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Camping in the Sierras Returns as ‘Camp SLO 2022’

After three years, the popular and iconic Fresno Betsuin Buddhist Temple’s Camping in the Sierras returned — for its 54th year— with a twist, trading in the Sierra Nevada for the California coast and beaches, and bonfires instead of campfires.

The event was called “Camp SLO 2022,” and was held at the San Luis Obispo Buddhist Church from July 30 to Aug. 3.

In all, there were 12 campers, all from the Fresno Betsuin, and 12 counselors and directors.

“This remarkable year of camp occurred because of so many people and unbelievable opportunities,” said Gregg Sera, Janis Nakamoto-Sera and Debbie Suda, Camping in the Sierras directors. “We are grateful to everyone who had a part in making this unforgettable year of camp possible. Along with our campers, we would like to say, ‘Thank you,’ for a fun, fun, and more fun time at Camp SLO 2022!”

A combination of the pandemic and wildfires from 2019 through this year led to the change in the locale. The California wildfires destroyed about one-third of the facilities, and the usual site of the camp — Jackass Rock Camp in the Sierra Nevada — was affected. The camp cabins weren’t rebuilt in time for this year’s event.

Even though the location of this year’s camp was different, the program’s core components remained intact, including: encouraging awareness of Buddhism in everyday lives; experiencing teamwork in work and play; developing leadership skills; practicing respect and kindness; spending time with nature; learning independence and resilience; and promoting self-awareness, self-esteem and personal growth.

All the home-cooked meals were enjoyed outdoors — and lunch was also held at Grover Beach in San Luis Obispo.

COVID-19 precautions were taken, including a mask requirement for the campers. No COVID-19 cases were reported.

A memorable, final evening service was held around a bonfire at Grover Beach, complete with S’mores.

The directors want to thank: past campers, parents and friends for their generous donations to a GoFundMe campaign; Michael Ohashi; help and support from the campers’ parents and from the Fresno Betsuin; facilities of the San Luis Obispo Buddhist Temple and temple President Gary Hongo; and the dedication and efforts of counselors.

“Camp magic happens and memories are made for a 54th time!” the directors said.


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