Camp Mather

Women by a campfire
Kids riding bikes
Woman riding a horse
Pile of logs by trees
Kids and adults at an archery range
Two people paddleboarding
Kids participating in a sack race
Youth on a challenge course high above the ground
Kids performing a program on-stage

FAQs: Camp Mather 2020 Season Cancellation


Why are you closing Camp Mather for the 2020 camp season?

After close consultation with health officials in San Francisco and Tuolumne County, it was clear we could not open and operate, particularly given the risks and restrictions around gathering during the COVID-19 health emergency. We are disappointed, and we know you are as well. But the health and safety of our Camp Mather families must come first.


How and when will I get my money back?

We will be fully refunding your reservation payment and you should see your refund within the next two weeks. For payments made by credit card, the refund will be applied directly to the card account used for payment.


Can I donate my refund to help another family?

If you would like to donate a portion of your refund to our Scholarship Fund, which provides Camp Mather Camperships for low-income families, please click here.


Will my lottery placement carry over to 2021?

Those who received camp placement through this year’s lottery will not receive preference or priority for the 2021 camp season. Rather, we will start fresh in December with a new lottery application process for the 2021 camp season.


What if I planned to go through a special program such as Senior Week or Teen Outdoor Experience?

Special programs have also been cancelled due to the COVID-19 health emergency. Campers in special programs should reapply for the 2021 season when available.


What happens if the coronavirus clears up earlier than expected? Can you open toward the end of summer?

Unfortunately, it is not possible. The California Governor has stated large gatherings are unlikely through summer. Outlook from health officials, coupled with the time it takes to hire and train staff and prepare the camp, means we cannot open at all this season.


I have more questions/issues with refunds. How can I reach someone to discuss?

Please contact matherreservations@sfgov.org for more information.

  1. History
  2. Activities
  3. Accommodations
  4. Registration Information


The Origmorgue29_mather_entrance-600x354ins of a San Francisco Family Tradition

The history of Camp Mather dates back many years before the area became a popular vacation site. Even before the pioneers settled in California, Mather was home to a group of Miwok Indians, who made their camp near where the corral now stands. Artifacts are occasionally found from these Indians.

Although there are signs that prospectors may have re-settled the area during the gold rush era, it was actually not until the early part of this century that the area became heavily populated, when the City of San Francisco began construction of a dam at nearby Hetch Hetchy Valley.

During this time, a sawmill was built on the lake side of Mather to supply the lumber needed for the dam’s construction. ’ Birch Lake, now the camp "swimming hole," was used to float logs needed for the project.

At the same time, the Yosemite Park and Curry Company used the other side of camp to house tourists interested in seeing both Yosemite National Park and the construction of the dam. The company built the Jack Spring Dining Hall for this purpose, the building that now serves as the Camp Mather kitchen and dining room.

When the O’Shaughnessy Dam was completed, many of the facilities were no longer needed. In the mid 1920’s, the City of San Francisco designated the property for use as a family recreation area. It was named Camp Mather in honor of Stephen T. Mather, the first director of the National Park Service.