you may camp again in this same tent, same session for this summer if you submit your booking by February 28.
What’s a renewable tent?
A renewable tent is one that a family has the right to camp in again the following summer provided the family signs up before the February 28 deadline. Most tents at the Lair are renewable to families.
What would be a non-renewable tent?
Non-renewable tents are those which the family does not have the right to return to the next summer. Families who camp in non-renewable tents are apprised of this and accept it before being booked. The following summer if they book prior to February 28, they will have a higher priority than new campers to get a renewable tent.
I camped last summer, but I want to move to a different tent or switch to another week. How will that work?
All tent or session change requests will be included in our new Lair reservation lottery. Returning campers who request a change and had a renewable tent can be assured they’ll get their last summer’s tent back if they don’t get a requested change, provided they rebook by February 28.
What’s the new Lair reservations lottery?
The lottery is our booking system to assign tents based on availability.
How does the lottery work?

The lottery will be run in early March and tents will be assigned based on availability after returning campers have signed up by February 28. ALL campers interested in getting a tent for this summer should book by February 28 for best chances. For booking requests placed on or before February 28, the priority is as follows:
  1. Camped in a renewable tent last summer and are requesting a tent or week change (yet these campers can still be assured they’d get last summer’s tent back if they don’t get their requested change).
  2. Submitted a reservation last summer but didn’t get a renewable tent (such as Wait Listed campers)—these campers will have the second highest priority in the lottery
  3. Didn’t send in a reservation last summer and want to camp!
Who will be included in the lottery?
The lottery is for those campers who:
  • First Priority—Requests for tent or week changes by last summer’s campers who were in renewable tents will have top priority for the tents that are open after the February 28 deadline. These campers may also request to keep their tent from last summer in case they don’t get their tent change request(s).
  • Second Priority—Campers who were on the Wait List last summer and did not get to camp as well as families in non-renewable tents will have next priority through the lottery system.
  • Third Priority—Campers who didn’t camp last summer.
Campers who had a renewable tent last summer and wish to camp again in the same tent, same session for this summer can do so provided a booking request is submitted by February 28. These campers will bypass the lottery and be rebooked into the same tent and session.

Making a Booking Request

How can I increase my chances to get a tent this summer?
  • Pick a session that typically has openings—our early and late summer sessions have the most openings (i.e. Family Mini-Weeks, Family Camp Week 2 or Family Camp Week 11).
  • You can also request another summer session as one of your first preferences, and then for your 4th and/or 5th choice select Any Area, Any Tent during Family Mini-Weeks, Family Camp Week 2 or Family Camp Week 11, if you can camp then.
  • Be sure one of your requests is for Any Camp, Any Area, Any Tent if you are seeking a specific week or weeks to increase the likelihood of camping those dates.
  • The less specific your request, the higher the likelihood that you will get a tent.
We have several families that all want to camp together—how do we do book that?
  • Decide upon a name for your group (i.e. the Mike Yaley Group) to identify yourselves. When you book, you will enter this group name under Special Requests.
  • Each family in the group should submit an online reservation and make the exact same booking requests, with everyone using the same group name.
  • The Mini-Week and 2nd Week are your best bets for getting several tents in the same camp, and be sure to submit your online booking request by February 28.
  • Also, be sure your last request is Any Area, Any Tent for a specific session—the less specific you are in your requests, the higher the likelihood you’ll get tents.
If the lottery does not initially book everyone in the group into the same camp and session, you can request to be on the Wait List, and this group name will then be our way to match you with the group as we get cancellations and changes.
What if our family needs more than one tent?
This new reservation system is programmed for one tent per booking request. If you have a large family and need more than one tent, you must submit a separate booking request for each tent using a different primary camper for each booking. You can follow the same guidelines above as if camping as a group for best results to get tents in the same session.
When will the lottery be run?
The lottery will be run in early March, so it’s important to submit your booking request by February 28. Booking requests made after February 28 are subject to availability, and after this date there is no priority for returning campers.
What if I’m late in signing up for the lottery?
Unfortunately our system is unforgiving and we will not be able to include you in the lottery or rebook your same tent after February 28. You will still have an opportunity after the lottery has been run to either book an open tent or get on the Wait List for an opening.
I need to take a year off—can I get my tent back next summer?
Unfortunately we cannot accommodate campers taking a year off. If you wish to find another family on your own to use your renewable tent this summer, you may do so by booking your reservation online by February 28, and entering the subletting family’s names and contact information as the campers.
Important! keep your name and contact information as the primary camper, so the reservation is still in your name and next year the tent is available for you to rebook and camp! If you do sublet your tent this summer, please note that as the primary camper, you will still be responsible for booking on time and for final payment on time.
I hear it’s hard to get into the Lair as a new camper—any suggestions?
We have new campers every week at the Lair. If you submit your online booking request by February 28, new campers have a good chance of getting a tent if you have some flexibility on when and where you can camp. And you’re sure to get a tent if you can camp in the early or late summer weeks (i.e. Family Mini-Weeks, Family Camp Week 2, or Family Camp Week 11). The sessions in the middle of the summer are typically tougher to get into as a new camper, but we do get openings and cancellations during those popular weeks, therefore we encourage you to request a mid-summer session if you can’t join us for an earlier session. If you don’t get your request once the lottery has run, you can request to be on the Wait List. We book many families from the Wait List due to cancellations.
My family camped at the Lair a few years ago, but we didn’t attend last summer—will we have a good chance of getting a tent this summer?
Yes—while not guaranteed, if you book by Feb. 28, you’ll have a good chance of getting a tent again. Your best bet for getting a tent this summer is to select an earlier session (such as the Mini-Week or 2nd Week). If you only wish to camp in a specific camp and week, it’s worth submitting a booking for that request as we do get openings and those will be filled using a lottery. Additionally, we get cancellations throughout the spring and summer, so if you don’t get your request once the lottery has run, you can request to be added to the Wait List. We book many families from the Wait List due to cancellations.

Confirmations and Payments

When will I know if I got a tent or new tent assignment?
Confirmations will be emailed out in mid-March to remind you to check your online account for your tent assignment. If you did not receive a tent through the lottery, you will be notified of this as well, with an option to be put on the Wait List or to cancel your reservation and receive a full refund.
If you requested a tent change, but were rebooked into your current tent, you can request to be put on the Wait List and will be notified should that tent open up. Details on this process will be included in your confirmation email.
Will I also receive a paper confirmation of my tent booking?
No—all future correspondence regarding your reservation will be sent via email only. Please be sure you provide us your best email address, and if you change your email address, please remember to update it in your online Lair profile.
Is my payment secure?
Yes, we’re using a secure website to accept online payments, and we accept VISA, MasterCard and American Express. Please note debit cards may not work due to transaction limits.
When is my final payment due?
Final payments for all Lair family camp and College Prep Camp sessions are due May 1. Unpaid reservations are subject to cancellation.

Wait List

How does the Wait List work?

If you do not get a tent through our lottery system, you can request to be put on our Wait List. As we get cancellations throughout the spring and summer, this list is used extensively to book families into those newly open tents so we encourage you to stay on the list as long as possible. Our office will contact you by phone as soon as a space becomes available. The entire deposit will be refunded to families we are unable to accommodate, and you may cancel at any time off the Wait List and receive a full refund.

If you didn’t get a tent, you might want to consider staying at Pinecrest Chalet, just up the road from the Lair. If you stay at the Chalet, you can purchase a daily pass to come into the Lair for meals, facilities use and to participate in all the Lair activities, including age group programs. Contact the Chalet at 209.965.3276.

It’s after February 28 and I’d like to camp at the Lair this summer—is that possible?
Yes! After February 28, you can book any open tent by selecting any session you’d like and directly book any open tent. If there is not a tent available for the session you prefer, you can get on the Wait List for specific camp sessions by calling the Lair office at 510.900.8255, and putting down a deposit. We will notify you by phone if we get a cancellation and can book you into a tent.

Cancellations

What if I need to cancel my reservation?
Cancellations need to be made online. Log in to our online reservations system and select “My Bookings” and delete your reservation. Cancellations are subject to cancellation fees.
 Read our full cancellation policy »
I’m on the Wait List, and want to cancel—what do I do?
Send us an email to lair@alumni.berkeley.edu. This will serve as your written cancellation and we’ll issue a full refund anytime you wish to cancel from the Wait List.

Guest Policies

I’d like my friend to join us in our tent for a few nights—how does this work?
This is called an Overnight Guest Pass. Guests who will be staying in your tent for a night or partial week must be pre-registered. You can sign them up by contacting the Lair office in advance. Your guests can enjoy meals and all Lair activities. See our Rates page for pass pricing.
Could we stay at the Chalet and come in and participate at the Lair each day?
Yes! You can sign up for a Daily Guest Pass. Guests staying offsite (such as at the Pinecrest Chalet) and wishing to join us for meals and activities (including age group activities) can do so by signing up at the Blue Office or at any of the camp stores and buy a Daily Guest Pass. Click here for Rates.
We have friends who will visit us just for a day—how would they pay?
They would need to sign up for a Daily Guest Pass (see above) so they could join us for meals and activities (including age group activities). Sorry, we don’t offer partial day passes.