Your dollars at work

Find out where your donations go

Donations are the lifeblood of China Camp. Throughout the year, we turn to our members, local businesses, and the community at large to help keep the park—and its remarkable history and precious natural habitats—thriving and open for all. Each year, we target how to spend those donations, be it a major trail overhaul, a structural repair of a historic building, storm repairs, or a new piece of equipment.

And then, almost miraculously, we get it done. Bit by bit, dollar by dollar, with occasional blood (thank you, blackberry bushes), lots of sweat, and (hopefully happy) tears, our small staff and enthusiastic volunteers dive in and make magic happen.

Doing all this work takes not just dollars, but time, and it’s important to keep that in mind when you donate to Friends of China Camp. According to FOCC’s Executive Director, Martin Lowenstein, seasonal fundraising campaigns often target a particular project or need.

“Donated dollars do go towards a specified project, but the funds raised aren’t restricted,” says Lowenstein. In other words, if FOCC raises $10,000 for a trail repair that ends up only costing $7,000, that “extra” $3,000 can be put towards another project. “It doesn’t have to go specifically for trail repairs,” he adds.

Blown away by how much people want to help the park

Lowenstein says it’s remarkable seeing how people want to help the park, and humbling how much they trust Friends of China Camp to get the job done.

“For our Spring 2024 fundraising campaign, we had a $40,000 goal,” he says. “We raised $40,295 from 84 donors. That’s pretty amazing.” With every tax-deductible dollar going straight into managing and operating the park, donors can know that they are truly making China Camp better.

Here are brief updates of recent projects being funded by your donation dollars:

Village Cafe roof: Decades of wear and tear, bad patch jobs, and even a mother raccoon and her babies have taken a toll on the shingled roof topping our historic cafe. Working with experts from California State Parks, Friends of China Camp will soon begin reinforcing the roof and installing historically accurate redwood shingles. Project lead for Friends of China Camp is board member John Muir. In his day job, John is a curator and historian for the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Site, putting us in great hands for an authentic and careful roof repair.

Electronic payment machine: The recent vandalization of the payment machine at the entrance to Back Ranch Meadows Campground was a big blow, inconveniencing visitors and costing FOCC thousands of dollars in lost revenue and replacement costs. Installation of a new and more secure machine that handles additional payment options, such as touchless pay, is in the works.

Improved and upgraded signage: This multi-phase project, spearheaded by FOCC board member Joyce Abrams and implemented by our volunteer maintenance crew, has led to new, improved signs installed throughout the park. Phase One—now complete—targeted a complete overhaul of trail signs, including the introduction of our innovative Emergency Locator System, which gets help to visitors as quickly as possible. Phase Two, nearly complete as of Summer 2024, has focused on public signage at key locations, including our campground, scenic points, and village.

Storm repairs: Our occasionally wild weather means fallen trees, slides, trail erosion, busted fences, and other seasonal headaches. “Every spring we have to deal with winter,” says Executive Director Lowenstein. “We’ve caught up this year, but there’s always more.” Though the bulk of this work is done by volunteers, equipment and materials cost money, and donations pave the way to acquiring what we need and getting jobs done.

FOCC’s mini-excavator, paid for through donations, has become a hard-working member of our trail maintenance team.

Mini-excavator: Trail repairs and other maintenance projects got a big boost with the recent $15,000 purchase of a mini-excavator. “This kind of major acquisition wouldn’t have been possible without donations from our community,” says Lowenstein.

Village electrical upgrade: Can you say “janky”? That would have been a nice way to describe the village’s antiquated electrical system. Thanks to a project supported by donation dollars, the village’s wiring has been overhauled—a huge boon for caterers, DJs, and others on site for weddings and other special events. The project included boosting the village’s electrical capacity, and adding new, easily accessible plugs.

—Harriot Manley/FOCC volunteer

photo: joyce abrams/focc volunteer