For some families, a trip to South Lake Tahoe in the spring to get Camp Concord ready for the summer season is a tradition. For others, it is a working vacation or a community project.
But whatever reason people volunteer for the spring or fall working weekends, they all agree it's worth it.
"I am hoping we get invited back," said David Paulson, assistant Scoutmaster for Concord Boy Scout Troop 317. "I was really impressed with all the work they did."
"It's kind of a workout and then just a great time," said Paulson's grandson, Scout volunteer Jared Paulson 13, a student at Pine Hollow Middle School. "It's a great experience."
As one of its community projects, about seven Scouts from age 11—13 joined the nearly 100 volunteers the first week of May to make repairs, chop and stack wood, clear and remark trails, rake pine needles and tear out and rebuild an amphitheater, and relocate and construct an archery range.
"This was a big work weekend," said Kathryn Monroy, director of the 46-year-old camp.
Along with the Scout troop, Washington state native Kala Duff, her U.S. Coast Guard husband, Jesse Duff, and 18-month-old Kaliana in tow, volunteered and rallied nearly two dozen of their Bay Area Coast Guard friends to join in the work fun.
"We love going up to Tahoe," said Kala Duff. "We've been in the area about six years," she said. "Always heard about the camp, but never heard about the volunteer opportunities. We might actually go up at the end of this month."
The city-owned camp opens for the summer season Friday, June 28, and Monroy is making sure its ready for families and youth groups to enjoy and make memories.
In April, she sent word out that volunteers were needed. She then assigned projects according to ability. The Boy Scouts were tasked with resurrecting an archery range and realigning a trail to it, along with carrying and stacking firewood. The Coast Guard crew was given the heavier task of ripping out the old amphitheater and building a new one.
Paulson said the toughest part was clearing and remarking trails because the logs used to outline the trails had to be moved. "They were really heavy," he said. "I thought that was the hardest part."
But he and other Scouts said the most fun was playing foosball in the "green room" during free time. Paulson also gave good marks to the food.
The Scouts were housed in the cabins in the lower camp area also known as the youth camp. They are a bit more rustic than those in the upper camp where the families are located. Accommodations and food were free for volunteers as were the activities provided for the younger children.
"They give us their time, muscle and labor, and we give them a place to stay and feed them," said Monroy.
She said finding work for all the skill levels is not a problem. "Generally, there is something to do for everybody."
For Tisha Trette of Concord, the work weekends have become a family tradition for her and son, Tyler Trette, 7.
"My parents worked up there," said Trette. "We were up there a whole summer when I was 5. My dad was the family camp counselor and then my mom ended up working kitchen because the kitchen staff quit."
Although she only spent that one summer at the camp as a child, the memories lasted.
"I remember going to the campfire, all the crafts, going to the beach, taking walks in all the wilderness ..." Trette said.
Five years ago, she had the opportunity of going up with a group from her Concord chapter of Lions Club International and jumped at it. Ever since she has been taking her son so he can build his own memories.
"I go up there two times a year for the work parties," she said. "In May when getting ready to open the camp and in October to close the camp for winter."
Although all family members are invited to work, in many cases as with the Duffs and Trette, the children are too young for many of the tasks. Camp Concord provides child care with the camp staff looking after the younger volunteers.
One of Tyler Trette's favorite activities his last trip was a treasure hunt using a GPS tool, while his mother enjoys reuniting with the regulars and making new friends. Duff enjoyed the s'mores and campfire and getting to know fellow Coast Guard families better.
The work is hard.
"You're exhausted by the end of the day," said Trette, "but it's very rewarding."
Duff agrees. "If you have the chance to go and do it, do go."
Information on the camping and rate schedule, along with programs offered at Camp Concord in Lake Tahoe, can be found at www.ci.concord.ca.us/recreation/camp or by calling 925-671-CAMP (925-671-2267).