2 weeks ago

Destination Nevada County

Premium visitors magazine for Nevada County produced by the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce

As Joe continues the

As Joe continues the story he says, “The water-front acreage, of course, was gone, but they took us on a tour of the lake and we saw campsites. “What’s that?” Joe asked the realtor. “Private Campsites,” he replied, “the public camping is on the other side of the lake.” They went up and around the entire lake, checked it out and stayed that night in their camper. They returned home for their camping gear, came back and spent a few days at the lake. The following year, they packed up their two-year-old Margaret, and almost one-year-old Joey, Kathleen’s younger siblings Bill and Terry Sylvester and made the trek from Redwood City to Scotts Flat Lake for their summer vacation. And thus began the Love Affair with Scotts Flat Lake. Joe and Kathleen told me that they both grew up camping with their families. Their love of lake camping and outdoor recreation became a tradition that they continued with their own family. Bill has continued to join the Kaz Family for the five decades that they have gathered at Scotts Flat Lake. With a huge smile, Bill said, “I was ten that first year, and now I’m retired!” It’s a journey through their family history, and also that of the Lake. 152 DESTINATION Nevada County As the pine trees grew, so did their family. The stories continue to flip between the present and the past, and Mama Kaz says that they’ve seen many changes at Scotts Flat Lake. When they first came to “The Lake” they would turn off paved Highway 20 onto the dirt roads that led to the

Lake and the campgrounds. When the kids were little, they happily camped outdoors under the sun and the stars. The trees were too small to afford them shade, so they slathered themselves with sunscreen during the day and slept in sleeping bags lined up on tarps at night. I asked them if it ever rained, and what happened then? Whoops of laughter erupted as Mama Kaz shares a hilarious story. “It rained the ONE year that Joe wasn’t with us! The little kids piled into the back of the camper, Joey took the front seat, and there was no place for ME! So I grabbed the tarp and slept under the truck-it was a 4-wheel drive so there was plenty of room!” Just another day at Family Camp on Scotts Flat Lake. In 1972 Joe and Kathleen “Mama Kaz” added a boat to their gear, more child seats, and in later years as their brood grew up, bikes got strapped on. After a few years, the older Kaz Kids began their own ritual of Freedom. As Joe would pass through the Scotts Flat Lake guard gate, the kids would excitedly hurry him along to pull over so that they could get out and unstrap the bikes. The Kaz Kids would excitedly ride off in total “freedom” through the young forest down to the lake. Camping, Hiking, Riding Bikes, Exploring, Water Skiing, Conversation, and Love. Youngest son, Michael John told me, “When we’re here at the Lake, it’s just about being together. It’s been the one constant in our family. As a kid, camping was the biggest part of the summer for me… camping was AWESOME!” Middle son, Richard chimes in, “Yes, even if there are or have been disagreements between family members, they get left at home. Family Camp is a place of “sanctuary.” Laughing, Mama Kaz says, “Yes, look around, we’re covered with dust and happiness.” The kids go to bed sometimes rinsed off, sometimes not! Here it just doesn’t matter!” Michael John reports what happens at the end of each trip. “We have our “go away” bags-clean clothes for the trip home.” He rolls his eyes and continues. “We shower, put on those clean clothes and then nothing else-straight into the truck for the trip home!” They all laugh and Joe joins in to share another great memory. “My son and I are both plumbers (indicating Joe Jr.) and when the grandkids were little we needed a place to wash them and their bottles, so we made a drain board complete with a sink! Brought a long hose, and bingo! We’d tell everyone that we brought everything including the kitchen sink!” “Don’t forget the cabinet!” says Michael John’s wife, Gretchen. “Oh, right! says Richard, “we roped it to a tree—look here’s a family picture from that year—see the cabinet?” And indeed, there’s the kitchen sink and the cabinet. The Kaz Family making Family Camp function as a home away from home. Joe told me that “Family Camp doesn’t just “happen.” It takes two solid weeks of planning and Mama Kaz and Richard are the planners. “I use a spreadsheet,” said Richard, “and layout who’s going to bring what; what will be cooked each night and by whom; how much food we need, and by dividing the “who-does-what” makes each year’s Family Camp run smoothly. Mama Kaz swears, “It’s worth every minute of those two weeks to make this happen!” This year their larder was diminished by a hungry bear helping himself to a giant jar of cashews and packs of chicken, but Joe who was The “camp” family has grown over the past 50 years. From siblings and cousins, this multi-generational family arrives at Scotts Flat Lake to enjoy the water activities, camping and joy of just being together. DESTINATION Nevada County 153