Dec. 18, 2012
Monica Lara, OVN correspondent
A $421,000 donation to the Arnaz Program Center has ensured its 36-acre facility will continue to provide a wilderness getaway for the community and Girl Scouts along the coast.
Owned by California’s Central Coast Girl Scouts, the center, off Highway 33 between Oak View and Casitas Springs, last year supported more than 6,000 scouts and other community guests, including local nonprofit organizations.
The donation was willed to the camp by the Pennington Family Trust of Arroyo Grande after the last heir, Martha, passed away. It remains uncertain why the family chose to include the camp as part of their estate wishes.
“You don’t know when something touches someone’s life,” said Karen Skole, the organization’s chief operating officer. “We don’t know if she was a longtime girl scout, but she may have been impacted in some way by the camp. There is no way of knowing because there are no more living heirs in the family, but sometimes this happens.”
The donation will be used to establish an endowment to secure perpetual funding for center maintenance projects, camp improvements and program expansion.
“The camp has a lot of maintenance to keep it up to ensure we meet all the safety and program regulations, but we want to make sure it is fun by the girls standards too,” Skole pointed out.
“All of the outdoor activities are wonderful on their own, but it’s really about building confidence in the girls. They are really learning how to be the best they can be,” she added.
The California’s Central Coast Girl Scouts serves almost 10,000 girls across six counties, including Ventura County. It purchased the camp in 1974. Workshops, outdoor training and camping are included in the activities offered on site.
The camp houses several wooden cabins and lodges with amenities including electricity, hot water and cooking facilities. Three on-site camp grounds house picnic tables, running water and small grills.
“Camp Arnaz is the only property owned by the California’s Central Coast Girl Scouts and this endowment will ensure we can keep the 36-acres in the hills as pristine and safe as possible for the girls and the community to have respite from their busy lives,” Skole said.
The organization is looking to expand on its outdoor activities to allow for more place-based learning — such as establishing a safe archery range with targets, hay bales and a protective wall to safeguard against ricocheting arrows. More sports fields are expected to be added, as well. The organization is hoping to offer more science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, programs.
Other improvements to the center are expected to include shower installation in all of the camp’s existing cabins, along with upgrades in plumbing and other infrastructure.