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Lair FAQs

Get answers to your questions about the Lair. Don’t see your question here? Email us at or give us a call at 510.900.8255.

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. Yet you don’t need to be a Cal alum to camp at the Lair. 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 endless array of fun activities for every camper! With activities such as hiking, 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 Camp Blue, Camp Gold, and Camp 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, Cub Corrals, art, hiking, and music programs. The primary difference between the camps is the size and the layout: Camp Blue and Camp Gold are very similar to each other, as each accommodates about 325 campers in tent cabins located throughout the camp. Both Blue and Gold have tennis courts, while Oski doesn’t, but 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 shows. 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 165 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.
Will my cell phone have reception?
There is limited cell phone coverage at the Lair. Some cell services such as Verizon work in certain areas of camp, but others get very little to no reception. We do have free, limited wifi so you can be in touch when you need to. Vista Lodge typically has the strongest signal, yet we are in the mountains and wifi is not 100% reliable. If you need to do scheduled work at camp, and thus will need more reliable access, you can drive down the hill and use the wifi at Starbucks in Sonora.
I’m not a Cal grad—can I still camp at the Lair?
Yes! We do require at least one attending adult in each tent for week-long sessions to be a member of the Cal Alumni Association (CAA). CAA membership is not required for any of our adult sessions or Family Weekends. You do not need to be a Cal graduate to join CAA. To become a CAA member, please call 888.CAL.ALUM.
What are the tent cabins and 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. You can read more about our accommodations here.

We also have new year round cabins at Camp Oski! These cabins are heated, has its own bathroom, and sleeps up to 6 people, with a queen bed, bunk bed, and three single beds in the loft.
Does the Lair have an Emergency Action Plan?
Yes. You can view our Emergency Action Plan here, and a printed Emergency Action Plan is posted outside of every tent cabin at the Lair.

How to Book a Tent

I'm a returning 2023 camper - how do I rebook my tent from last summer?
You can read a step-by-step guide of how to rebook your tent here.
I'm a new or past camper - how can I book a tent for this summer?
You can read a step-by-step guide of how to book a tent here.
I camped last summer and want my same tent, in the same week for this summer—will I get it?
If you had a renewable tent last summer, you may camp again in the same tent, same session the next 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 by 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 booking. 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 re-book by February 28.
What’s the 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 (these campers can still be assured they’ll get last summer’s tent back if they don’t get their requested change(s)).
2. Submitted a reservation last summer but did not 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 the following campers:
First Priority—Requests for tent or week changes by last summer’s campers 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.

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 (with no new requests) can do so provided a booking request is submitted by February 28. These campers will bypass the lottery and be re-booked 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 Camp Weeks 10 and 11).

If you are a new camper, be open on tent location by selecting “Any Area, Any Tent” from the drop down options after you select your week and camp preference so that you’ll be considered for any tent that opens during your week preference.

The less specific your request, the higher the likelihood that you will get a tent.
What if I'm unsure of what session I want?
You have until February 28 to decide. On March 1, we close our system to run the lottery, and any changes made from March 1 on are subject to our cancellation policy. We manually review all booking requests, and we assume that any preferences you list, you are interested in. If we are unable to fulfill your requests, you will receive a refund, or can opt to be placed on our wait list. If we are able to accommodate any of your requests, then you are subject to our cancellation policy.
What if I'm unsure of who will be camping in my tent?
Because of our updated cancellation policy, please only enter the names of campers in to your booking request who you are 100% confident will be camping. If you are unsure of anyone’s availability (and we know that’s it’s sometimes hard to plan months ahead) please do not enter them in to your booking until you are sure they will be attending. You can add the total number of campers, but only add in the names of those campers who you are certain will be attending. Please see our full Cancellation Policy, as well as information about our Trip Insurance offerings.
We have several families who 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 in the "Group" box. You can also add more details about what you’re seeking 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.

Weeks 2 and 10 are your best bets for getting several tents in the same camp. 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 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 account for each booking. You can follow the same guidelines as above if camping as a group for best results to get tents in the same session.
When will the lottery run?
The lottery will 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 automated and we will not be able to include you in the lottery or re-book 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 hear it’s hard to get into the Lair as a new camper—any suggestions?
It’s not hard! 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 Camp Week 10 or 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 another 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 February 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. 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 re-booked 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.
What if I don't like my tent assignment?
The Lair Reservations Team proofs every tent assigned through the lottery to be sure it aligns with your online booking request. We can’t always accommodate your first or second choice — though we try! If you provide other tent or session options in your booking request, we assume those are other options you would accept. If you are assigned a tent that matches any of the five options you select in your online booking request, you will be subject to our Cancellation Policy. We don’t assign a camper a tent that wasn’t included in their booking request.

There are occasions where there may be an option you didn’t select, but that we think you might prefer over being on the Wait List. In these cases, we will always contact you in advance so you can decide if you’d like our offer or not. If you accept our new option, you will be subject to our Cancellation Policy; if you pass on the option, the Cancellation Policy is not in effect and you can remain on the Wait List. If you don’t have a tent and wish to stay on the Wait List, we hold your deposit. If you have not been assigned a tent, at any point you may request to come off the Wait List and we will refund your deposit in full.

If you get assigned a tent that wasn’t one of your top choices but still one of your choices, we expect that you’ll accept this tent, and our Cancellation Policy described above will apply. Even when you accept this tent, you can also request to be on the Wait List for your top choice. If one of your top choices opens up, we will notify you first to confirm that you’d still like to switch tents.

If you can’t camp a specific session, please DO NOT include that session in your booking request. To help us better understand what you are seeking, please share as much additional information as you like in the Special Request box. We unfortunately can’t contact campers in advance of tent assignments or all the various options, so the more information you provide us in your booking request as to what you’ll accept, the better we can understand what you want and hopefully get that for you!
Is my payment secure?
Yes, we use a secure website to accept online payments, and we accept VISA, MasterCard, and American Express. Please note that debit cards may not work due to transaction limits.
When is my final payment due?
Final payments for all Lair 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 will be placed 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 tent becomes available. The entire deposit will be refunded to families we are unable to accommodate, and you may remove yourself from the wait list and receive a full refund.

If you didn’t get a tent, you might want to consider staying offsite at a motel in the Pinecrest area, and then purchasing daily passes to come into the Lair for meals, facilities, and to participate in all the Lair activities, including age group programs. Contact our office at 510.900.8255 to purchase daily passes.
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.


What if I need to cancel my reservation?
Cancellations can be done online, or send us an email confirming you wish to cancel. 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 for more details. We strongly recommend trip insurance as a way to be reimbursed if you need to cancel your stay with us. Details are included on our policy page.
I’m on the wait list, and want to cancel—what do I do?
Email us at This will serve as your written cancellation and we’ll issue a full refund anytime you wish to remove yourself from the wait list.
What if the Lair cancels my session?
If the Lair must cancel your session, we will refund you. You can view our Policy Page for more details our cancellation policy.
How can I learn more about trip insurance?
Please see our Policy Page for more details about trip insurance. It's affordable and we strongly recommend it as a way to be reimbursed should you unexpectedly need to cancel.