By Vic Gerami


It’s well-known that Los Angeles has the most vibrant recovery community in the world. In addition to the abundance of meetings, their diversity and Angelinos’ liberal attitude about sobriety, unparalleled fellowship makes LA one of the best places to get sober, without compromising a full and fun-filled recovery.

There is no lack of events, activities and fun things to do if you are sober in LA. There are conventions, retreats, alcohol-free parties such as #Boom on New Year’s Eve and #Sizzle during LA Pride. Sizzle and Boom were started by the Institute for Public Strategies to create alternative alcohol-free events for the recovery community that were still fun and festive. Sizzle is a part of LA Pride every year, with a section of the festival devoted to it. Boom is a big New Year’s Eve party that takes place at West Hollywood Park’s auditorium. Both events attract a lot of people and are examples of LA’s all-encompassing and exciting fellowship.

An exceptionally cherished annual tradition, primarily for sober LGBT, is Camp Bass Lake (CBL). This annual camping trip during 4th of July is in its 24th year and is a highly anticipated event that brings out people from different fellowships.

Jeff Kurtzman

Every year, well over a hundred people in recovery gather at Bass Lake in the High Sierra for a few days of casually planned and spontaneous activities. The group proves that they are not a glum lot, spending a week swimming, hiking, boating and enjoying nightly meeting around the campfire. Some take day-trips to Yosemite and hike up to Angel Falls.

Co-Chairs Jeff Kurtzman and Brian Stark have taken the awesome task of producing and executing CBL, from planning to promotion, logistics to overseeing the volunteers.

Brian Stark

“When we meet around the campfire, under the stars, a newcomer, detached and anxious, intimately shares. In the years to follow we witness them growing into their skin with meaning and purpose. Time and time again we hear how much Camp Bass Lake has meant to their sobriety” said Jeff Kurtzman.

He continued, “We aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life. This sums up my experience with Camp Bass Lake. Sober friends, fellowship, the principles and events like Camp Bass Lake keep me coming back.”

“I have the honor and privilege of being one of the organizers of Bass Lake Camp Out,” said Brian Stark. He added, “Bass Lake is a group of sober LGBTQ men and women who spend a week of R&R at beautiful Bass Lake in the High Sierra’s. We spend our days hiking, canoeing, biking, fishing, sunbathing, tubing, stargazing, swimming, boating, water skiing, or just relaxing. Yosemite is close to our campsites. We have a one of a kind talent show called bass-lakes got talent.”

He continued, “This event is the highlight of my year. It’s a week of laughs, love, fellowship, and relaxation. This event is the highlight of my year. The past 16 years of being a part of Bass Lake annual camp out has given me the opportunity to gain a wealth of friends and memories that will last a life time. It’s an opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of LA and enjoy an intimate gathering with new and old friends.”

All meals are prepared onsite. Fine dining Executive Chef, Matthew Underwood, has once again volunteered to undertake the task of preparing the meals with the help of volunteers. There is an espresso bar to provide that all-important java for sober folks. The cost to attend is nominal, barely enough to cover the hard costs such as campground rental, food and miscellaneous items. Scholarships are available for newcomers who can’t afford it.

No LGBT and sober event can be without a show. So naturally, a talent show is a highlight of the trip. The group always celebrates 4th of July by viewing a spectacular fireworks show over the lake.

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