Tag Archives: Lair of the Bear

Rock People


We are rock people. When my family travels or goes camping, we come home with rocks. We send each other photos of the rocks we have collected, and give garden stones for holiday and birthday presents. I have shipped rocks home from trips to Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. (When a Customs agent asked “What do you have in there – rocks?” I replied “Of course!”) After a trip to Brasil and a week camping in the Sierras, I gave my mother a necklace with a natural Brasilian agate pendant, plus a river rock from the Sierras. These were much appreciated!


Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Lake and Sky


I recently caught this lovely image of clouds among the shore grass in the Herring Creek Reservoir. We saw the lake during a family hike in the Stanislaus National Forest while at the University of California’s Lair of the Golden Bear Camp Blue.


Image Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson


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Highway 108 – Shoe Tree


Driving west of Pinecrest and the Lair of the Golden Bear on California Route 108, you will find the shoe tree. I don’t know why people have thrown dozens of adult-size sports shoe pairs around the branches of this large pine tree on a mountain highway far from any town… but there it is.



Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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21 Years at the Lair of the Bear – Camp Blue


Last night, we celebrated Paul’s 22nd birthday at the University of California’s Lair of the Golden Bear Camp Blue. We have been Lair campers since before Paul could walk! We started in 12th Week and have slowly moved to earlier weeks as school start dates crept back into August. This is our second year as 9th Week campers. My niece and nephew start classes on Monday. Paul starts at San Jose State University in a few weeks.

My brother Pete, sister-in-law Julie and kids, with friends Steve and Olivia and their son are also with us. This week, other members of the family have been going on hikes, running, and swimming in Pinecrest Lake. We also went rafting on the Stanislaus River out of Knights Ferry. Our immediate family has mostly been playing board games and enjoying Advanced Lounging with Electronics. Jessica and Matthew celebrated their 3rd wedding anniversary with pinatas full of candy and little plastic dinosaurs.

Jessica and I have been in email communication from Camp Blue Lodge with Susan Rodger (Professor, Computer Science at Duke University), collaborating on the design and content of our Notable Women in Computer Science and Wikipedia poster for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, to be held in October 2014. GHC14 is almost sold out – as it has been every year since at least 2009.

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Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Moby Dick, or, the card game


This week my family has been playing “Moby Dick, or, the card game” almost daily at the University of California at Berkeley’s Lair of the Golden Bear Camp Blue. This game was a Kickstarter project by King Post that I invested in last year. I gave it to my son-in-law Matthew, who loves games of all kinds. “Moby Dick” is great fun – we plan to buy more copies! The card graphics are interesting and well-executed. The game play is fast and dependent on both luck and strategy. An added benefit is that the classic 1851 whaling story Moby Dick by Herman Melville is one of my favorite novels.

Matthew, Jessica, Paul and I made some rule changes to improve play:

  • You cannot progress past the first chapter until a whale has been fought (this allows players to get some oil – so that more sailors can be hired).
  • Any time there is an uneven number to be distributed, we roll a die to see which player got more.
  • We designated any sailor without a specific name as a forecastle sailor.

Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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How to Tie Dye – at the Lair of the Bear Family Camp


One of our annual Camp Blue Art Grove activities at the Lair of the Golden Bear – University of California at Berkeley family camp – is tie dye. This craft is particularly associated with the 1960s hippie youth movement, and with U.C. Berkeley. After vacations at the Lair for 21 years, I have developed a reliable system for producing vibrant tie dye results in a camp setting. Tie dye is messy, so you may want to wear old clothes and wear gloves. Or, you can enjoy the mess – like my husband who paints “Lair socks” on his bare feet.  This is a good craft for all ages – with little kids getting as good results as adults.

Camp Blue provides:

  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic bags
  • Soda ash in a tub
  • Dye in tubs – with squirt bottles
  • Instructions

You need to bring:

  • Cotton shirts, pillowcases, socks, underwear or anything else you want dyed from home.  100% cotton works best. Wash and dry in advance.  This year, I brought a white Coldwater Creek dress blouse that had a unremovable stain – it came out a nice plum color with white bands on the sleeves. Walgreen’s sells good-quality plain and patterned t-shirts ($12 for three). I brought shirts that said California, San Jose, and Willow Glen and worked the words into my pattern. Note that the white stitching may not absorb dye, so design around that.  You can buy white t-shirts at the Camp Store but be sure to wash them before starting your project.
  • Clothes line and clothes pins
  • Plastic clothes hangers
  • Laundry soap

My tie dye process:

  1. Follow posted camp instructions to create patterns using rubber bands on the dry cloth.  The fabric squeezed by the rubber bands will absorb the least dye.  There are many tie dye projects and patterns available on the web if you want to plan in advance.  Starting with a simple bull’s eye pattern is easiest. Place the pattern center mid-chest (not mid-tummy) for better results.
  2. Soak the rubber banded cloth in the soda ash tub to help it absorb the dye.
  3. Dip, soak, spray, or otherwise color the cloth with one or more dyes. Go from light to dark (yellow then blue, not the other way) and plan for dye colors to interact.  Use the dyes on the first day they are available – dye that has been sitting out does not work as well.
  4. Put the dyed cloth in a plastic bag (one item per bag). Tie the bag at the top and poke a small hole in the bottom. Hang the bag on a clothes line out of the sun – so that the excess dye can drip out the hole. Leave the bag closed for 24 hours. Do not walk under where the dye is dripping – it is still potent!
  5. After a day, use scissors to cut the top off each bag and snip each rubber band to remove it. Touch the cloth as little as possible. Immediately hang each item on the clothes line before going on to the next.  (Pick up all of the plastic bits and throw them away!)  You can use clothes pins or hangers – hangers are better.  Keep the items separated so that they do not drip or brush together.  Do not wring or rinse at this time. Leave hanging for 24 hours.  If it rains, bring everything inside and be resigned to having pale colors.
  6. Once the items are dry, wash in cold water. At Lair Camp Blue, you can run a washer load of dark laundry (jeans and items that will not show any dye) with the tie dye. If you use a camp washer, be sure to run it again (on empty or with another load of darks) so that no dye remains to surprise the next user. Alternatively, you can rinse by hand in the laundry sink but this is tedious and does not work as well.  Dry everything on a warm setting.

I have dyed shirts with this process that have not faded after five years.



Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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Lair of the Golden Bear, 9th Week


School start dates keep moving earlier, so over our 21 summers at the University of California at Berkeley family camp, the Lair of the Golden Bear, we have moved in Camp Blue from 12th week to 11th to 10th and this year, to 9th week. The transition to 9th week meant a new location for our three tents: we are now creekside.  Creekside is farther from the bathrooms but has a prettier view.

9th week is both the same and different from 10th. We were too early to see the annual Perseid Meteor Shower and we missed Ed’s 10th week Margarita Party but 9th week features a Pirate Party and there is more water in the rivers. This year, we went rafting on the Stanislaus River. The rapids were no rougher than Class 2 but we enjoyed our day out of camp. We also drove to the Trail of the Gargoyles to see the sunset – made very colorful by a forest fire about twenty miles away.

We attended one of the talks (Dr. Larry Michalak on “Tunisia and the Arab Spring”), danced during Disco Bingo, celebrated Jessica and Matthew’s 2nd wedding anniversary and Paul’s 21st birthday with a Lair Cake, enjoyed arts and crafts, and played board games for many hours in the lodge.  My brother Pete and his wife Julie went running to Pinecrest Lake early every morning but most of us slept in until the first breakfast bell.








Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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