Three long-time members of the Friends of China Camp Board of Directors stepped down when their terms ended in June. The contributions of these three men—Ernie Stanton, Richard McCombs, and Tom Boss—have made significant impacts on both Friends of China Camp and the park. We thank them for their efforts.
Here’s a look back at some of their most significant contributions.
Ernie is a good example of what happens when you raise your hand. Even before he joined the board in October 2011, Ernie was already making a difference: Earlier that spring, he volunteered to help set up an outreach table by the campground kiosk to promote membership in Friends of China Camp.
Once on the board, Ernie learned that FOCC needed a new treasurer, and he recalls that he “eventually raised my hand because it was pretty clear no one else wanted to do it.” (Thank you for that, Ernie.)
As treasurer, Ernie did everything—collected cash, created an accounting system, and set up a membership database. At first, there were only about 30 names on our database spreadsheet. But after a couple of kiosk outreach tables that fall, Ernie remembers being “completely psyched” to announce that FOCC had more than 100 members. (That number now stands at nearly 4,000.)
Ernie remained treasurer until Ed Lai took over in late 2017. In his FOCC board “retirement,” Ernie will continue to manage the China Camp Village Cafe. That is, after he finishes his trail run and a swim in the bay.
Richard joined the board in 2018, after retiring as CEO of MBA Polymers, Inc. MBA was the global leader in recycling durable plastics at its three international locations. Before that, Richard started a joint venture processing and exporting rice from Vietnam—one of the first American companies to operate in the country after President Clinton lifted the U.S. embargo. Richard wrote about his experiences in his book, Keep Smiling: An American Business in Post-Embargo Vietnam, published in 2020 by Outskirts Press.
In his four years as a board member for Friends of China Camp, Richard was the only one to serve on all three of our board committees: Finance, Development, and Governance. In all his efforts, he brought a level of professionalism that significantly improved the board’s ability to carry out the FOCC mission. Richard also served as board secretary, and somehow managed to get meeting minutes out before most of us even got home.
Richard has also served on the boards of Island Conservation and the Terwilliger Foundation.
Richard says that living close to China Camp, and hiking and biking on the park’s trails, has given him “a unique and committed relationship to preserving this wonderful park.” Although he is moving out of Marin, we hope to see him back on the trails when he’s in town.
Tom joined the Friends of China Camp board in 2013, recruited for his connection to the mountain biking community through the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. Good move by FOCC, as Tom helped develop China Camp’s original bike patrol, as well as our “Slow & Say Hello” program that aims to keep all users safe on multi-use trails. Tom also helped maintain and stock the bicycle repair stations scattered throughout the park.
Tom says his biggest contribution has been assisting with developing the day pass and annual pass program, a steady source of income for the park.
“It’s been incredible watching this organization grow and thrive,” says Tom. “I was there pretty much at the start, when Friends of China Camp took over as park operators,” he recalls. “I certainly had my doubts in those first few years whether we could manage the park on our own,” he admits. “But it’s not surprising that we have succeeded, given the talent and diversity that we have on our board and in our staff and volunteers, and in our partners at California State Parks.”
While he’s stepping away from the board, Tom says he will always be a member of FOCC, a park volunteer, and a happy visitor. See you on the trails, Tom!
–Arlin Weinberger/Friends of China Camp Board Chair