The Henry E. Bothin Youth Center in Fairfax is an idyllic West Marin campground that plays host to local Girl Scout troops each summer. However, when the sun goes down at “Camp Bothin,” the historic site has a reputation for guests of another nature.
Some have reported sightings of a nurse pushing her cart down the hallways of Stone House, a foreboding structure that often serves as a dormitory for visiting campers. What reason would the ghost of a caregiver have to appear there? The answer lies in the history of the property, once the site of a convalescent hospital for nearly 50 years.
After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, dust and ash caused an outbreak of tuberculosis, and both Manor House and the Arequipa Sanatorium were located here. Perhaps those responsible didn’t feel it necessary to learn more about the area’s origins; otherwise, they surely would’ve thought twice about building on a former sacred Native American reservation.
Last spring, bad road conditions forced Doug Paulo of McKinleyville and the girls he was chaperoning to stay an extra night at Camp Bothin after everyone else had left. “We were eating and watching movies on the second-floor balcony,” he recalls. “It was a bit startling to hear a door shut loudly and later that evening see a light come on downstairs. We also thought that we saw someone moving things around — through a window, in a room that was locked.”
While Paulo concedes that small animals or old wiring might be to blame, he won’t rule out the supernatural. “Maybe the place is haunted. All we know is it was not another living person,” he says.
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Haunted Marin: Camp Bothin”.