The YMCA Camp Arbolado Tradition

YMCA Camp Arbolado was born of humble beginnings. In the early years "cabins" were tent platforms, heat came from wood-burning pot belly stoves and each camper washed his/her own dishes after every meal. Only much later came the present-day modern cabins, gas heating, hot and cold running water, modern dish washing equipment (operated by camp staff), and landscaped pathways.

YMCA Camp Arbolado will soon be 90 years young, and throughout its history two things have remained constant: the YMCA's commitment to youth and emphasis on the love of God in our outdoor environment. YMCA Camp Arbolado is a non-denominational camp, in the Christian tradition. In all we do at camp we seek to further the Y's cause of strenthening community, strenthen our focus on Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility, and model and teach the Y's core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility.


YMCA Camp Arbolado offers a rich variety of program opportunities. Some are seasonal and "weather permitting," e.g. no swimming in January and no snow play in July. Here's our "menu":

Swimming, geology, archery, arts and crafts, astronomy, backpacking/overnights in the beautiful San Gorgonio Wilderness, campfires complete with singing, skits and storytelling, Native American studies, canoeing on nearby Jenks Lake, "gold" panning and ecosystem studies at nearby Barton Creek, dances, cooking, drama, high and low ropes challenge courses, hiking, mountain biking, nature study, non-denominational chapels, Rag and Leather programs, science, sports (softball, soccer, basketball, etc.), theme days, all-camp games, and snow activities in the winter.

Staffing and Supervision

During camp sessions (spring, summer and winter) for children from our local communities, campers are placed in cabin groups of 8-10 boys or girls of similar age, and supervised 24-7 by two highly qualified and caring counselors per cabin. Our volunteer counselors are trained to help the campers get the maximum enjoyment and personal growth from their camp experience.

Flora and Fauna

The word "Arbolado" means "the place of trees" or "tree covered place." The ecosytem of YMCA Camp Arbolado is typical to the San Bernardino National Forest. The Camp landscape is dominated by Ponderosa and Jeffrey Pine, Live Oak and Black Oak, White Fir and Incense Cedar, along with occasional Pinion, Coulter, and Sugar pine, Alder, and Manzanita. Shrubs, grasses and wildflowers complete the landscape. Wildlife native to the area include deer, bear, raccoon,  squirrels and chipmunks, and a variety of reptiles, birds, and insects, not to mention trout in the local streams and lakes.



YMCA Camp Arbolado is located on approximately 23 acres of land under special use permit from the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Camp is fully ADA accessible and can comfortably accommodate groups of 10 to 225 campers and staff for weekend or week long use.


Campers sleep in rustic cabins, complete with bunk beds, natural gas heating and electrical outlets. Twelve cabins sleeping 12 people each have detached bathrooms within 100 feet, complete with hot showers, sinks, and toilet facilities. Rio Hondo Lodge features indoor bathrooms. and 4 sections ("cabins"), two of which sleep 16 people, and the other two sleep 18. Bishop Lodge has its own assembly room and fireplace, with two handicap accessible dorm rooms downstairs and five bedrooms upstairs sleeping 2 to 4 persons each.


Our Dining Hall, "Lions Lodge", was constructed in 1932 by the Whittier Host Lions Club. Today it includes a fully equipped modern kitchen. Our Camp meals are "heart healthy," with fresh vegetables and fruits on the daily menu. Specialized menu selections are available upon request. Buffet and "family style" serving options are also available.

Lions Lodge uniquely features plaques made by campers and cabin groups dating from the early 30's to the present. richly lining the interior walls and ceiling buttresses. Today's campers can gaze into the lives of their predecessors from nearly a century ago.

Lions Lodge also features a large fireplace for indoor campfires during the winter season.


Meeting areas in Lions Lodge, Bishop Lodge and our modular facilities comfortably accommodate meetings of groups from 10 to 200 people. Audio visual and projection equipment are available.


Our camp Health Center is staffed by certified medical personell during summer sessions. We administer parent-provided and doctor-prescribed medication to campers, and see to their health and first aid needs. Even though it has been 10 years since our last serious injury at camp, it is comforting to know that hospital emergency and paramedic assistance are only minutes away.


US Forest Service campgrounds in the vacinity of YMCA Camp Arbolado offer opportunities for overnight outcamping so that our summer campers can have the experience of "sleeping under the stars."


Our tree-shaded outdoor camp chapel is perched on a hillside with a breath taking view overlooking the Santa Ana River Valley. The Frank Gates Memorial Chapel is named for YMCA Camp Arbolado's first executive director.


Over the years no YMCA camp experience has ever lacked memorable evening campfires. At YMCA Camp Arbolado our large outdoor campfire circle is center stage. Permanent wood/concrete benches can seat 200+, with elevated stage, two fire pits, available lighting and standard 115 volt AC power outlets.


The original Saunders Family Pool, having served campers since 1934, was recently replaced with a brand new pool of the same name. Here, campers can cool off from the summer heat and have fun with certified lifeguards always on duty. The new Saunders Pool is fully handicapped accessible with an entry ramp for wheelchairs, etc.

Ropes Course

We offer a permanent, fully certified ropes course containing seven high ropes elements and six low ropes elements. The low ropes elements are designed to help campers within a group learn how to work together to achieve a common goal, foster leadership, and develop communication skills. The high ropes elements are intended to foster individual self confidence and help each person go beyond their own pre-conceived limitations.

Nature/Crafts Lodge

In 1925 what is now the was the first permanent structure built at YMCA Camp Arbolado, our first indoor dining hall. When camp capacity expanded and Lions Lodge was built it became a nature center. A 1960s remodel resulted in today's Elizabeth Gammon Lodge, headquarters of our outstanding YMCA Camp Arbolado nature and arts and crafts programs. 

Other Program Areas

Other permanent program areas in camp include a play field, archery range, mountain bike course, Native American Teepee Village, Peace Park meditation area, Raggers' Point (ask a former YMCA camper about this!),

Interactive Brochure

If you would like to see a detailed pdf file interactive presentation of the camp facilities, complete with photos, click here. Make sure you have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. If you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer, it's free through the Adobe Acrobat Reader download web page. When you have uploaded the presentation, may need to adjust page to fit your computer monitor screen by selecting the zoom in or out control on the reader toolbar.

Camp Staff

Our campers' safety and welfare are our primary concerns. Consequently YMCA Camp Arbolado staff members and volunteer leaders are carefully selected and trained to understand a child's hopes, needs, and fears and how to constructively deal with any and all challenges. Many are "home grown," having started as campers themselves and growing up within the "Arb family". All undergo background checks on a regular basis and participate in periodic in-service training. Several serve today on the Y's camp committee and board of directors, to ensure that the cherished traditions and love that make Arbolado a special place are protected for generations yet to come.

For information on becoming a part of our staff/volunteer team please contact Associate Executive Director Suman Rana.

Stay in Touch

We encouage campers, parents, staff and alumni to stay in touch with their YMCA Camp Arbolado family via this webpage, and also via Facebook.

Sending Mail To Campers While At Camp Arbolado

When a camper is at Camp Arbolado, mail may be sent to him/her through the US Postal Service at the following address: [Camper's name]; YMCA Camp Arbolado; 42500 State Highway 38; Angelus Oaks, CA; 92305. We ask that you please not send candy or other snacks.

Application Forms

Camper, senior, and family application forms for the various Whittier sessions are available on the Session Registration Webpage.

Help With Your Camp Fees

By participating in our annual Kids-to-Camp Walkathon, and/or by selling YMCA Trail Mix, campers have the opportunity to help earn their way to camp. To find out more about this program click here (requires Adobe Acrobat reader, free through the Adobe Acrobat Reader download web page). Trail Mix for resale may be obtained from either the Uptown Whittier or the East Whittier YMCA program centers.

A limited number of "Camperships" are also available and are distributed based on financial need. For information on how to apply for a Campership, contact the Camp Office at (562) 907-6545. Apply early, since Campership availability and funding is limited.


YMCA Camp Arbolado is proud to be accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA).

Directions To Camp Arbolado

Click here for driving directions to YMCA Camp Arbolado.

Lease Options and Prices

YMCA Camp Arbolado facilities may be leased by lease by church, school, business and other groups throughout the year, subject to availability. To make leasing arrangements, e-mail  Suman Rana, or call him at (909) 794-6724. Fees and rates depend on the group size, reservation dates, meal requirements program and facility support needed, and an advance deposit is required.

Thank you for accessing this YMCA of Greater Whittier web page. If you have any web questions, comments, or suggestions, please e-mail, write, or call us. We would love to hear from you.

This Page Updated on Monday, April 9, 2012.