FOCC Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Fran Stahl, camp hostess with the mostest

Looking to camp this winter? At our Back Ranch Meadows Campground, you’ll be in good hands.

FOCC Camp Host Fran Stahl
FOCC Camp Host Fran Stahl

Our seasonal camp host, Fran Stahl, is truly a hospitality specialist. Over the past four years, she has provided a warm welcome to thousands of our park visitors.

What makes Fran such a great visitor-service volunteer? She goes out of her way to make campers feel welcome in any way possible, whether it’s taking the time to offer directions to must-see sites at China Camp, handing out maps, or simply delivering extra matches for a campfire. We often get campers sharing comments like “Your camp host is a really sweet lady. Please thank her for the hospitality. We’ll be back!” That’s the kind of complement we love to hear, and it’s all due to Fran.

When the going gets tough, we’ve got Fran

Fran has supported us during some of China Camp’s most trying times. In spring 2020, at the outset of the pandemic, our campground had to close for two months. It reopened under strict social-distancing policies issued by Marin Health and Human Services. It was up to the staff and hosts like Fran to explain the policies to each camper. The job even came down to individually calling hundreds of campers ahead of time to make sure they knew the rules and were prepared with their personal protective equipment. Fran contributed her part throughout the closure, patiently and thoroughly explaining guidelines to our campers.

An adventurous streak leads to China Camp

Fran was born in Chicago, then grew up in Wisconsin. After getting her college degree in Illinois, Fran moved back to Wisconsin to raise a family and work as a psychotherapist for 40 years, specializing in addiction and recovery therapy. 

In 2015, Fran retired, and decided to give in to her long-time dream of becoming a full-time “RVer.” Fran came up with a plan: explore in her RV during spring and summer, then, come fall and winter, settle in one spot as a camp host. With family in the Bay Area, Fran applied to be a host at China Camp, and soon she fell in love with the park. 

Fran has always been an adventure-seeking lover of natural landscapes, a trait she has shared with her children, taking them canoe-camping in Wisconsin, and backpacking with them in Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming. In her spare time, Fran loves to bake and make quilts and sew clothes for her grandson and family. She is also an avid cyclist. 

While her travels in spring and summer often find her heading back to Wisconsin or to Florida to visit family, Fran does find time for plenty of adventures. In 2019, she took part in an all-women RV caravan trip, traveling from the Canadian border to Alaska and back. 

One of Fran’s favorite spots at China Camp is at the kiosk at the entrance to Back Ranch Meadows Campground. There, Fran greets mountain bikers, hikers, and incoming campers. But what Fran says she loves the most is working with FOCC’s other volunteers. She loves being part of the team that keeps the park going. And guess what—we love having her too.

From all of us at Friends of China Camp, thank you, Fran, for four wonderful years, and hopefully many more ahead.—reported by Sheila Coll,Program Director, Friends of China Camp

 

Photo credit: Harriot Manley, Fran Stahl

 

NOTICE: Some sites at the Back Ranch Meadows Campground will be closed Sunday through Thursday from November 14, 2022 until May 13, 2023 due to construction. The group site will remain open during the week. Go to reservecalifornia.com for available reservations.

ADVISORY: December 3, 2023, 8am-2pm. Footrace beginning at Miwok Meadows. Expect increased foot traffic on Shoreline Trail, Oak Ridge Trail, and Bayview trail. Plan your trip to the park accordingly. See calendar for details.