Blog Post

Let’s Talk: About Camp Cazadero Ritual of Release

On June 12, about 150 people gathered at Camp Cazadero for a Ritual of Release as we prepare to sell this beloved property to Shelterwood Collective. It was a wonderful opportunity for people to laugh and cry and share and remember. Hikes and even a special TNT (Talent No Talent) event were part of the day’s agenda. 

During the Ritual of Release, led by Revs. Curran Reichert and Char Asher, we were reminded of God’s continued presence both in the memories and in the moment as well as with those who will experience this camp into the future.  

A worship service at Vesper Point included an opportunity to lay flowers of gratitude on the altar as

participants came up to receive Communion. Favorite camp songs and sharing of laughter, tears, and memories made the service and the entire day a tender time of togetherness. Notes of gratitude, memory, and wishes for Shelterwood were also part of the day as was a special lunch provided by nearby church members.  

Just prior to the event, Karen Yvonne Elvy Johnson, who, at the last minute, was unable to attend, sent an email with her reflections of the sale. With her permission, I am sharing these words, which were also shared during the Ritual of Release. 

Initially I felt a seriously deep sense of loss at even the thought of Caz leaving UCC, but the transfer is really just like selling a house when everyone else has grown up and moved away and what’s left is a truly-too-large building for just one or two people. It’s totally right to release Caz to a new family who can fill it and use it. We are only releasing the physical property – not our decades of memories, life affirmations, nature connections, friendships, loves, spiritual awakenings, skills learned, creativity explored, delightfully age-less sense of play, nor anything else that made Camp Caz special to each and all of us. People move, die, change – but they are always “with” us whenever we remember them. The same is true for Camp Caz, and far too much of my significant growth happened at Caz for me to ever forget it. May the new family treasure Caz and grow there at least as much as we have! 

 As we move towards a new chapter in ministry at Camp Cazadero, both for Shelterwood and for our Conference, as well as into a future of providing opportunities for the care and nurture of our ministers, our churches, and our youth, I pray that God will offer the tender words of nurture and compassion that all of us need to hear in this moment.  


  • Susan MacKenzie

    My father-in-law, Rev. Bruce MacKenzie, was one of the founding fathers of Camp Caz. His plaque is on the wall in the dining hall. My children grew up attending Caz camps and family camps yearly. Could you please send the group pic from this article and any other pics you may have from the event. We moved to Oregon during the pandemic and would have loved to attend but were unable.
    Susan MacKenzie

  • Jerry R. Hendel, MD

    I graduated from El Cerrito High in 1959. We attended First Congregational till about 1957, when I the teenager found it socially advantageous to switch us to Arlington Community Church in Kensington. Which my parents did. We enjoyed Arlington Community. Though I felt I never really belonged, since I had gone to school on the flats. My parents each had funerals at ACC. I do remember Rev. Dan Apra, who was sort of big on old ritual sayings. I also sang in the choir. I think there was only one. I also remember the pretty redwood chapel in the basement. I know that now the Unitarian fellowship, which used to be on Durant, has now moved to the top of the hill, above ACC. ACC was a friendly place.

  • I attended Camp Cazadero from 1959-1965. I truly loved camp and the friends I made there. Some names of fellow campers that come to mind: Phil Stone; Jeff Reese; Joyce Bryant; Terry Hartley; Skip Ultich; Linda Mosley; Dorthy Swendermam; Clay Hanks; Rita La Placa; Randy Widner; LaMar Sprague. I am sure more names will come to mind given time.
    Sure hope that some old campers from the 1950s and 60s stop by to check in
    I miss you guys and will forever cherish my memories of y’all

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