January 9, 2020
By Ken Brafman, Image from Ken Brafman collection
MOUNTAIN SUMMER CAMPS: Much has been written here about the survival skills of our native Serrano Indian tribes which were spread across the mountain range for thousands of years. Summer camps came into vogue between 1860-1880 and provide kids with a unique experience that incorporates many of those skills into a safe, nurturing environment. Classic camp experiences include traditional activities such as archery, swimming, astronomy, arts and crafts, hikes, nature study, and much more, depending on the program. A prime component to the experience is the camaraderie and relationship building that comes with campouts, cooking over a campfire, singing, games, and just sharing. There are dozens of camps across the mountain of all different types. The larger ones, such as Camp Seely in Crestline, are group camps capable of handling as many as 125-270 campers. This week’s image is a real photo postcard from 1965 highlighting a smaller camp, Camp Wintaka. It’s captioned “Corral At Camp Wintaka.” The camp is located between Running Springs and Green Valley Lake. Started in the 1930s near Jackson Lake in Wrightwood it was reestablished as Camp Wintaka in 1958 in its present location. It has two distinct camp areas, one for 2nd to 6th graders and one for 7th to 8th, with age-appropriate activities for each. With the variety of programs and proliferation of camps, finding one that is well-suited to your child’s interests should not be difficult. Each camp has its own unique personality, and information and brochures are readily available online. Many camps are nonprofit and volunteer-based, and some are faith-based, such as historic Pinecrest in Twin Peaks. Some camps, such as Wintaka, have only a one-week summer session. Other camps such as Pali, in Running Springs, have nine sessions available between June and August but fill up by February. So, while we may still have snow on the ground, it is important to plan ahead for your kid’s adventure. He or she will be welcomed and from the experience will gain memories for a lifetime.