Camp Sylvester at Pinecrest Lake

July 15 - 22, 2017

Our 2nd annual Summer Retreat takes place at beautiful Camp Sylvester near Pinecrest Lake in the mountains of Central California. Continuing the tradition of the French Meadows Macrobiotic Summer Camp for the 48th year in a row.

Nestled between Pinecrest Lake and the slopes of Dodge Ridge ski resort, Camp Sylvester in Pinecrest, California is an ideal setting for family vacations. With updated cabins and recreation halls sprawling over nearly ten acres of the Stanislaus National Forest, Camp Sylvester provides the fresh air, green pines and excitement of an outdoor adventure with all of the comforts of a rustic resort.

The picturesque, natural surroundings are an ideal setting to go "on retreat" and provide a unique environment in which to relax, study, and play. 

Can't make it for the whole week - we have a two day deal - check it out!

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On-Site Amenities

Meeting Halls

Restrooms and showers with hot and cold running water

Commercial grade kitchen and dining hall

Lighted amphitheater

Team sports areas

Lighted BBQ & picnic area

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Organic, Plant-Based Meals

For many campers, the unforgettable meals are what keep them coming back - delicious and healing in quality.

Organic, all vegan, freshly made, nourishing, whole food dishes are prepared every day of camp - from scratch - all three meals, snacks and more. Prepared in our fully equipped commercial kitchen by teams of trained professional chefs.

Our Executive Chef for Summer Retreat 2017 is Patrick Grosset of 7th Element Services in Los Angeles. Patrick is a professionally trained French Chef with a strong background in macrobiotics and vegan cooking. He will be educating staff in our retreat kitchen, sharing his extensive knowledge of truly healthy food. Our kitchen features work/study opportunities if you would like to join our staff and learn more hands on.

The majority of our daily food is gluten free and we offer gluten free alternatives if needed.

We filter all water used in production of the vegan meals and purchase vegetables and staples from reputable sources including Eden Foods, Lundberg Family Farms, Gold Mine Natural Food Company, and Veritable Vegetable.

Since we are unable to cook separate meals for specific needs, we recommend that you bring any special foods you might need. Only kitchen staff is allowed in the food handling areas.

Classes and Workshops

The major emphasis of our Summer Retreat is education for better health and longevity through the natural practices.

The daily schedule includes lectures, cooking classes, workshops, movement sessions and meditation groups. All sessions encourage participation, dialogue and questions.

We feature daily cooking classes, at least two everyday for the length of camp. And we have daily cooking classes for the Kid's Camp too!

Teaching Kitchen

Want to learn more about seasonal, vegan cooking hands on? Want to learn more about the macrobiotic principles to create naturally healthy dishes and take your cooking to a whole new level?

Our big, beautiful, commercial kitchen is a teaching kitchen!

Check out our work/study program and get to work with us AND get a big discount on your camp registration, (save $500).

Our Executive Chef Patrick Grosset is a professional French Chef and teacher of macrobiotics. He will be educating staff while creating in season, healthy dishes for all to enjoy. And the menu is gluten free.

Daily Indoor Cooking Classes

Learn macrobiotic cooking from basic to advanced in our new cooking class program. World-class chefs will instruct you on everything from selecting quality ingredients to preparing meals that are both delicious and healthy. Each class is ninety minutes and tasty samples are offered to all who attend the entire class. 

Movement Classes

Daily movement class keep everyone active and in good shape. Classes range from Chi Gong and Yoga in the early morning to Shiatsu, Yoga, and Pilates in the afternoon.

All of the classes are non-sequential, allowing you to drop in on any of them without prior experience or knowledge. Each of the instructors provides a complete program if you choose to attend every session they teach. 

Private Sessions & Counseling

The accessibility of Health Counselors and Alternative Health Practitioners is one of our traditions. There are ample opportunities to schedule an in-depth health consultation, treatments or other private sessions while at camp. Private sessions are scheduled after arrival at camp with each instructor directly.

The natural setting of Camp Sylvester, away from the distractions of normal life, encourages total focus on health.

Pinecrest Lake Activities

Come spend time with us down at the lake, we have our own space on the beach with all kinds of water toys to choose from. Paddle boards, kayaks, water floats, life preservers and more. We like to share our toys and have lifeguards on duty to help you get set up.

Relax and renew on the beach, take a hike, go for a swim, breath in the fresh air and enjoy!

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Kid's Camp Activities

We offer children's and youths' programs for ages three through twelve during the lecture times. Activities include arts and crafts, story time, music, drama, swimming and other physical activities, and macrobiotic learning experiences such as discussions and very basic, very tasty cooking classes.

State law requires helmets to be worn by bike riders age 16 and under. This is strictly enforced. If you bring a bike for your child, bring the helmet too.

The children receive snacks as part of the afternoon program. You are welcome to bring your own snacks, but we ask that your children eat them privately. Also, we ask that you check with the parents of other children before sharing any snacks with them.

Contact us before registering if you are bringing children under three years old, or with specific questions.

Cooking with Kids

We love teaching kids about food! We have a daily cooking class for our young campers that is hands-on. Children get to make their own dishes and eat their own delicious creations.

Pinecrest Lake Activities

Kid's Camp will include scheduled afternoon trips to the lake. Play on the beach, splash around in the water, get some sun and enjoy all the toys we brought along to share. We have paddle boards, kayak, water floats, life preservers and more.

We are also planning at least one excursion to the lake for an extra-cost boating activity. Parents will be able to reserve this activity in advance and are welcome to attend with the kids for a fun-filled time on Pinecrest Lake.

Tweens & Teens

The teens often attend classes and lectures, hang out with friends, head to the lake with adult supervision, and/or work on drama for one of the variety shows. While there are staff persons available to work with them, the teens decide what they want to do and when.

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Entertainment

We have a large indoor hall for Sue Hunter's legendary dance party. Sean Braniff provided the lights and music. You will not want to miss this once in a lifetime event!

The evening campfires feature an opening circle during which campers share their stories. We also host one of the best variety shows anywhere, and have a lighted ampitheater stage!

Many people attend daytime classes and participate in swimming, volleyball, walking in the woods, and relaxing by the lake. Whatever you decide, there are many like-minded folks who will join you if you like.

Camping & Housing

There are eighteen sleeping cabins available. Each private cabin sleeps 8 to 13 guests in twin-size bunk beds. Each unit includes access to bathroom, dining, and recreation facilities. The cabins have full power and lighting and are gas heated if the weather turns unusually cold.

No linens are provided. You need to provide all bedding (sheets, blankets, sleeping bag and/or pillow), hygiene products, and bathing towel.

Participants are required to keep their assigned space in cabins clean.

Private Tent Space: Bring Your Own

There is room for about fifty tents between the cabins and other buildings. Most of these spots have ample afternoon shade with a reasonable amount of open space.

Notify us if you prefer to tent and we will save a place near your cabin. There is no change in fees for choosing to stay in a tent. Every registration includes bunk space.

RV's, Campers and Motor Homes

Camp Sylvester has limited parking for motor homes. The better option may be to camp in a nearby campground and walk to our campus if have a large vehicle.

Bathrooms & Showers

Camp Sylvester features running water with flush toilets, sinks, and showers with hot and cold running water conveniently located near all cabins and tent spaces.

Filtered Water

We use filtered water for all of our kitchen needs and is available to all campers. Feel free to bring your own water bottle to fill.

Phone Service

Verizon and Sprint phones have the best reception at this camp location. Cell phones are not to be seen or heard, you can have them and use them privately but we ask that you do not disturb any other campers when using your devices.

We do not offer wifi but you are welcome to purchase your own hot spot to make it available for your personal needs.

 
 

Camp Location

Camp Sylvester
28770 Dodge Ridge Road
Pinecrest Lake, CA 95364

Just click on the red locator on the map below for Google maps to make your travel plans today.

 
 
 

Transportation Coordination

We are very happy to announce that Michael Clennan is our new transportation coordinator.

We know it can be difficult to plan a vacation far from home and we want this to be an enjoyable experience from the time you leave your house. So Michael will be our main man making sure it is a hassel-free time!

We now offer van service for those flying into the San Francisco/Oakland airports and ride-share coordination.

If you need a ride, or have room in your car to offer a ride, please email Michael. He will try to help coordinate transportation for those who are driving.

Please contact Michael directly with your transportation needs or availability to share your ride.

 
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Area Attractions

In addition to our excellent program and delicious meals Pinecrest Lake offers many unique opportunities from horseback riding and water activities to hikes in the gorgeous mountains.

There is an easy hike around the lake and the more challenging climb to Cleo's Bath.

We have a convenient bike path leading down to the lake area for easy access. Bicycle rentals are also available there.

Bring your clubs if you play golf because there is a course just 20 miles down the road to hit some balls.


What to Bring to Camp

Come prepared for hot days, cool nights and the rare occasion of rain by bringing the following:
- for Cabin, bedding, sheets, blankets, sleeping bag, pillow
- for tenting, sleeping bag, tent, ground cover, air mattress or pad
- hygiene products, bathing towel
- sweater, jacket and cap for cold nights and mornings
- summer clothing, hat, sun glasses
- sunscreen, bug spray
- bathing suit, exercise clothes, yoga mat
- water bottle, thermos for day outings
- bicycle, helmet
- hiking gear, hiking shoes, day pack
- flashlight, lantern, camera
- musical instruments
- special food as desired or needed
- art supplies, sketch pad
- notebooks, pencils

Summer camp takes place in the mountains. Be prepared to deal with cold nights and chilly mornings.


FAQs

When is check in?
Begins Saturday morning 9am.
If a camper requests move in on Friday evening we will make accommodations available. For a fee to be determined.

When is checkout?
Campers must check out by Saturday morning 10 am.

Do I clean my own cabin?
Yes, you are expected to keep your own space clean.

Do I clean the bathroom and showers I use?
We have staff to clean the bathrooms. But please pick up after yourself.

What is the weather like in the mountains?
Chilly nights, cool mornings, warm to hot days.

Where can I park?
We have limited parking spaces available. We recommend carpooling. RV spaces are available but must be reserved ahead of time and are only available on a first come first serve basis.

Can you accommodate special dietary needs?
Our menu is vegan and organic. We offer gluten-free options. Special dietary needs cannot be accommodated, please bring any personal items needed.

Is there wifi? Cell phone reception?
Yes we have cell phone reception and wifi is available if you purchase your own hot spot.

Do I have the option to change cabins?
We will do our best to accommodate changes but cannot promise there will be space available.

Do I have the option to sleep in a tent?
Yes, tent placement is first come first serve.

Are the bathrooms and showers single sex or coed?
Single sex.

If I forget to bring something, is there a store?
There is a “general store” near Pinecrest Lake that sells supplies and snacks. VEI will have a small “store” with limited hours in the dining room, where you can purchase books and macrobiotic specialty items.

Is there a First Aid Station?
There is a First Aid Station at the Camp Sylvester office.

Medical emergencies?
The closest hospital is approximately 35 minutes away in Sonora.
Sonora Regional Medical Center
1000 Greenley Rd, Sonora, CA 95370
(209) 536-5000

Kids Camp Questions:

  • What activities are there for my children?
    Games, sports, cooking classes, camp and lake activities, arts and crafts.
  • What is the minimum age for a child to be in Kids Camp?
    The child must be fully potty trained to be participating in kids camp.
  • May I visit Kids Camp or help out?
    You are welcome to visit and help out but please be respectful of the staff’s schedule and directions for the children.
  • Do kids need to be accompanied by an adult to attend camp?
    Yes, kids must come to camp with an assigned adult.

Registration Questions:

Payment Plan Questions:

  • What kind of payment forms do you accept?
    Credit/Debit card, check or cash.
  • Do you have auto-pay?
    No.

Vegetarian Educational Institute Questions:

  • What is VEI's affiliation with the George Ohsawa Foundation?
    GOMF has worked hand in hand with us in our creation and transition to carry forward the tradition of French Meadows Macrobiotic Summer Camp.
  • Are donations to VEI tax-deductible?
    Currently we are still in the process of securing our non-profit status. Any donations made since the filing of our 501c3 application in July  of 2016 will be tax-deductible once the non-profit status is secured.

Educational Questions:

  • Can I earn CEUs?
    CEU’s are currently not available but may be available in the future.
  • Are there ‘hands-on’ cooking classes?
    Yes.
  • Do I need to bring my own knife?
    No.

Kitchen Staff Questions:

  • What type of clothing should I wear?
    Casual, comfortable pants and a t-shirt, rubber soled shoes.  No jewelry should be worn on your hands/wrists, except a simple wedding band (per CA health department).
  • Do I need to wear a hairnet?
    Your head needs to be covered unless your head is shaved. A hairnet, scarf or hat is appropriate.
  • What are my hours? My days off? My breaks?
    Kitchen staff will work every other day. Hours to be announced.
  • Who do I talk to if I want to make a change in my schedule?
    Schedules must be adjusted prior to camp with Retreat Director Jeanne Grosset. No changes will be made once camp is underway. Email Jeanne at:  VegetarianEducationalInstitute@gmail.com
  • May I bring my own knife?
    Yes; please put your name on it.
  • Will I have a opportunity to learn more about vegetarian cooking?
    Yes, this will be an educational kitchen experience. However, the Kitchen Staff’s immediate goal is to get meals out on time. There will also be cooking classes available during camp.

Campgrounds Work Staff:

  • What type of clothing should I wear?
    Casual camp wear, closed toe shoes.
  • What are my hours? My days off? My breaks?
    Schedule to be announced.
  • Who do I talk to if I want to make a change in my schedule?
    Schedules must be adjusted prior to camp with Retreat Director Jeanne Grosset. No changes will be made once camp is underway. Email Jeanne at:  VegetarianEducationalInstitute@gmail.com

Camp Policies

The following camp rules are listed to assure a safe and enjoyable experience for all and are requested by the camp staff. These are in addition to those listed in the Waiver, Release, and Indemnity Agreement

1. Drive 5 mph within camp boundaries. There are children playing and people walking leisurely in the campground. Drive slowly for their safety and yours.

2. The campgrounds are reserved for camping only. Our special use permit allows us to charge admission to the camp and to sell items in the store to our members. If you are interested in some activity other than "camping only," please direct your questions to the Vegetarian Educational Institute in writing so that your request may be reviewed by the Board of Directors for consideration. A minimum of 90 days prior to start of camp is required.

3. There is no selling of goods or services allowed in the National Forest. Exchanging goods or services for money in the National Forest is breaking the law.

4. Stay in your assigned cabin or tent only within camp boundaries as approved by the Camp Director. This assures everyone's enjoyment of the natural beauty.

5. Pets, including dogs, are not permitted within the camp boundaries. If you show up with a dog, other than a registered service animal, or other pet you will be asked to leave.

6. Also prohibited within camp boundaries: smoking, underage drinking, illegal drugs, firearms and alcohol at scheduled events. Picking wildflowers is not allowed in the National Forest.

7. Quiet time is 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. This includes radios and CD players in cabins and at personal campsites as well as the use of bright lanterns.

8. Responsibility. The camp staff does not provide individual care for participants. If you need care, you need to bring your own care giver. Camp reserves the right to limit participation based on individual condition.

9. All engines should be off during camp—check with the Camp Director for reasonable use of RV generators. It is strictly prohibited to cut live or standing trees and or operate chain saws.

10. Due to extreme fire danger only one open fire area is allowed at the ampitheater. Individual camp stoves and lanterns are permitted with advance registration of devices.

11. Keep bear bait (food and anything aromatic) out of sight and smell and away from tents. Space in your assigned cabin is available for these items. The bears generally avoid humans but do like to snack on people food for which they have been known to rip tents, break car windows, pull doors off camper shells, and claw car exteriors. Careless attitudes by humans have resulted in the euthanizing of bears. Please be proactive, handle food properly and keep wild animals (and people) safe. Food is not secure in your vehicle.

12. Keep your cell phone in airplane mode within camp boundaries. Take care not to disturb others when you make your calls. 

13. Photo/Video—Any commercial use of photographs or videos taken at French Meadows Camp is prohibited without written permission by the Vegetarian Educational Institute. Please let the folks at the registration table KNOW if you object to your image being used by the Institute for promotion purposes.

14. Drink plenty of water. Filtered water is available from the kitchen. Avoid drinking water from the lake or stream. Bring your own bottle or cup for personal use and reserve camp utensils and bowls for dining use.

15. Ask before arriving. If you have any questions about these policies, or any other questions, it is best to ask before driving all the way to camp - email info@HappyHealthyRetreats. Having to ask someone to leave is no fun for us, or you.