Three Generations of Skylake Magic
TRADITION-- "Handed down from generation
to generation, established, acknowledged, and customary."
Skylake Yosemite Camp, a co-ed sleep away camp for ages 7 to 15,
was founded in 1945. A founding member of the Western
Association of Independent Camps (WAIC), Skylake has also been a
member of the American Camp Association (ACA), the largest and
most representative body for 12,000 youth camps nationally, for
over 50 years.
Originally founded by John Wendell Howe and Ruth T. Howe,
Skylake began as a boy’s camp in Lake Tahoe just before the end
of World War II. In 1954, Skylake opened its doors to female
campers. In 1960, the camp moved to its current location on Bass
Lake, 45 minutes from the south gate of Yosemite National Park,
and became known as Skylake Yosemite Camp. John and Ruth’s son
John T. Howe became a full time director in 1958 and assumed
full ownership in 1970. John served as President of ACA for
three years and was a very active member in both ACA and WAIC
In 1994, John Howe transferred ownership to Jeffrey Portnoy and
Chuck Gould. Jeff assumed the position of Director and continues
in that role today. Before they became owners, both Jeff and
Chuck’s children, now married and with children of their own,
enjoyed many summers of Skylake Magic during the 1980’s and
90’s. Skylake has had only three Directors since 1945. This
continuity and dedication has become a hallmark of Skylake
Yosemite Camp, contributing to the much-heralded long term
Skylake is a traditional summer camp which allows children to
slow down and just be kids—low tech, low key, and high fun. A
world away from the fast paced pressures children experience
today, campers live in a beautiful, natural setting where they
can work off their natural exuberance and discover their own
identity; under the banner of FUN and CHALLENGE. Children, just
like plants and animals need their dormant periods. We say,
“yes!” to swimming, horseback riding, kayaking, campfires,
soccer, archery, stand up paddle boarding, sports, friendships,
great counselors, small cabin groups, loud songs, core values,
family meals and a caring and supportive community! And we say
“no” to cell phones, computers, homework, and the fast pace that
our children are accustomed to today.
Today, many Skylakers of yesteryear send their children (and
even grandchildren) to the same camp they treasured as a child.
They glow with delight as they witness another generation
consumed with the Skylake Magic.
That's what we mean when we say...
the opportunity to become part of a three-generation camp
tradition of "Skylake Magic."