Crawfish, yoga, boating popular at Stanford Sierra Camp Faculty-Staff Weekend

Teri Hankes, program support coordinator for the Office of Post-Doctoral Affairs, brought her mom, Betsy, to Faculty Staff Weekend at Stanford Sierra Camp.
Teri Hankes, program support coordinator for the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, brought her mom, Betsy, to Faculty-Staff Weekend at Stanford Sierra Camp.

It was Faculty-Staff Weekend recently at the beautiful and remote Stanford Sierra Camp at Fallen Leaf Lake in South Lake Tahoe.

Some 30 faculty and staff members, accompanied by about 70 family members, bunked down in the 12-room Main Lodge or 52 guest cabins and enjoyed activities ranging from hiking and boating to disco bingo. Special activities were offered for child campers, who ranged in age from 1 to 15.

Particularly popular this year among faculty and staff kids was the abundant crawfish hunting off the Main Lodge dock. Hordes of kids came to the water’s edge each morning, brandishing sticks with pieces of hot dogs tied to strings, eager to catch and release unsuspecting crawfish. Moms and dads kept watchful eyes from the yoga classes overlooking the lake.

This year’s participants represented a wide range of administrative and academic departments, from University Communications and Postdoctoral Affairs to Mechanical Engineering and Comparative Medicine.

Twice a year – in fall and spring – the Stanford Sierra Conference Center, located at an elevation of 6,300 feet, opens its doors for a weekend of fun to faculty and staff. During the summer, the center serves some 3,000 alumni at the Stanford Sierra Camp. Much of the rest of the year, the center attracts corporations and organizations eager to meet and draw inspiration from the remarkably peaceful location.

The history of Stanford Sierra Camp dates back to 1896, when Stanford graduate and engineering Professor William Wrightman Price created a boys’ camp in nearby Glen Alpine Springs. Eventually, he moved the camp to Fallen Leaf Lake, where it became a popular resort among his friends – many of them Stanford faculty.

Beginning in 1953, the then-proprietors of the lodge set aside time for a Stanford alumni camp. It quickly became a popular gathering point for Stanford alumni and their families. In 1966, the Stanford Alumni Association acquired the camp.

Stanford Sierra Camp isn’t the university’s only vacation spot. Faculty, staff and alumni also can take advantage of Stanford Alpine Chalet in Alpine Meadows. The chalet has its origins among physics professors who built a communal ski lodge for their families in 1963. The group donated it to the university and, in 1986, the Stanford Alumni Association purchased it.

—Kate Chesley