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Whitsett Waterfront Revival

Defeating fire and flood: reviving Whitsett’s waterfront

The story of Camp Whitsett since 2020 is inspired as the camp not only made it through its first visitor-less summer due to COVID but also survived the burning of the Windy fire followed by multiple years of severe flooding and debris flow that ultimately silted over beautiful Lake Ida. Camp lives on! Now the waterfront urgently needs your help to rehabilitate and invigorate its future.


Friends of Camp Whitsett (FOCW) is championing a $50k fundraising campaign throughout 2024 to revive the waterfront. This campaign aims not only to correct the extensive damage done to the dock, pier, lake, and changing area from several years of severe fires and devastating floods, but also to enhance the waterfront for the future. We want the Camp Whitsett Experience to remain so youth and the young at heart can learn, grow, and play as they have done for generations already.

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 What the $50k goal will fund:

  • repair and refinishing of the entire wooden dock and pier
  • replacement of the shade structure on the dock
  • installment of a shade structure over the changing area above the lake
  • final dredging of the swimming and boating areas
  • adding changing stalls 

You can donate directly via bank or credit card, send in a check, or reach out to us with our contact form to donate via a retirement fund distribution or corporate match.


How we got here:

The Waterfront knows annual rain and snow weathering on its facilities, but the last few years have been extraordinary. As a direct result of upstream damage from several recent fires burning much more severely than normal coupled with the fires in Whitsett’s immediate area over that same period, the waterfront repeatedly flooded and Lake Ida was inundated with massive amounts of damaging debris and silt filling ¾’s of it, burying the docks and pier and causing structural damage.

Now, the dock and pier areas need significant repair to function sufficiently and safely for visitors and staff alike. Whitsett also wants to use this rebuilding year to enhance the changing area to address the reduced shade from the thinned trees due to fire and drought and also the need for more changing stalls to support the increased number and gender diversity of scout visitors.


Why your donation will make a difference:

It’s easy to simply say, “it’s fun to jump in the cool lake on a hot summer day”. But that doesn’t do it justice.

Lake Ida provides some the opportunity to play in ways they can’t back home. Camp provides merit badges on and free time use of canoes, kayaks, rowboats, paddle boards, fishing poles, and water polo equipment. And of course, camp-wide favorite games, Aquacade and the Polar Bear swims.

Lake Ida allows for growth in ways most weren’t sure they ever could. Scouts can earn swimming and lifesaving merit badges (required to earn their Eagle Scout) and awards, including the opportunity to attain the Mile Swim. Some youth even get their first-ever chance to swim outside of a backyard pool.

Lake Ida employs almost a dozen staff annually, most of whom are teenagers looking for their first job (and maturity opportunity away from home) or a chance to hone their skills to earn a lifeguard job back home during the school year.

The waterfront positively impacts thousands every year, most of whom keep that impact in their hearts for decades. And of course, the waterfront is a major draw for attendance, which in turn raises money to keep camp running. Without safe and sufficient facilities, these opportunities will cease to exist.


History of the waterfront:

Lake Ida, in the late 1920’s (decades before Whitsett materialized), began as a four-foot deep pond built by damming Nobe Young Creek with sandbags. Since those early days of “just a swimming hole”, the Boy Scouts partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to build a more permanent dam to grow a lake annually and construct wooden docks (the original by the dam and its replacement further upstream) to provide the space for recreation and merit badge instruction.

Thousands of scout troops, families, and non-scout groups from civic, governmental, and religious institutions have enjoyed the one-of-a-kind lake and swim area. Few camps around the country offer the water-based activities Whitsett does, and few people live near an alternative. 

Simply put, Lake Ida and the Waterfront built on it provide a unique experience that enhances lives.  Check out “The Camp Whitsett Story” for more history.


Whitsett needs you:

Western Los Angeles County Council has been able to invest significant amounts in the camp to revive it from the recent disasters and it continues to explore every option possible, including funding from FEMA. But Whitsett still needs your help and generosity to ensure every aspect of the camp returns to normal. Please consider helping Camp Whitsett recover and thrive by donating today.


Donations in $
as of  3/31/2024