Overnight Camping Will Continue at The Ranch

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By Victoria Kertz, Special to the Independent

All of the tents and sleeping bags are stowed away for the duration of the year, but the historic Scout Camp will reopen when nights warm up in 2017 to nonprofit organizations serving underprivileged children. Once used by the Girl Scouts and the YMCA, the decades-old site nestled in a eucalyptus grove beyond the golf course at The Ranch at Laguna Beach is bonding kids and nature once again.

In approving the resort’s proposed renovations in 2015, the California Coastal Commission stipulated that the owners of The Ranch, Laguna Beach Golf and Bungalow Village LLC, must offer affordable accommodations to compensate for the additional density and expected room rates. Remodeling created an extra 33 luxury rooms and suites.

Managers devised a camping outreach program, which offers a two-acre campsite, tents, sleeping bags and lanterns at no charge to nonprofit youth organizations for a unique camping experience.

Campers set up for an overnight stay at The Ranch.
Campers set up for an overnight stay at The Ranch.

Last Tuesday, Oct. 4, the City Council unanimously voted to uphold approval of the campsite.

The decision denied an appeal by Laguna Beach resident Mark Fudge, who owns a home overlooking the golf course. Fudge contested the approval of the campsite granted by the Planning Commission in September in part on legal and environmental grounds.

Fudge has also filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court contesting permit approvals for the project by the city and the Coastal Commission. That suit is still pending.

Since June, the campsite has served as host to 12 camps focused on mentoring and education, according to Kurt Bjorkman, The Ranch general manager. About 250 children have experienced the peaceful splendor of Aliso and Woods Canyon, learned about local wildlife and explored tide pools at the beach nearby, Bjorkman said.

“We’ve been facilitating overnight camps for underprivileged kids in partnership with the Ocean Institute and other groups,” said Ranch co-owner Mark Christy. “To see the faces on those kids, and talk to them about their experience the morning after their camp out is to know we’re doing good things.”

Ranch managers are meeting with the Ocean Institute to solidify dates for 2017 camping, Bjorkman confirmed.

The program is available to qualifying nonprofits. Interested parties may inquire at The Ranch website.

 

Writer Victoria Kertz lives in Aliso Viejo.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Great job, Mark Christy and team, by doing the right thing for Laguna and the environment, and doing it with style! You’ve turned a tired old golf property into a beautiful, functional, fun and environmentally BETTER place. Shame on you Mark Fudge, for your unrelenting and unreasonable opposition. It’s time for you to pack up your lawsuits and get a life, perhaps somewhere else.

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