It has been a long year of Zoom calls and indoor activities. While our extra time at home allowed us to get incredibly creative with new ways to stay busy, the call to explore the outdoors has never been greater. To allow more Girl Scouts to connect with their surroundings and engage in outdoor education, Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast has spent the duration of the Covid-19 shutdowns completing some exciting additions to the Arnaz Program Center in Ventura County.
Affectionately known to our Girl Scouts as Camp Arnaz, this 36-acre property is located near the beautiful Ojai valley and full of unique features for visitors to enjoy. The camp was originally dedicated in November of 1982 and has seen many returning groups, including Girl Scouts, other youth-serving nonprofits, and community organizations. With two cabins and a lodge on-site, each with electricity, hot water, cooking facilities, and flush toilets, there is plenty of room for events and overnight accommodations. The activity room connected to the main lodge can accommodate up to 45 people, making it ideal for group activities and meetings. Additionally, Arnaz boasts two comfortable campgrounds and five rain shines (permanent rain canopies) with individual fire pits, cooking areas, picnic tables, running water, small grills, and campfire rings. Two yurts, or enclosed tent structures, are also available that can accommodate 25 people each in bunk beds or cots.
Last year, community members and organizations came together to leave a life-long legacy behind at camp. They adopted apple trees to place in our new fruit tree orchard, which local Girl Scouts and volunteers rallied together to plant on November 21, 2020. The new orchard will serve Girl Scout programs, seasonal community fruit-picking events, and local food banks for years to come.
Perhaps the most exciting, Camp Arnaz has added four brand-new centers that opened in March of this year. The Archery and BB Gun Range allows visitors ages eight and up to practice their strength, attention, and steadiness in these discipline-building sports. Stargazers of all ages can visit the Astronomy Center to explore the night sky with various telescopes, find the best resources to search the cosmos, and even learn about applying their observations to scientific research. Girl Scouts that join the new Rancheras Program will have the opportunity to work with council staff at our Equine Center as they learn proper grooming of the animals, maintenance of the equipment, first aid knowledge, how to saddle, proper horseback riding form, and more. The Equine Center has excitedly added six horses to the property for the first time in over 15 years.
Junior Girl Scout Riley from Troop 55101 drove down from San Luis Obispo with her mom to attend one of council’s new archery programs. The two previously had the chance to attend Family Camp at Arnaz, and Riley loved how big the new archery range was. She is especially excited for the new horse programs and BB guns. Brownie Girl Scout Ellie from Troop 65319 also attended the archery program, and she said, “I love that I get to be outside and learn a new skill with my fellow Girl Scouts. Outdoor programs give me more life experience that I can not get anywhere else.”
When asked about what makes our camp unique, council CEO Tammie Helmuth said, “This destination site in our own backyard is affordable to girls and their families. It provides a safe space to explore the outdoors and helps alleviate some of the stress and mental health concerns from the last year.”
You don’t have to be a Girl Scout to come and explore all of the new centers Camp Arnaz has to offer! The new Camp Arnaz Club Passes are available to both community members and Girl Scouts, and grants access to their center of choice on designated days. Members have the option to choose between Archery Club, Shooting Club, or Astronomy Club. Also available for purchase is the All-Access Pass, which grants admission to all three exciting areas. Both the Club Passes and All-Access Passes are available for individuals or families of up to four members.
Outdoor tent camping for Girl Scout families is also open for registrations, with the ability to select your campsite of choice. Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast is committed to the health and safety of our girls, volunteers, staff, and visitors. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we comply with all Cal/OSHA standards and follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The sprawling property allows plenty of space for campers to stay socially distanced from groups outside their household. Currently, camp capacity is decreased by 50% and only one group or cohort of up to 14 people is allowed per campsite. Reservations outside of Girl Scout membership will be reviewed later this year on a case-by-case basis.
To ensure that everyone has the opportunity to come and enjoy all that camp has to offer, our council remains dedicated to keeping prices accessible. Camp Arnaz programs vary from $25-$500, while reservations range from $30-$3000 per night depending on group size. Financial assistance is available for Girl Scout membership and programs, though interested parties must be registered Girl Scout members before applying.
The dedicated staff at Camp Arnaz includes individuals that are just as enthusiastic about the outdoors as our Girl Scouts. We look for individuals whose interests and passions align with our Girl Scout mission: to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. All staff members undergo specialized training as part of their onboarding.
As the only Girl Scout camp in the Central Coast area, we serve as a platform for different age-level troops to engage in outdoor education, place-based learning, and environmental education through a variety of activities that reflect the interests of girls and the skills of the adults who support them. All outdoor programs are built around the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE), which helps girls build leadership by keeping activities girl-led, practicing learning by doing, and working as a team for cooperative learning. When girls get outdoors, they discover they can better solve challenges, build social bonds, become team players, and care more about protecting our environment. Quality time in nature helps girls thrive physically, emotionally, intellectually, which our council is excited to provide after this difficult past year.
Come and explore our council’s piece of paradise, surrounded by native oak trees, sycamores, and local wildlife! For more information, Club Passes, and camp registrations, visit www.girlscoutsccc.org/arnaz.