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Camp Natoma opens for 80th year following 2020 struggles

Posted at 7:46 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 22:47:18-04

Camp Natoma opened in Paso Robles this week following the shutdown of overnight stays due to COVID-19 protocol.

The 80-year-old location only hosted outdoor hikes in 2020 with no overnight activity.

Camp Natoma Executive Director Emily Zbin said, “Today is our first full day of summer camp. The campers arrived yesterday, and we have about 100 kids right now. Many of them are first time campers and for the others they didn’t get to come last year, and they were very disappointed.”

Camp Natoma Director of Operations Robbie Zbin said, “Not running overnight programs was a huge change for us but coming back, we’ve had more enthusiasm than ever and we’re just really excited to be opening.”

Camp Natoma Director Diana Krichevsky said, “This is actually my first year as camp director. Last year it was so upsetting Camp Natoma couldn’t run.”

A year after Camp Natoma was not permitted to run overnight camps, life has returned close to what was once deemed normal.

Emily Zbin said, “We’re not really impacted by restrictions impacting our program. Of course, we’re taking extra precautions with health screenings and sanitation.”

The re-opening of the camp is bringing campers the experience their counselors and directors once experienced themselves.

Emily Zbin said, “Our staff was hired last summer and then we had to not open at normal capacity and now they’re here, so they have extra energy.”

Krichevsky said, “Here at Camp Natoma, I came for 10 summers as a camper and so I always felt my place here and my chapter never closed.”

Camp Natoma Counselor Eldon Orgill said, “This is really where I fell in love with nature. I’m a parks and recreation major now in Flagstaff and that’s because of camp.”

And while one year of camp may have been missed, new memories are being made to make up for missed time.

Robbie Zbin said, “For the campers, some call Camp Natoma their second home. Coming here is a place they get to be who they want to be.”

Orgill said, “Not having it for a year, you don’t miss it until it’s gone.”

Following its first session, Camp Natoma will host six more sessions running through Aug. 15.

There are currently spots available for their final two sessions for the weeks of Aug. 2 and Aug. 9.