Slide Fire Camp Dedications and Memories

Memories Contributed After The 2007 Slide Fire Swept Through Camp Helendade
My two favorite memories of Camp Helendade come from my Order of the Arrow Brotherhood ceremony weekend and being a staff member for a Cedar Badge junior leader training there. The first was in September of 2000; a weekend full of the brotherhood of Scouting and the Order of the Arrow. I helped install drywall for a new restroom building with about six other people. The Cedar Badge training is one of my favorite Scouting memories as a whole: in the spring of 2000, I was able to spend two weekends teaching young Scouts leadership skills. And what made it so great for me was that my father was also on staff. I am thankful and grateful that Camp Helendade was able to give me those memories and many more, as well as for thousands of others.

Gregory Lewis, Troop 90, Riverside

I’ve been camping at Camp Helendade for twenty years and there are too many good memories to share in a couple paragraphs. I remember my first District Camporee in 1989 and competing with my patrol. I remember my first Order of the Arrow ceremony in 1990. I remember all the service projects over the years, including the fire bowl the O.A. was rebuilding. Just over a week ago, I left the parking lot at Helendade after looking at a promotional video for the camp made by James Hermes. We had no idea that things would never be the same. A setback is an opportunity, and I know we will rebuild even better than before.

Tracy M. Schultze, Troop 8, Yucaipa

Many of us have had great experiences at Camp Helendade in Running Springs. A news release posted this morning by our Council has stated that Helendade has most likely been completely destroyed by fire. Please take some time to reflect on yours and your children’s experiences there. Even if it is rebuilt it will never be the same. My immediate thoughts and memories are of Jared’s Ceder Badge weekend camping on the snow. Fall Fellowships. A rain soaked Webelos Woods last year. Spring Camporee. Most recently, a cold night of reflection there while receiving my Vigil Honor.

While we have lost a beautiful campground, many others have lost much because of these fires. Please pray for those who have lost their homes, businesses or lives. Take a moment from your busy lives and be thankful for what you have and for what you have been able to experience.

Kevin McCreary Scoutmaster T141

First and foremost despite all the destruction scorching our camps, and homes in Southern California we can all be very thankful that very few people have been injured through all of this. We should all pray that this continues.

It’s very disheartening to hear that we’ve lost such a central part of our Scouting community, and for some their home. We’ve all had experiences to grow at our camp, and although we may have lost our camp I know our Scouting community extends beyond any one place. If anything, this should be another opportunity for our Scouting community to prove how supportive and devoted to service we really are. I am very thankful to hear the Riley family are out and safe, and I know all of us will be working together to help them, and to continue to bind our scouting community together.

Every one of us have been affected by these fires in one way or another. I know for myself it is difficult to have been moved out of harms way but now feeling somewhat hopeless to help those who are in need. Many of my friends and neighbors are still in San diego and I’ve talked to some who are in Qualcomm. They have most of the supplies they need, but the biggest need for the Red Cross now is for continued donations to support their operations and get specific food, freezers, etc to support the many shelters for over half a million evacuees. You can donate directly to the fires at:

Camp Helendade and the many memories we’ve had there will remain with us. I will always remember the years of service we shared at the camp, and I know we will be prepared to provide a lot of service to assist the incredible clean up and recovery effort that will follow.

To the Riley family, and all others protected, and the brave firefighters who are risking their lives, and to two who have already passed defending our homes and saving our lives, you will be in my prayers, and everyone else’s too.

Stay safe everyone, and if anyone is in need of a place to stay in south orange county don’t hesitate to ask,

Michael Gollner, Troop 444, Sun City

There are too many weekends, summer camps and special events spent at camp while I was scout to recall a lot of them, but the memorable ones stand out so clearly after all these years. Home is where the heart is? Not for this scout. My heart is at home camping, so anywhere I can go to do that is a very special place, and Helendade is one of them.

I had my first camping trip in cub scouts here and made me want to continue to boy scouts, just so I could do more camping, I loved it. I remember getting a pretty bad case of swimmers ear and refusing to go home so I could stay at camp. Summer camp comprises most of the time spent there, so merit badges were a big part of some of my fond memories of camp. Helendade was where I earned one of the more difficult merit badges. Archery, while it was so downright frustrating at times, it was a still an enjoyable challenge. The Firebird trail was a must to take a walk down in late afternoon to get away from the always bustling campsites and main lodge.

Although Helendade was probably the lesser visited camp for me later in scouting, it still holds a very special place. The Grass Valley fire of 10/2007 is a tragic loss to the scouting program, but as the firebird rises from the ashes, so will Camp Helendade. I look forward with helping to rebuild camp for everyone to share and enjoy once again.

(Anonymous) A scouter, camper and friend to the outdoors

My sons and I have enjoyed many great experiences at Helendade both at Camp Wiley and other events like Haunted Helendade. My boys are very upset right now as they just found out that we may not being going back for a while. When it is time you can count on volunteers from Pack 257 to help rebuild.

Tom Cherry, Pack 257

One of my first experiences with the Scouts was when my family went to visit my older brother at Camp Helendade in 1979. I can remember how I wished I could be one of the people that got to camp out in a tent and do some of the neat stuff that the Weblos Scouts got to do. Three years later I got my chance by attending Helendade as a Cub Scout.

Since that time, I’ve had the pleasure of attending Summercamp there as a Boy Scout, serving on Helendade Summercamp staff for several years, and attending numerous O.A. Ordeals and other Scouting activities. I like to think that I partly grew up at Camp Helendade.

My father can remember camping at Camp Arataba as a Boy Scout shortly before that camp was lost due to fire in 1960. He describes the loss of Arataba is a great loss, but the loss of Camp Helendade is much more like losing a close family friend. He got to attend camp there for several years with my self and my two brothers when we were Cub Scouts and then later as Boy Scouts.

There are many friends that have told me that they have similar feelings about Camp Helendade. Although the camp has changed throughout the years, many Scouters know the timeless Spirit that Helendade posseses. No matter how many years have gone by, they know they’re visiting their old friend when they can smell the pine in the air, feel the crisp mountain air, and see their sons experiencing the camp just as they had when they were younger.

Since Camp Helendade first opened, three generations of Scouts have got to share in the Scouting Spirit at this magical place. The sentiment that, collectively, the tens of thousands of Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Scouters and parents must share about losing our old friend can not be put in to words.

Camp Helendade, your loss will be mourned but your memories will always be cherished.

James Hermes, Aca Chapter Adviser, Order of the Arrow

I think my fondest memories of Camp Helendade were the many Klondikes I ran with the awesome Serrano Chapter. It was great to put on a event that included both the scouts and scouters. Friday night was traditionally snowing, coating the ground in beautiful white powder, as the campfire roared in the Mess hall with the giddy sounds of hundreds of cubs laughing at the staff skits.

I remember tying up the bandana on to the deerhead in the Lodge, sitting by the crackling fire with friends, and sleeping in the cabins more times than I can count. The trim on the bathrooms was added by a team of honest, hard working gentlemen that I was proud to call myself a part of. I remember sitting in the chapel. alone, watching the forest alive in front of me, and thinking that there couldn’t be a more peaceful moment.

I have called Camp Helendade my home camp since I was a cub scout, at my own first Klondike. The camp has claimed my sweat and blood many times over, and I was proud to call myself a part of its history. It’s hard to put into words how I feel, but I suppose grief is the closest description that I can think of. I am anxious to be part of Camp Helendade’s history again.

Brandon Schleeter, Eagle Scout

Camp Helendade was part of my life in Scouting for as long as I can remember. My first campout there was a webelos woods 15 years ago. After that I camped there many times. My fondest memories of the camp are my years of working on the summercamp staff as a Lifeguard for 4 years. I made friends there that even after not having seen them for seven years we just picked up rite where we left off. Camp Helendade was always gorgeous no matter what time of year it was whether it was during the winter when the ground was covered in snow or during the summer where everything seemed alive. The loss of Camp Helendade is like loosing a part of my youth. To me like many other people it was more than a summercamp and loosing it is like loosing a part of my childhood. On the plus side this will give many more scouts the opportunity to have the good feeling of doing service projects and rebuilding it even better.

Spc Christian Knowlton, US Army, Eagle Scout

The opportunity to rebuild is just around the corner. In the meantime, we need to collect our thoughts and memories, which will help in the rebuilding process. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the units of our council work together to help in the rebuilding process? This would be a remarkable experience! The energy created by this experience would last a lifetime.

Memories of mine are many: my son Mike working at Camp Wiley. This was Mike’s first paying job. Hiking the trail to the creek and relaxing amongst the shade of the trees. Cedar Badge. Snow camping and claustrophobic snow caves. Sharing time with the scouts of ScoutReach.

I look forward to lending a hand in the rebuilding process.

Tom Munoz

Tragic, We will miss the Old Gal!

We shall rebuild.

Keep Looking Up.

Thanks to God your safe John.

Bill Green

My family, and the Scouting families of Pack # 377, have enjoyed Helendade for many years and we are passionate about helping where we can. We all thank God that no lives were taken in the fire, the camp can never be replaced but the memories can provide strength to rebuild, and push forward.

Mark L. Farrin, Cubmaster, Pack # 377

We were sorry to hear the news about Camp Helendade.

Larry Widdis, Vice-President of Program, Verdugo Hills Council

What can one say of this camp? Great, wonderful, a home away from home … As a youth I was on staff at beginning in a time when Boy Scout camp was split between this council’s two camps and then shifted to only at Camp Helendade. I have many fond memories of spending summers here. I worked at the Webelos Woods programs for a few years just to spend more time there. I have attachment to both of council’s camps. The news of Camp Helendade’s demise leaves me very sad. I hope that when we rebuild this camp, there will be enough left of the old for memories to live on.

I was fortunate enough to spend a few hours at Camp Helendade after about 17 years, Friday night of Fall Fellowship. I am glad I went and wish I could have stayed the whole weekend. Memories live on and rebuilding efforts will show just how important this camp is for all of us.

Jerry Rounds, Eagle Scout, Troop 50, Indio

I am sad to hear about Helendade burning down, it was my favorite place as a Cub Scout. I am now in Boy Scouts and I am 12 years old and I am a Life scout. I was wondering if maybe I could help rebuild Helendade even if it won’t count for my Eagle project but I would love to help rebuild it. If you need any help please email me as soon as possible. Thanks.

Justin Harvey, Troop 309

Anything we can do in the future to help re-build Camp Helendade/Camp Wiley, let us know! A lot of us have taken its loss personally.

Rob Pitchford, Cubmaster, Pack 131

I feel as though a friend has passed. I started as a Scouter and ended up a staffer. A Wiley Eagle was the person to become. There are too many overnighters, cat’s eye hikes, bluegil, and catfish to count. There are the numerous chants, spirit awards, the songs and of course the rest of the crazy staff. Camp Wiley has been the pinnacle of cub camping for over 13 years. Tribe of Wisumahi was the reason to be a Webelos. Transition camp was intense… somehow we survived year after year. There is a reason our totem is the firebird. We get burnt out, fed up, and somehow managed to be recharged for the next session. We will rise from the ashes.

Summer Pearson, Crew 81: Infinitly #1

The buildings, and signs and even the trees of Camp Helendade have burned. This much is true. What can never burn are the memories of camping and fun, the meals good and bad, the learning, the smell of the camp when the snow started melting, the ceremonies, the cold,warm, perfect weather. None of these things will pass away as long as they exist in the memory. Trees grow back, buildings can be replaced.

My mom got into Boy Scouting to help my brother and I as well as avid Girl Scouting for my three sisters. She was a leader of both types of scouting. When my sister, Kathy Pagano, asked her to help with the cub camp all of her kids were fully grown. I asked her why she spent so much time at Helendade? She said, ” It is what a camp should be; close enough to be convenient and far enough to be remote-where smoke from a campfire clings to the trees and not the curtains in your living room.” She loved the place and served on many staffs as Jan the Dragon.

Steve Weller

Our experience with Camp Helendade/Camp Wiley has been the past 3 years my son has been attending Camp Wiley and Klondike. It’s where he discovered his passion for archery. His first year his Dad couldn’t peel him off his leg to run down and accept the first part of his Wiley Star. Since then he’s gained the confidence to bound down and stand in front of his peers. Each time at camp he’s been challenged to overcome some new feat and each year his Dad and I have watched him come away with personal achievements he probably never expected to earn. Two Feathers, Mama Bear, Swamp Thing, Little Swampy, Fin, Sunscreen, Pops, and all the other fun camp counselors were the structures for us. I think the great thing about Camp Helendade/Camp Wiley is that it’s not about what’s there, but what you come away with. And fortunately no fire can take that away. What’s there can be rebuilt and there is no better community of people than a scouting community to get it done. We’re all here to help.

Judi Pitchford, Pack 131

Sad day for BSA CIEC – we will rebuild.

Vern Goodwalt

It was exactly four years ago today that our Forest Lawn Scout Reservation camp was lost due to fire. It saddens us for this to happen to your camp. Please contact me if I can assist in any way.

Wade Hath, Director of Camping, Los Angeles Area Council

I’m so sorry for the loss of such a wonderful place. We would like to donate our registration for Haunted Helendade to the rebuild of the camp. I know it is just a drop in the bucket, but hopefully it will help in some way.

Cathleen Blackett, Pack 558

We are so very sorry to hear of the loss of beautiful Camp Helendade, but are grateful that the Riley family is safe. We spent many retreats with our Youth Ministry group as well as Boy Scouts at that camp.

Please let us know what assistance the Riley family needs to help them get through this difficult time.

The Riewer Family

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families that have lost their homes, the firefighters and police officers who are doing all they can and the families that have been displaced by this catastrophe . Thank God John and his family got out safely.

I am grateful that in June of 2007 I was able to visit our son for the first time at camp with my entire family. He has been going to camp since he was a tiger in cubscouts. We have any memories and pictures from camp. My daughters and son look forward to the day that they too can be a camp counselors.

Mike and Lacy Robitzer, Pack 97, Riverside

I was a camp counselor at Helendade in the summer of 1992 when I was 14. My father (Jim Schmidt), who was a district executive for the mountain communities, drove me up there every session from Victorville. I have great memories from that summer. I loved sleeping in those bunks in the cabins. There was a record number of female counselors that year so we took over the staff cabins!! I met so many great people who I am still friends with to this day. It was tough being a female in a Boy Scout camp but we all got along! I remember swimming in the pool, assisting campers in arts n craft, taking charge of the rifle range (LOL!), and playing skits around the campfire every evening. Helendade will be missed but I suspect it will be rebuilt, at least partially by next summer. I just wish I could be there to lend a hand but unfortunately I live in NY now. Camp Helendade WILL rise up from the ashes!!

Tracey (Schmidt) Phillips, Counselor Summer of 1992

As a former camper and staff C.I.T, I grieve for the loss of Camp Helendade. I participated in their Transition and Wiley programs and had fun helping out the staff. I remember the brilliant campfires and the wonderful skits preformed by the scouts. I also recall the overnighters and the Firebird trail, I will definitly miss the pool and the famous swamp. And I will of course miss the wonderful camp food made by the cooks. The range, Outdoor Skills, the Nature Lodge, Pool, Medics Lodge and all those other areas located within Helendade will all be missed. I look forward to the rebuilding of Helendade, and would be happy to volunteer for help.

Jared Leeong (Polywog)

My son and I were fortunate enough to attend Camp Wiley in June. I finally got to have some “guy time” with him there, and the memories are not only special, but they are forever. We are terribly saddend by the events that have taken place, but I see a bigger, better Helendade in the future. We all need to count our blessings that no one was harmed and we all should send our prayers to all of those that lost so much during these fires.

I am with Tom Cherry of Pack 257; my son and I (and I am sure the rest of the pack) are ready and waiting to help in any way we can.

Mike Bonacio, Assistant Cubmaster, Pack 257

I cannot say that I’ve had years of experience with Helendade. But I’ve had enough. Enough to feel a sense of loss. One summer of staffing is all I have to remind me of what a special place Heledade is.


I have no doubt in my mind that Helendade will be rebuilt. Just reading these memories (all of these people who have been touched) shows to me a strength that Helendade possesses.

Helendade has too much sweat to die. Riding on a car window, dancing in the kitchen to Garth Brooks’ song “Friends in Low Places,” answering questions like “if you were a fruit, what kind of fruit would you be?” during the entire Firebird Trail experience, hugging a scout because he just doesn’t feel good – these are my memories. This is the sweat of Helendade.

Lindsey Alarcon, Crew 141 Riverside

When my youngest son got up to get his third year patch at closing campfire of last summer’s Camp Wiley program it occurred to me that I only have one more summer of Camp Wiley. I sat looking at the silhouette of the towering pine trees against the star flecked night sky counting in my head the number of programs my boys have participated in. How many times have I made the drive from desert to pines for Camp Wiley, Transition camp, Klondkie camp, and Haunted Hellendade? How many years? Six…no seven. It felt like it has been more that that. Camp Hellendade was so familiar, surely I’ve been here all my life. A feeling came over me then that it was the end of an era. But I was able to dismiss my feelings of finality with the reassurance that I was sure to be back next summer. And probably after that, too.

Today’s flurry of phone calls and e-mails receiving and sharing the heartbreaking news hit me much harder than I could ever have expected. It was like losing a dear friend. The hardest part for me was knowing that I had to tell the boys. I told my oldest one first. His reaction was one that I did not anticipate. After I shared the news the first thing he said was “Mom, where’s the sign up list? You know, to volunteer to rebuild camp?” My youngest, like me, was sad. But he was also encouraged about the idea of rebuilding.

A dear friend shared a profound thought: the most refined gold is purified in the hottest fire. We have a community of gold in the people who contribute to Scouting in every way – great and small. Looking to the future, we have the opportunity to not only recreate a special place for our Scouts, but to strengthen our Scouting community in the process. I look forward, along with my boys, to being part of it.

Laura Schawacker, Pack/Troop 377

I am very thankful that John Riley and his family are safe and pray for the families who are effected by this fire and the firefighters who are doing all they can under extreme conditions to protect additional losses.

Camp Helendade has a very special place in my heart as this was the primary camp for my old Boy Scout Troop as a young Scout. I was blessed to attend Camp Wiley with my son Paul (Wolf Cub Scout) this last July. As I walked the camp with him, it was such an honor to share and re-live with him some of my cherished memories as a scout as he creates his own.

Camp Helendade will always live on in my memories and my heart. I look forward to helping contribute to re-build the Camp so that my son, and other scouts will be able to continue in their ventures in scouting. Although Ca,p Helendade will never be the same, its spirit will live on.

Robert Russo, Asst. Cub Scout Den 10 Leader, Pack 444

Years ago, when I was actively involved in the Venturing Officers’ Association, there was a lot of friendly argument about which camp was better, Emerson or Helendade. Everyone considered me an Emerson person. Despite this, Camp Helendade has been very important in my life. I look at what I’m involved in today, Training and the Order of the Arrow, and I’ve realized that some of my greatest experiences in these areas happened at Camp Helendade.

Camp Helendade is where I went through my first council training experience, Cedar Badge in ’94. It’s also where I went through my Order of the Arrow Ordeal in ’97. Just like Greg, I remember staffing Cedar Badge. I loved staffing Cedar Badge at Camp Helendade in the snow. And I cannot forget the countless Order of the Arrow Ordeals when I was on ceremony teams. Some of the best times of my life.

Brad Denbo

Thoughts and prayers are with all that were affected during this devastating time. Our family has been a part of attending Helendade for the past 6 years. We have had many good times there and have enjoyed being a part of the wonderful camps that my boys have been a part of. Thanks for all the memories…with hopes of more to come.

The Vicnaire Family, Pack 332, Wildomar

As Committee Chairperson of Pack 421 and a Cub parent, I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to accompany my son to Helendade the past two years for Camp Wiley. When we arrived this past summer, my son’s second Wiley, as we walked away from the freezing swim test – that is a memory that no one ever forgets – we turned to each other and said that it sure didn’t seem like a whole year had passed since we had last walked through the trees and paths. There was a timeless quality to Helendade that we found ourselves caught in amidst the pines and singing birds; our Venturing counselors remarked to us that they hoped their own children would be able to attend camp at Helendade someday. By the end of camp, my Bear den of eight year-olds were planning to be CIT’s as soon as they possibly could be, were already taking on camp names (my son now named Scrubby by his father for the outstanding job he was doing scrubbing toilets all week), deciding their future camp duty locations (Scrubby decided he would succeed Swamp Thing and Golum at the lake), and signing up for their third summer and the Firebird hike.

I find the representation of the Firebird phoenix to be very appropriate here, with a wish that Helendade rise from its ashes to even greater glory and that the boys’ plans for the future still be able to come true. But regardless of the future, it was the PEOPLE of Helendade who made it special, and it is the memories of those people who we will hold most dear – your commitment to the scouts and scouting are what we will always remember.

To Ranger John, Mama Bear, Two Feathers, Pops, and all the camp staff and people in the area – you have our thoughts, prayers, and support; let us know how we can help.

Roxanne Miller, Committee Chairperson, Pack 421, Corona

A few thoughts about Helendade,

Although I never spent a single night at Helendade, I was able to visit recently and was in awe of the new buildings and the wonderful rebirth the camp was undergoing. I understand the devestation caused by the fire, and the desperation of the ruin, but by remembering the wonderful memories had at such a fantstic place, we all can help Helendade become like the Phoenix and rise from the ashes to once again be host to scores more Cubs and Scouts in the future.

Matt Flanagan, Scoutmaster, Troop 634

I am a scout and went to Camp Wiley three years when I was a cub scout, and Transition Camp when I became a boy scout. I loved the wonderful trees and the outdoor feel of the camp. I loved the firebird trail – the sights and sounds. I loved to go to the nature lodge and take the nature walk at the end of the week with Miss Sue. I remember seeing all those beautiful flowers and seeing wildlife. I am sad because they had just made those new buildings and now they are gone. My hopes go out to all former camp helendade staff and the Riley family. I hope to see it rebuilt. I would like to plant 100 new trees at the camp.

Nathan Price, Troop 33, Redlands

My husband spent his early scouting years at Camp Emerson. When he applied to be on camp staff he learned he was going to Camp Helendade. He didn’t know there was another summer camp. He enjoyed his time there. Years later, he was chairman of the Klondike Derby for Grayback District. It was also the first time I slept in a tent in the snow. I still remember how great I slept that night. It could have something to do with me sleeping in 2 sleeping bags. My husband didn’t want me to get cold.

One of our prouder moments was when our sons found out they were elected into the Order of the Arrow. They couldn’t figure out why we were there that night. We told them we wanted to be there for the campfire and after they found out they were elected they understood. That was the beginning of 20 years of Scouting commitment and I am more proud today than I was that night.

It’s sad about the camp but I know Scouts can do anything. Be ready to make more memories.

Debbie Covington, Committee Member, Troop 8, Yucaipa,Troop 8 And the Mother of Tracy M. Schultze and Sgt. Steven Schultze US Army

My very first day camp as a Cub Scout was in 1984 at Camp Helendade. Being only 8 at the time, I don’t remember much from that trip, but I do remember the many trips up and down the mountain to the camp in the years to come. I remember the ride up to my Ordeal in 1989, attending summer camp, working on staff from 1990 until 1994 with many good friends in the summertime, planning and putting on skits, running the OA trading post, preparing meals in the old and new kitchens, as well as many other fond memories. Many emotions are felt when something like this happens and many memories become just that, where the images remain planted in our minds and only the topography of the land remains. My thoughts and prayers to the many friends and their families who are working through the devastation, but with the spirit of our actions strong, and the willingness of volunteers, I look to the coming days where our camp can once again be a place for new memories to be made.

Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service,

Alan Kay

My son and I were fortunate enough to visit camp at your last session this past August. It was a first time experience for me and my new wolf. We both had a great time and have great memoties. My son experienced archery for the first time and I think found a true athletic calling. Thanks to Fletcher my son is now taking classes and having a great time.

I surely hope it is not as bad as it may seem and that camp will re-build!!! My husband, who could not attend this past August, was really excited about attending camp with our son next summer. We are a law enforcement family and our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone one affected in these horrible fires. May god bless and keep you all….Long Live Camp Helendade!!!!

Austin & Lori Hall, Pack 346, Canyon Lake

It was with great sadness that I read your email regarding the probable destruction of Camp Helendade due to the Slide Fire. As you know I helped build Camp Helendade (then called Camp Running Springs) in early 1961 and served on staff there in the summer of 1962. As you also know, I created the design for the vulture that eventually became the camp’s symbol. Thus, I feel a very strong bond with the camp and its 50+ year history of serving the Scouting community.

At this point we cannot know the eventual fate of the site, but we can know that Camp Helendade, the most generous gift of Helen and Dade Davis, will live long and well in the minds of countless numbers of Scouts. It served us all well and we can only hope that it will rise from the ashes to serve future generations just as well.

Yours in Scouting,

Joe Rosenthal

I only stayed at Helendade once, but it will be a weekend I will always remember. My son and I shared a tent on the ice for which he received his Penguin patch, and I have the greatest shots of him and other Cubs flying off a ramp on their sleds. Fourteen boys and their dads shared an experience that will live forever. Even though the camp might be down for now, it will live on for the memories it has helped to create, and we look forward to its rebirth in the future.

Chris John (son Corey), Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 318, Murrieta

HD- Still and forever #1

This was the first real camp I had ever been to when I was 10 years old in CAMP WILEY “KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE” and it was and will be again the last camp that I ever work at. I spent a good portion of my summers staffing at Helendade working Camp Wiley, Wisumahi, Transition and what ever other crazy program they decided to throw at us (2001-2006). I was there for the Evacuation madness back in 2003 when the fires threatened Helendade during HAUNTED HELENDADE. Now, almost 4years to the day, the worst has come true for this tiny little haven many of us shared for so many years.

I will always remember the good times of staying up late, laughing with all the campers, being so tired we couldn’t move and having all the kids motivate us and laugh each and every night at all the campfires. I saw my share of the thousands of campers that went through the camp while I spent my years there and I will see many more come through again and again and again. I hope that anyone who reads any of these memories of Camp Helendade realizes that we can all make them and rebuild them with a little bit of work and the support of all of you. I will be back and I will help rebuild this camp and make it better and stronger than it ever was.

Thank you all for all the memories and fun that we all enjoyed, let’s go and do it again.


Back in the stone age, Camp Helendade was home to Buckskin. That’s where the first Buckskin course was held. As a Buckskin Scout, I remember shivering in the chilly night air in June with a hundred other boys as we waited to march from the assembly field to someplace unknown. We weren’t told anything by the staff other than to be quiet. We all thought something terrible had happened. Like a fire! Turns out it was the graduation ceremony! I certainly recall course crackerbarrels and the history of Scouting, told by John McKinnis — Wakoda — under the huge parachute erected amongst the trees near one of the parking lots. That was a great year for me in Scouting.

Then I staffed several times on Buckskin at Helendade. I recall the aborted attempt to stay awake all night with two other SPLs –Jeff Thomson and Brian Cahill — in the main lodge (remember how the fireplace divided the room in half?). Or the time I snuck cookies and crackers under my sleeping bag in the wall tent for a midnight snack only to find a raccoon got to it first. My first staffing as an adult on the course also was at Helendade, once for physical and later as program. The last time we had the course there was when Dr. Earl Thompson was the course director.

We always operated out of a little lodge somewhere in camp beside an area that we used as our Brownsea Field. I don’t remember its name.

It was at Helendade that the American Heritage Campfire introduced the song and arrangement of “America, America” that is still sung today. That would have been Thompson’s course.

Few people will remember Brownsea Double Two, the temporary replacement for Buckskin in 1976 as part of BSA’s All-Out For Scouting campaign. Bob (“Watashe”) Swartzel was the course director for this training course that emphasized scoutcraft skills. We roasted more than a hundred cornish game hens over a huge pit dug into the ground in front of the main lodge. That was some feast! We did some kind of pioneering event by the lake, resulting mostly in unauthorized waterfront activities!

I was last there two years ago to visit Cedar Badge. It was a short visit and I promised myself that next time I am in camp, I would explore its nooks and crannies and see all the new facilities.

While I have those memories, the two that stand out are the ones we all share: The amazing campfire bowl and the chapel with its grand view of the mountains.

Helendade was a wonderful place, and will always be when we remember it that way. I sure hope we do rebuild it for the next generation of Scouts.

Robert “RQ” Quezada

The memories are few but lifelong. As I try to put our feelings in words I realize that our sense of loss is really for the fellowship and people that made our experiences at Camp Helendade so meaningful. Frank and I (Therese) attended Camp Willey for the first time in the summer of 2006, shortly after the Old Baldy Council merger into CIEC. We were welcomed with open arms and warm hearts by staffers and campers alike. It was as if we had always been a part of the family and CIEC truly became my scouting family that week.

Frankie talked so much about the camp that for the first time ever our Pack went to resident camp in 2007. The five Cubs who went last summer were so excited about camp that it looked like we would have both a Tribe of Wisumahi and a Camp Wiley group for 2008. The material things lost in the fire were not why the boys wanted to go back. It was the people that made the experience great. John, Two Feathers, Mama Bear, Sue, Pops, and the rest of you, whose heart and soul were in the camp, thank you.

At first it was hard to believe that the OA Fall Fellowship was our last time in the camp, but after reading the posts here we are sure that the Firebird was a well-chosen totem. We can replant and rebuild and continue making memories.

Ed, Therese, Dale, and Frank Parker, Troop 607, Pack 605, WWW

I will now regret not having made the time to revisit Helendade. It was the site of my Ordeal and Brotherhood ceremonies. Ordeal was spent carrying tables up the mountain to campsites, along with other heavy labor with sturdier candidates in the fall of 1960. Arriving late the following year, after driving a 1951 flathead ford up the back road from Lucerne Valley, I remember crashing on the floor of one of the buildings, then spending the next day in service, finally being elected chapter chief of the Morongo chapter. Great memories from the end of my youthful scouting days. Hope the camp rebuilds. Certain amount of irony in that Helendade was born from the ruins of Arataba, its predecessor.

Wes Fish; Then Troop 73, 29 Palms

I was saddened to hear about the loss of Camp Helendade. While I cannot think of words to describe how much Helendade means to me, I am confident that anyone that has set foot there understands. Some of my best memories, Scouting or otherwise, occurred at Camp Helendade. They include countless weekend camping trips, attending Klondike Derbies, summer camp, OA Ordeals, and then serving on staff for many of these same events. I had the opportunity to participate in many worthwhile activities, and meet so many people that were influential in my life.

Although I live in WI now, I would love to come back to help rebuild. Camp Helendade is much more than just the buildings. Its Spirit and the memories we all share are truly what make the camp, and those can never be lost.

David Reed Morris, Eagle Scout

I’m sorry to hear about the loss of Camp Helendade. Pack 332 has a lot of memories. When the time comes, please contact our pack so we can help out with everything we can…clean-up, trash removal. We would like to help with what we can.

Luanne Vicnaire, Committee Chair, Pack 332, Wildomar

I saw the email regarding Helendade. Having gone through this before, I empathize with what you are having to deal with. Please let me know if there is anything that I can help with. Hope you and your family are safe.

John Fullerton, Director of Facilities, Orange County Council

There are too many memories of time well spent at Camp Helendade to put down on a page. I will never forget the Klondike Derbies, Camporees, OA events, Webelos Woods, and all the other events held at Camp Helendade. My favorite memory of Camp Helendade was spending a Father’s Day with my son as we worked together to set up the Scoutcraft area in preparation for the Camp Wiley season, where he spent several years as a staff member. I was also honored to be present at a campfire where a National Court of Honor was convened and he was presented with a National Medal of Merit for Lifesaving. I saw both of my sons grow from Cub Scouts to Eagle Scouts at various events at Camp Helendade. There are too many GREAT memories to list.

I remember evacuating from Camp Whitsett with my Troop in 2002. While waiting for word on the camp in a Red Cross evacuation center, my Scouts came to me in a group and asked if they had to go home. All of them said they came to go camping, and they didn’t care where we ended up, as long as they were camping. We put our heads together and came up with a plan, which was later named “Camp Refugee” and turned out to be one of the best summer camps ever. The Scouting Spirit can not be destroyed and Camp Helendade must be rebuilt to demonstrate to all the future Scouts that we never give up, even when faced with a monumental task such as the one that lies ahead.

Ron Melton, Former Scoutmaster Troop 210, Executive Officer Troop, Pack & Crew 1776

When I opened the email that brought the news that the camp was most certainly gone I felt as if I had just learned that a good friend had passed. I have been going there for the last seven years with my son. We have countless memories that we will be able to carry with us. Rebuilding will be a time for all of us to make all of the “I wish we had this or that” statements we have all uttered over the years happen.

Jocy McManus, Troop 377

The loss of Camp Helendade is tragic and difficult to fathom. I spent 7 years at Camp, three as a camper, 61,62, 64 and four on Staff, 65-68. These were wonderful years for me. Spending summers in the mountains and the rest of the year in Santa Barbara going to school. I remember it well even after 40 years. Living in tents or the Helendade Hilton next to the pool, eating in the Lodge, listening to the Coyote howl when the bugle was played and being so familiar with the lay of the land I could walk about at night without a flashlight. Friday campwide games and closing campfire with OA tapouts. We would make big torches with cedar knot chips stuffed in one end, light them and then use them to light the campfire (and, I must add, with someone with a hose coming behind us). We sure thought our skits were the best. I remember how much fun it was as we would choose a skit for Friday and then a troop would come up and do the one we chose, we’d chose another and a troop would do that one too. Finally we just waited for our turn and then chose one.

Thanks to Roger Mahaney, Dave German, Lyle Bull, the Dade’s and especially Peter Pitard for making those years so meaningful. And, thanks to the countless volunteers who’s effort and funds made the camp so special.

Paul Helman, Staff 1965 – 1968, Troop 49, Colton

Our family is devastated to hear the news about Camp Helendade. I never had the opportunity to go to a Cub Scout camp when I was a boy, but I have thoroughly enjoyed attending Camp Wiley for the last 4 years with my 2 sons. My oldest boy Chris just earned his 4th patch to complete his Wiley Star my youngest boy Nick still has 2 more years to go. 2 years ago we planted trees near the lake as part of a conservation project. We checked on their growth last summer at camp. Let’s hope for the best and we will be there to help rebuild.

Tim Janes, Eagle Scout, Cub Master Pack 346, Canyon Lake

This is such a devastating loss to me. As a boy scout in the 70’s I attended summer and winter camp here. I went to retreats by the Catholic Committee on Scouting and served as a weekend campmaster into my college days.

Years later as a dad and adult leader, I brought my own son to Helendade for several years of Camp Wiley, Klondikes and then CedarBadge. I have watched him grow up loving this camp as he too staffed events like Webelos Woods here.

I hope we can find a way to rebuild this camp, but please pray for everyone who have suffered losses to these fires.

Tom Waston, Eagle Scout, Summer Camp Staff 1974, Associate Adviser, Crew 90, Riverside

The incredible spirit of Buckskin boy leader training in 1972.

The silly songs at assemblies – Ravioli, Sippin’ Ci(der).

The deep shade on the trail from Whispering Pines to the Pool.

Competitions during Winter camp – improvising a racing sledge with an innertube, some long sticks and twine. Relay-racing to see which patrol can each eat three crackers and then whistle.

Staffer Karl Poppelreiter playing guitar and singing John Denver songs at campfire, and also doing the slapstick Polish Court skit with Gary Kruse (’75).

So deeply moving: the Indian ceremonies – OA callout at campfire, the Wisumahi Lodge Ordeals, and especially the night hike known as Honor Trail, where the Chief taught us we could be a self-protective lake that stagnates, or a lake that pours itself out down the mountain to bless all in our path, and be restored at the next rain.

Jay Parker, then (1970 – 1977) Troop 47 of Bloomington

Many of us here have fond memories of Camp Helendade and would like to do what we can to help.

When the fires are over is there anything that local Scouts, like our Pack (542) can do.

We are interested in doing anything we can from clean up of the camp area itself, to fund raising to help re-build.

Please let us know.

Semper Fi,

Joey Amposta

Just received the sad news about Helendade, anything I can do?

Got all of you in my prayers, take care and God Bless.

Teno Navarro, District Director, Catalina Council

It is a terrible tragedy that the fire has taken your Camp Helendade. We all struggle to provide quality facilities for youth programs in Scouting and losses like this just make our work that much more challenging.

Please let us know if there is any way that we can be of any assistance to your council.

John D. Maxfield, Director of Support Services, Los Angeles Area Council

Even though I have never had the pleasure of coming out to Camp Helendade I can tell from all the responses you’ve received it must have been a great place to camp. I am from a troop in Illinois and we wanted to let you know that our prayers and thought are with you at this time of great sorrow.

I have to agree with what everyone is saying, and that is you need to rebuild this camp. Even though I don’t know if my troop or myself will ever visit the camp I do think it is very important to show everyone that Scout Spirit will never be defeated not even by something as bad as this.

I am very happy to hear that no one was hurt by this terrible event at the camp ground.

I know this might not mean very much right now and I can’t even guaranty how much it will be but if there is anything Troop 495 or myself can do to help you through this difficult time please let us know.

Dave Neumann, Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 495, Elk Grove Village, IL

When my so David Morris called and told me we had lost Camp Helendade, I was Heart Broken. My family and I had fantastic times at this wonderful camp. The opportunities’ to work with several Eagles on the cabins and Building the new dinning hall. The many Klondaries cooking for the cub scouts and families.

Kathy and I loved being camp masters at this great camp. I remember the Order of Arrow writing and performing a Tiger Cub Graduation program in full costume and performing it on the lake. This camp will forever remain in my family’s heart and minds.

I only pray that we will rebuild this camp. You can count on my Family for support. Even though we now live in Elizabeth Colorado Camp Helendade is still my second home. This is where I did my brotherhood and was told that the young men had nominated me for Vigil Honor. This is also the OA Lodge who gave me what I consider my greatest honor The OA Founders award.

So from my Family, Kathy, Kari, Kim,David,Erica,Spencer and Sarah my best to all. I know that God is with you and though this faith we can rebuild the camp. Also our prayers are with the Riley Family.

Yours in Scouting

Rex Waddington

We will miss Camp Helendade. We’ve had many good times and great memories. We will always remember being tipped over in the swamp, staying up late playing cards when we should have been asleep, bb guns and archery, weather reports and nature, trying to splash camp counselors by jumping into the pool, bears roaming around the kitchen in the middle of the night, Two Feathers and Mama Bear. Thank you for the 4 fun years we spent there. Thank God everyone is safe.

The Lane Family

I just had to say that it was where I had first worked, growing up at 13 years old. The camp was down the street from where I lived, and was a chance for me to at least get time away from my house and be productive. After I got older and was able to earn a paycheck while working there, it continued to be my summer job.

It is where my Boy Scout troop would meet every week, it was part of my life. I am so glad that the fire fighters were able to save most of it, I was thinking from reading the scanner reports that it would be a total loss. I sit here in Iraq now, thinking back about those days some 15-20 years ago, and it has helped to shape me into the successful soldier that I am today.

Sgt Pitman, James, HHC 57th Sig BN, COB Speicher Iraq

I was a camper at Running Springs Boy Scout Camp in 1961. It was the first year of the camp, Pioneer Year, and my first year in Boy Scouts. I still have the patches. Living most of my life in San Bernardino and Riverside, that week in the mountains stood in stark contrast, it still does. I still remember the towering trees, gentle breezes, cool nights, and the smell of the pine trees. However, it was not a week at a resort. We slept in large green canvas military tents. It seems like they slept 10-15 scouts in each one. I remember that each patrol sent a small contingent to the main building three times a day to pick-up the food. We then carried and dragged it back to the campsite in milk crates, where we cooked over open fires. Each meal was an effort just to get something close to edible out of the messes that were our meals. As an 11 year old Tenderfoot, I must have been useless, except for dragging food back to camp. By the end of the week we would select a few easy items from the food crates for each meal, bring them back to our campsite and put together something to eat. When there was no easy or simple food, there were soft drinks and candy at the trading post. That was the first time that I ever had root beer and coke mixed together, on purpose. As gritty as it was, those memories are still sweeter than even doing 68 miles at Philmont with my own Eagle Scout son, Tommy.

The camp-wide camp fire was the highlight of the week for me, and not just because it meant we were going home soon. I remember Pete Pitard who brought happiness and fellowship to the campers, although I don’t remember his official role. I remember having one uniform, complete with a long-sleeved shirt and long pants (I never got cold!). And I remember being absolutely terrified that getting up in the night to go to the bathroom would most certainly lead to my death by being torn to pieces by a vicious flesh-eating bear.

As the years rolled by and we returned to Helendade, Running Springs became Helendade, the facilities gradually improved. Some of my last memories of Helendade were burned into my consciousness when I was elected to the Wisumahi Lodge and went through my ordeal there. During the Ordeal, I spent an entire day painting a building with red paint or stain with a pine bough tied firmly around my neck. And this was real oil-based paint, not latex. It took a few days to get cleaned up, but I was so glad to be in the Lodge, they could have let that bear have a piece of me and I would have been just as pleased. In those days, even though we had a large troop (Troop 36 in San Bernardino) with 50+ boys, we were only allowed to elect two scouts a year to the OA.

I moved to the South in 1970, where I have lived ever since. In a way that is good because my only memories now are how Running Springs Boy Scout Camp and Helendade Scout Reservation were almost 50 years ago. In my mind, the camp is still green, lush and beautiful. And that cool breeze still blows at night, rustling through the pine trees. A place where my little buddies and I could run in any direction, laugh and scream out loud, throw pine cones at each other and pull out the stakes of other scout’s tents.

These are the memories that uncounted thousands of scouts have now to look back on, as we recognize what has happened to our beautiful scouting paradise. I’ve got to stop typing. I can hardly see the keyboard. I am overcome. October 24, 2007.

Yours in Scouting,

Jim Pearce, Eagle Class 1965, Wisumahi Lodge 478, National Jamboree 2001, Philmont 2002, I used to be a Buffalo……….

Fire in the West is a fact of life. We all know it will eventually find us and we hope we have prepared the best as we can. I am sad to see the camp burn and am happy that the main set of buildings are mainly intact. The areas I loved about the camp were the outlying campsites. We haven’t heard about them, yet. My favorites are Rainbow Ridge, Eagle’s Nest and Secret Valley — the north and eastern campsites. I felt the most at one with the world in those sites. They contained spectacular views and were usually the warmest and coziest campsites there. Although I haven’t been to the camp in several years, it remains my favorite of all the camps I have experienced — including Philmont….

Having camped with my troop and supervised OA work parties many times there, there are many fond memories… Now that I live in the metro Phoenix area, I look at the updated pictures and experience a sense of relief. . Scouts and Scouters! Cherish what remains. Let me know how I can help…

Dick Stodola, Camp Helendade Ranger 1986, Associate Lodge Adviser 1991-1992, Assistant Council Commissioner 1996-1998, Council Committee 1998-2004

Camp Wiley has been a very special place to myself and my family. After my sons first year as a Tiger, I was not sure he would want to continue with scouting, but after attending Camp Wiley, there was no doubt. He is now a webelo 2 and has attended 4 sessions. My whole family has turned into quite a scouting family from my wife and I down to our 3 boys and I feel like Camp Wiley is partially responsible for our dedication to scouting. Please let us know if there is anything that our pack can do to help with the cleanup and the rebuilding.

Matt Kreg, Cubmaster, Pack 542, South Corona

I am a Cubmaster from Northern Illinois and have been keeping up with the news of your camp via your website. (It was posted on Cub-Scout-Talk) I am sure that you will be getting this question a million times over, but is there anything we can do to help? Monetary donations? Supplies? I would love to have out Scouts help in any way that they can. Please let me know when you get the chance. In the meantime we will keep you all in our thoughts and prayers.

Meg Struttman

As the parent of a son who has a lot of emotional and mental difficulties, I was crying last night when reading about Helendade. My son and I prayed and what a relief when part of our prayers were answered tonight and the damage is not as bad as previously thought. We just had our first Helendade/Wiley experience in July and the sights and sounds of nature were so awesome! So were the stall who helped my son get through the weekend and go home with a wonderful experience and with many blessings. He was in the hospital last week and we were looking at pictures from camp. We especially enjoy the one of him sitting on a bench from our Pack 332 and also video and pictures of him chasing a squirrel! We thank God for Scouts and look forward to helping with clean-up, re-planting and rebuilding of Camp Helendade. We also continue to pray for all fire victims, wildlife, the heroes helping put them out and all the wonderful volunteers helping those in this time of need.

Patsy & Brendan Den 3, Pack 332 Wildomar

Having heard from the news the fire was in the area, I went to check Inland Empire’s Council website for the first time in awhile. My heart was saddened to hear about the potential devestation of Camp Helendade. While I hoped not all was lost, I thought about my memories of the camp, mostly of driving up and down on weekends, in a council vehicle, to see Cub Scouts having incredible fun at klondikes. Some of those had more snow than others, but more often snow there than at Camp Emerson, as I sometimes had to be at both camps in the same weekend to support Tahquitz District units. I thought of sliding around in the icy parking lot as I checked on the plastic blue and yellow cups with fading letters, still being used on a near daily basis in my Michigan cupboard. Later in the day, I thought of meetings where lodge Arrowmen contemplated holding an OA section conclave at Helendade, though we ended up at Camp Emerson. Then I though of some Southern California camps no longer in existence: Arataba, Hunt, Ro-Ki-Li, Myford, Ahwahnee, as well as discussions on potentially closing Firestone or Rancho Las Flores. Then I thought of planting trees on several occasions after fires that had gone through Lost Valley Scout Reseration. Full circle back to Camp Helendade: phone calls and emails with Scouters throughout the country to discuss this tragedy. I know the council will arise greater from such a set-back, as it has in the past. So many people with strong memories of Camp Helendade, as well as a firm belief in what Scouting facilities due to change the lives of youth, parents, and leaders. I wish success to all who help in any form to rebuild this camp.

Leland Harrison, Former District Director, CIEC

A staff member for over four years now, Helendade holds a special place in my heart; my home away from home.

It seems strange knowing that the building I spent so much of time this past summer in is gone; the Nature Lodge and Med Lodge were burned along with the rest of the pool house structure. Playing with the chinchillas and the snakes, treating cuts and bruises, removing the countless splinters, and even explaining to Webelos that some forest fires are good for renewal… this was just over two months ago.

While some of the buildings may have burned, the structures were merely a backdrop for the memories I have. Scouts and their parents and the other staff members are all the reasons that I have enjoyed my experiences there so much. From Klondikes to Transition, it has been the program and the participants that makes it so special.

From countless “Beat the Heat!” chants and the amazingly silly songs to the sunset Scout’s Own services at the chapel, Helendade has always been more than a place; it’s been a part of the Scouting family. I cannot wait to help with the rebuilding efforts, and I am positive that we will make new memories about Helendade in the years to come.

Carla Kinnear, Staffer from 2003-2007, Crew 800, Yucaipa

I am very saddened about part of the Camp being burned, but grateful that it wasnt a total loss.

I would like to volunteer to help in the rebuilding process.I have 20+ years working in the concrete industry, from setting up simple sidewarks to doing house foundations, to working on 500,00 square foot warehouses.I also have a working knowledge of framing buildings, and I have limited experience in computer aided drafting. I also have a working knowledge of pool maintence.I also due woodwork as a hobby.I will help in any way needed.

During the time I was a Boy Scout, I might of missed a few of the “Due a Good Deed Daily”, and thought what better way to make amends.

I feel if you put out the call, you would be overwhelmed with all the physical help you would need,and probably alot of the material also.

Melvin Hall

This year was me and my son’s first time to Camp Wiley. Overall our time there was buisy and fun. We enjoyed the activities and the staff. We enjoyed the camp fires, skits and all the photo’s of everyone at camp. I hope there able to rebuild the buildings that they lost. And we will be up there again next year!

Carol Walls, Committee Chair, Pack 29

Hello, I am Lisa McGonegal-Smith from Central Michigan. My children are both currently involved in the scouting program here (C3623 and Troop 623).

While talking to my brother from southern CA who is also a scout participant with his family, I was informed of your fire at camp Helendade. I would like to be sure that boys in your district can enjoy the traditional camping experience associated with scouting.

If you would please let me know if there is anything we can do, I would appreciate it. Take care, and our thoughts are with you.

Lisa McGonegal-Smith

Just finally got to my computer. Saw the pictures of camp. My engineer with me on the fire engine lives up in Running Springs and it appears as the fire stopped short of his home. While camp suffered some damage it appears that a large portion of the camp survived. It was nice to see that the main lodge and the history associated with it are intact. A few baker tents and dining flys and camp is on with a 1920’s camping theme. I’m looking forward to Camp Wiley 2008 and the fun and friendship of camp. I have several people in my units that are handy and own construction related business. Let me know what you need and I’ll be more then happy to help.

Matt Brandt (Webmaster Note: And a GREAT Firefighter as well!)

My very first campout was at Helendade in the 70’s. As part of Troop 47 in Bloomington, I enjoyed it so much that all I wanted to do as a scout was camp at Helendade. I always looked forward to the winter camps and sliding down the hill on an innertube onto the frozen lake, trying to be the only one left when it reached the bottom. When my son joined scouting, his very first campout was at Helendade also.

As an adult I was proud to have helped in the construction of some of the newer buildings, but saddened to see them destroyed so soon. We have so many fond memories, too many to list here. (even setting up the teepees for summer) Now that my son is in the OA I am sure we will be back at camp helping to build a better Helendade.

Michael Hare, Asst. Scoutmaster, Troop 90, Riverside

My son and I are members of Pack 421 and I would like to say thank you for the great memories my son and I have shared together at camp. Unfortunately I was unable to attend last year but I pray that you will be able to rebuild out of the ashes a great place where families can come together as one and enjoy the value of life which the Scouts and Camp Helendade has to offer. In this world of fast paced survival it is nice to know that there is a group of people who still hold values dear to their heart. Camp Helendade is one of those institutions. Long live Camp Helendade and let’s not let the tragedy of the fire keep them down. We must all pull together and say a prayer for them. Thank God no one was hurt in this tragedy. Thank you for the memories and I look forward to many more new memories at Camp Helendade.

Frank Baldwin

I have memories that are perhaps the oldest of all; as a young child of 3 and 4 years of age, I used to live with my parents in a little house just west of the camp entrance up on All View. I clearly remember “Miss Poobah” the raccoon, the ranger’s house, the main lodge and many other places on the property. During the “off season” my mother and I used to walk down to the camp just to visit and say hello to Miss Poohbah…and get a cookie or two from the camp chef.

Now that I am much older (42 and counting), a Girl Scout myself and an Assistant Troop Leader to a Girl Scout Troop, I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I am that the majority of the camp was unharmed. I am equally sorry to hear that some structures were lost; but knowing and remembering the “can do” spirit of the staff at Helendade and Miss Poohbah’s tenacity for life in general, I’m sure Helendade will be back and better before the summer camping season.

On behalf of the Girl Scouts both locally in your area and everywhere, we wish everyone at Helendade well and send our sincere best wishes to all.

Samantha Allen-Newman, CP, Assistant Troop Leader, Girl Scout Troop 227, El Sereno/Alhambra, CA

It does my heart good to see the many responses to our camp situation. Although not as bleak as initially thought, what this has done is to ” rekindle ” the flame for many of us who remember the very beginnings of the Cub Camp Craze. From the inception of Camp Wiley, Mom and Me and beyond we know what is possible and what opportunities lie ahead. We did program with very little to start, operated summer camp on a volunteer effort ( a rarity) . We know what it is like to build from nothing. We’ll camp is far from nothing. Thanks to all who have made and will make Helendade exceptional .Camp Staff, Campers and yes even Camp Directors!

Much Love,

Tracy Youden, Camp Director 1991-2002

I am so glad that the fire damage to Camp Helendade is not as extensive as first thought. Fire perimeter maps of the Slide Fire clearly show that the camp was right in the middle of the fire’s path. It certainly seemed reasonable to fear the worse. Thanks to the fire fighters, it is clear that while our beloved camp is scared for now it is definitely not down for the count. Many of the structures still stand and much of the beautiful forest has escaped serious damage.

For at least the last five years, Pack 205 has enjoyed sending a large group of Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts to the camp for the Camp Wiley program. We have many fond memories and look forward to making more. Some of the scouts that enjoyed Camp Wiley so much are eager to go back when they are older to serve on staff.

Camp Helendade was built years ago by scouts, scouters and citizens in our community to see to it that our scouts would have a terrific place in the forest to visit. Apparently, now is the time for the current generation of scouts, scouters and citizens in the community to see that the camp is rebuilt – better than ever for future generations to enjoy. I hope we will be given the opportunity to lend a hand in the rebuilding of Camp Helendade. With the damage not as severe as it could have been, maybe we can see to it that the camp is up and running again in time for summer. That’s going to take some resources and some good old-fashion, back breaking work. I hope we are all up for the challenge!

Steve Banneck, Cubmaster, Pack 205 Chino

Camp Helendade meant a lot to me. People would joke and say that the camp was mine, because I knew it so well. Due to this camp, I ended up being put on a child leash. I had wandered off with the ranger’s dogs. I was found asleep behind Cabin Five. Camp Helendade was my favorite place to go when we lived in California. My father would take the scouts up there all the time, and the whole family would go. I loved the lake and my oldest brother would tip the canoes whenever I was in one. I will never forget how much fun I had there when I was little. My brother has already commented on here, and so has my father. This place means the world to my family, and if weren’t for the fact I am still in high school and live in Colorado, I’d help rebuild it in a heartbeat.

Sarah Waddington

Our favorite memory is the first time we camped in 2005 with my oldest boy and Swamp Thing tipped over our canoe. The swamp has the most memories for our boy’s in our pack. My son was a new bear scout and it was the best experience ever. It was is first time he shot a BB gun and archery, it was unforgettable and the staff was amazing. Another time was this past summer at Wiley. My friend and I were coming back from the restrooms and we saw the” Bear”. It was the worst night sleep because I was so worried, but yet the most memorable because of the bear. We were also there for Wisumahi 2007. The boy’s and I learned so much about the Native American history and crafts. I have 2 younger boy’s who are looking forward for their turn to attend Wisumahi. We have lost some buildings, but I am sure Camp Helendade will be back. We pray for all who have been affected by the fires.

Vanessa Klauser Hildebrand, Pack 310 Hemet

I am truly saddened by the fires that have swept through Helendade and the surrounding mountain community. The Webelos of Pack 1412 (formerly 919) spent their first ever resident camp experience at Wiley this past July. As our first resident camp, Wiley will always be kept in a special place in our hearts.

Our Pack is from La Mirada Ca, Los Angeles Area Council. We selected an out of council camp due to work and other scheduling issues. The dates for Camp Wiley were a perfect fit for our families for July of 2007. It was a great Choice.

I will long remember the look of excitement in my son’s eyes as well as the rest of the boys in our Webelos Den through the 4 days of activities in camp. From the drive up the mountain, the full and fun filled days, to the look of contentment on my son’s face as we left the camp and headed down the hill towards home… It was a wonderful experience.

Looking at the pictures of the fire damage brings tears to my eyes as I remember these locations where the boys, their parents and I had so much fun. The structures may be gone from the site, but the memories will endure.

Thank you for these wonderful memories. This is not just from a grateful leader, but from a grateful dad who spent this meaningful time in camp with his son…a time to be cherished.

There are now reports of a few out buildings being hit in Camp Pepperdine (Forest Lawn Scout Reservation) just over the hill.

Our prayers are needed.

May God Bless those who have suffered loss through these fires, those who are still fighting them and protecting the homes and scout camps, and those who will strive to rebuild Camp Helendade and Forest Lawn from any damage they received.

Daniel A. Fison, Cubmaster / Webelos Leader, Pack 1412, La Mirada Ca

It is so sad to hear and see all of the loss and destruction from fires going on in the mountains of Southern California. It is a blessing that more lives have not been lost. I am glad to hear that Helendade has made it through this latest conflagration virtually unscathed. I served on the Camp Staff there in 1971, 1972, 1973 and in 1974. It was such a fantastic and special place to spend my summers. I was so very fortunate. I learned so many of life’s good lessons there. The friends that I made there have made lasting impressions on my life and have carried me forward in such a positive and confident manner. While this fire is tragic it has brought together many of those that have been touched by their experience at Helendade. By communicating like this we are working to keep the spirit of Helendade alive……..

“There’s a hole in the bucket dear Liza, dear Liza; a hole in the bucket dear Liza a hole…….Then fix it dear Henry……….

Paul A. Lamb aka Boo-Boo…… MONTANA

We were so sad to hear that Camp Helendade was destroyed by the fire. I am a den leader of Webelos II. I have taken my boys to Camp Wiley every year since my son was a Tiger. This past summer we came to a regular summer camp and then returned later in the summer for Wisumahi. Our summer camps at Wiley have held some of the best memories for my Boys in Cub Scouts. We have so many pictures of all the great times they had there. Some of the favorites were Archery, BB shooting, Canoeing and Swimming. Wisumahi was the last and the greatest camp we attended. We went back to our pack to show off our dream catchers, rattles, beaded head bands and to share all our great experiences of Tomahak throwing, Learning Indian games, hearing stories of Indian lore and fishing. Our Webelos I den was really looking forward to next summer when they would be able to go. My den had plans to go up to Transision camp this year and Hike the firebird trail one more time. It would have been the 4th time for some of us. One of the greatest things about the camp was the staff, especially the ones that we saw year after year, like Two Feathers, Mama Bear, Swamp Thing and many others. They are the best staff you could ask for. They not only taught the boys things that will last a life time but they also taught some of the parents some things like when it is time to step back and let the boys do thing on their own. I will be forever grateful for all the great experience and memories that we had at Camp Wiley and I hope we will be able to come back as Boy Scouts to help rebuild.

Diane McLaughlin, Pack 90

In the Spring of 1961 Camp Helendade had it’s official opening ceremony. I was there as a “Lion” Cub Scout (the rank no longer exists – it has been replaced by the Webelos program) in the only group of Cub Scouts present amid a sea of Boy Scouts, professional Scouters, businessmen and Marines. As a camper I visited every summer from 1963-66 earning Merit Badges and learning to shoot from “Sarge”. As a youth I served on summer staff from 1966-69 as “Rocks” and then returned as a Scouter in 1982.

I’ve seen Scouting change over the years and Helendade has led the way for many of those new ideas and programs. As a Scout I remember the Elephant Tower, Nature Cage, Rifle Range and swimming in the largest pool I’d ever seen. As a Scouter I’ve enjoyed some of the best camping experiences this Council has to offer. “From Mom N Me” and “Dad N Lad” weekends, Klondike Derbies, OA activities, Boy Scout camps that moved from 3 weeks at Helendade to Emerson for another 3 weeks, Camporees that started at 9 PM Friday night and ran to 3 AM Saturday and, of course, Camp Wiley, the premier Cub Resident Camp.

Physically, the camp has changed from outhouses to port-a-potties to flush toilets & hot showers. From USMC squad tents to Baker tents to Quonset huts to family tents and wall tents. From Patrol cooking on Sheepherder Stoves to eating under a parachute to a central Dining Hall.

Camp Helendade has survived many things in it’s long service to Scouting. Lightning has struck in camp more than once. Drought has taken it’s toll on both the wildlife and trees. Wildfire too has threatened more than once before and this time it has done some damage. Helendade will always survive in the hearts and minds of all who have enjoyed what it has to offer.

Camp Helendade is a replacement camp for another destroyed by wildfire – Camp Arataba in Barton Flats. I hope Camp Helendade will be rebuilt and enjoyed by countless Scouts still to come. Helendade will always be a part of me.

Pat “Peaches” Rogers, Skipper, Sea Scout Ship 195 “Changing Tides” formerly: Cub Scout, Den 2 – Pack 16 Arrowhead Area Council

I had e-mailed and was so sad that camp was gone. I told my son and he was really upset and very concerned about the staff…especially Yoda and Fletcher. Once I explained that everyone was ok he then asked, when can we fix it??? At that moment I realized what scouts is teaching my eight your old son…help others.

So as I logged on and read the news about camp my heart was filled with happiness. As we looked at the pictures my son did not see devastation, but all the places he had had fun at this past summer. He then broke into conversation with his dad about everything that they could do together at camp…he was so excited to get to work and make the camp better.

So when the time comes you can count on us to help. My son also says that the guy’s at his dad’s work can help, because that’s what they do. So I am sure I can wrangle a few California Highway Patrolmen to help in the re-build!!

Again we are so happy to see some light at the end of a very dark tunnel. We also are keeping ones who have lost some or all of everything they have in our hearts. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and also our firefighters, law enforcement, their families, the volunteers, and now our National Guardsmen who are taking a stand to help others

God Bless,

Austin, Matt, Lori Hall Pack 346

Camp Helendade was my first summer camp. I was First Class, not advancing and had moved from Utah the year before, but that time at Helendade ignited a fire in me. I worked as a CIT at Camp Emerson, swam the Mile Swim twice, and became a BSA Life Guard by the end of that summer. I earned my Eagle 1 ½ years later. I don’t know how many times I’ve been to Helendade, Ordeals, Klondikes, Camporees, family camps, it was always fun. I think my best memories at Helendade are of performing OA ceremonies below the old campfire area and the nature trail from the campfire area to the lake. Anybody remember when Lee H. fell in the lake during the Preordeal ceremony? Eating in the old Lodge? Trying to stay dry while canoeing in the lake? Quiet winter hikes through the snow? The sounds of summer camp?

Please email me dates of any work parties after things calm down, I’d like to come back and help.

Stefan Gogosha, Past: Troop 14, Current: Troop 235, Orange County Council

I spent many days and nights at Camp Helendade, I was there for Scout camp as well as Order of The Arrow functions. I have more fond memories of this place than I can even begin to list! If I were to pick one it would be the first Ordeal I attended as the Lodge Chief for the Cahuilla Lodge #127. I had the privilege of spending the weekend with the dedicated individuals bound in brotherhood and service all working to accomplish a similar goal. That weekend I saw what people can accomplish together and can only hope that the spirit of brotherhood and Camp Helendade lives on in our current Arrow Men and campers alike.

Garth Olson, Troop 430, Lake Elsinore

Camp Helendade is in the memories of thousands of scouts, both youth and those that have transitioned to adults, and those adults who were our mentors. My first memories were several Cub Day Camps starting back in 1979. Add to that a summer camp and countless OA Ordeals, Klondikes and other events. The best is performing an ordeal ceremony on what was once called Eagle point above the rifle range with 30 mph winds but the view over the valley below was inspiring. While I have not visited Helendade for almost ten years I still recongnize the lodge and cabins and I can visualize the old handicraft lodge that is no more. In the end Scouts are resilient and will rebuild but thankfully the job is not what it could have been.

Major Rick Correz, Eagle Scout/Vigil Member/Founder’s Award Recipient, US Army

I am glad that they were able to save what they did at the camp, I cried when I first read that they expected a total loss. I lived in Running Springs many years and graduated from Rim of the World High School. But my memories of Camp Helendade are many, My first real memory was a mom & me campout, My son and I planted a tree, Today is his 21st birthday and he is an Eagle Scout. I am thankful that everyone is safe up there. Thank you to the firefighters that worked so hard.

Darlene Rindal, Pack 99 & Troop 430 Lake Elsinore

So many memories of Helendade this fire has brought back. My first time at camp was not as a camper but working on camp staff in the summer of 1973, just after the merger of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Grayback Councils. We ran camp for 7 exciting weeks, lots of fun and hard work. I remember Paul Lamb and I having to chase down a runaway Scout in Deep Creek and learning how to fish with my hands. I liked it so much that I returned to Helendade for the next 7 years, I didn’t think of doing anything else for those summers. I hope that all Scouts and a few non-Scouts will pull together and rebuild Camp Helendade.
John Barbee

My first trip to Helendade was in 1989 as a Tiger Cub for Day Camp. I remember siting under the parachute and watching an Officer and his German Sheppard K9 demonstrate attack commands. I remember my parents remodeling cabin 1, and sending me to go fish in the lake to get me out of the way. I remember attending Camp Wiley for the first time, sleeping in Grizzly Gulch and playing in a rotten out log. I remember my first boy scout summer camp was at Helendade, building a survival shelter, and barely qualifying on the rifle range the last day. I remember sledding next to the “no sledding” sign behind the cabins at Klondike. I remember my first OA ordeal as an elangomat. All the countless ordeals at Helendade on really great ceremony teams, I held a ceremony at nearly every campsite, and even one in the back of the Health Lodge. I remember my first week as a staff member at Camp Wiley where I worked at Scoutcraft and relearned how to tie all of my knots from Dragon, this time they stuck. I worked 8 summers at Wiley and earned my Eagle feather more than once. I remember hiking and co-leading the Firebird trail on the closing day of every single session I worked. Che Che Coo Lay. I learned to fire a bow and black powder. I learned to love the art of Canoeing. I feel that I learned what was under every stone, up every tree, and even under the lake. I learned to fear raccoons, and respect bears. I learned to speak in front of people, lot of people. I learned of patriotism, and the value of friends. There are countless places ranging from the Lake down to Deep Creek and everyplace in between which I hold deep in my heart.

And more than all, I learned of the forest. My profession was chosen by Camp Helendade. While learning about Forestry, I learned about fire. While it seems evil and a bitter enemy, its a natural part of the ecosystem. The forest will be healthier from it, and while many of the trees will show black scars from the flames, nutrients cycled into the soil will help them grow bigger and stronger. I was relieved to hear that many of the buildings didn’t burn down, especially cabin 4. I’ve seen the camp change so much over the years, and this will be just one evolution. There are countless places ranging from the Lake down to Deep Creek and everyplace in between which I hold deep in my heart. The love for Helendade is deep in many…

Softly falls the light of day,
as our campfire fades away.
Silently each Scout should ask,
have I done my daily task.
Have I kept my honor bright,
can I guiltless sleep tonight.
Have I done and have I dared,
Everything to be prepared.

Elliott Brooks Camp Helendade (1989-2004) Swamp It

I am the mother of 2 OA 1st-year Boy Scouts for brand-new Troop 151. Our first visit to Camp Helendade was when the boys were 1st-year Webelos. Ranger John and Big John were there to help guide my sons along their first camping trip with my husband who was at the time asstistant Webelos Leader.

I am saddened by the pictures, but as you can sees the doors are still standing! Troop 151 is ready to clean up and rebuild as soon as they let us up the mountain. It’s sad to hear all the new materials for the archery range have burnt, but right now all of us are glad to hear that Ranger John and his wife were spared.

Whatever the camp needs, Troop 151 will be there with bells on. Ranger John, you know our number, give us a call when we can start to help clean up!!

Vicki Munch, Troop 151, Hesperia, CA

My heart was saddened to think of Camp Helendade burning but now after viewing the pictures I am amazed at what happened up there. Sad that the two newest buildings had to go, but, overall, a miracle that so much was untouched at the same time. I credit amazing firefighters and the good Lord above. My boys and I spent many summers camping at Wiley, Wisumahi, and Transition. Many memories come to mind but one of my fav’s was when Eli and Mambo started bidding on my son’s tooth in the dining hall and what a ruckus that ensued!!! The whole crowd was yelling and cheering and what did my son do? He turned down a $40 dollar bid to put his tooth under his pillow and got $2 from the toothfairy!! I’m sure he would make a different decision today, but it is a “priceless” memory. We loved the staff at camp from Peaches, Paula, Pops, Miss Sue,Wally and son Jeff ,Two Feathers, Mama bear, Ranger John, the kitchen staff (keep smilin’!), to all the great counselors Mambo, Gator, Eli, and of course….Swamp Thing whom I love singing to and embarassing with all my heart. 🙂 So many more, but so little good memory left. God bless Camp Helendade and the Boy Scouts of America!!!

Peggy Sue Lansing, Pack 90, Troop 176, Riverside, CA