Camp Alandale on Highway 243, a Hill fixture for 35 years, had been facing the threat of closure over the expense of upgrading current facilities to meet code and expanding the camp to serve greater numbers of abused youth.
But in what camp managers call a gift from God, they were able to purchase a 12-acre facility in San Bernardino County with existing infrastructure that meets required code and can also serve a wider camper base.
The new facility, Camp Metoche, is separated into two distinct camp areas, allowing camp managers to operate two camps simultaneously while still preserving the intimate 24-campers-at-a-time format they have long operated. Near the small town of Angelus Oaks in the Barton Flats area, the camp will be renamed Camp Alandale on the River and will open for campers in the winter of 2016-17.
According to Camp Director Matt Pritchett, the current 6-acre Idyllwild facility will operate as the camp’s central office. All business operations will be directed from the Idyllwild office and camp programs will shift to Alandale on the River. “This is our first step in expanding our ability to serve more youth,” said Pritchett. “Eventually we hope to have a camp in each county, to be able to serve more abused youth from Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.”
Pritchett explained that first-time campers, in any grade, are initially wards of the state, having been removed from dangerous home situations. “After their first time, they are invited back every year,” said Pritchett. “Camp is free of charge and all of our counselors are volunteers. We model family, with my wife Tarrah and me serving as camp directors. When we open Alandale by the River we will be bringing in an additional couple as camp directors.”
Pritchett said it seemed miraculous to have been able to acquire Camp Metoche at one-tenth the cost it would have been to upgrade and expand the Idyllwild camp facilities.
“One reason we wanted to keep our Idyllwild facility was the huge levels of support and numbers of volunteers we have always received from Idyllwild,” said Pritchett. “There’s really no community at the other location and we have always appreciated our Idyllwild support.”
As a practical matter, Camp Alandale hosts campers six months each year and uses the remaining six months for preparation and planning. So, having the two facilities makes sense. Camp Alandale annually accommodates 275 campers, fourth through 12th grade, but with the addition of Alandale by the River, it will be able to double that capacity.
Camp Alandale is supported by donations, and the operational expense for the expansion will grow as the year unfolds, noted Camp Founders Robin and Karen Wood. Donations are welcome.
For more about Camp Alandale, visit www.campalandale.org.