Camp Pendola Moving 4/17/13

A new site for Camp Pendola

Catholic youths of Sacramento Diocese recall fond memories of summer camp

April 12, 2013 12:02:00 AM
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Camp Pendola will host summer celebrations on July 27 and Aug. 17-18 for former campers, alumni and staff. More information will be available later this year

After more than 50 years of campfires, campouts, skits and s’mores, Camp Pendola in Camptonville is moving.

The Yuba County camp has been a fundamental site for Catholic youths in the Sacramento Diocese, which encompasses parishes from the southern end of Sacramento County to the Oregon border. By the summer of 2014, the camp will be at the new space just off Interstate 80 in Colfax. A temporary name has been assigned to it: Camp Colfax.

Diocese spokesman Kevin Eckery said the Colfax property became available after a Legionaries of Christ order chose to leave the Sacramento area, resulting in the closure of the seminary there, Immaculate Conception Apostolic School.

Eckery said the diocese decided to move the camp very recently, and that it bought the site for an undisclosed amount. Property information from the real estate agent shows that the asking price for the 242-acre property in Colfax was about $1.7 million. Records with the Yuba County Assessor’s Office show that the Camptonville property and its structures are worth about $2 million.

The new camp site is less than half a mile from Interstate 80 and half a mile from Rollins Reservoir. It’s a big change from the size and locale of Camp Pendola, which is five miles off of Highway 49 and down a steep dirt road. The Colfax site is six times larger than Pendola.

There are a lot of possibilities for the new location, which amounted to “sort of a too-good-to-turn-down proposition,” Eckery said.

“It’s not so much safety, just that general feeling of remoteness. You want to go to a camp so that you feel out of the city, but you don’t want to feel marooned, like you’re out in the middle of nowhere,” Eckery said.

A fire in February 2005 at Camp Pendola destroyed a storage space called the barn along with the kitchen’s dining room. In its place, the camp built an activity building, with a game room and some small meeting rooms, for about $2 million.

Pendola Center Camp Director Lori Rosene said up until the fire, Camp Pendola was self-sustaining through fees for summer camp, a school science camp called Creature Camp and retreats. Afterward, the camp wasn’t able to get back to that point, she said, and the diocese was providing a “substantial amount” of funding in recent years. Despite those issues, Rosene said, the diocese wasn’t actively looking for a new camp.

“The most common question is — they just got done with all this building, how can they walk away? Not so much criticism, some people are just confused,” Rosene said.

She said the Colfax property had been idle at least 14 months until its owner approached the diocese.

Rosene said she just completed interviews for summer staff, and calls the move an exciting time for the diocese. “We get to develop a camp intentionally … for children and youth of the Diocese of Sacramento,” Rosene said.

The camp director said she acknowledges some former campers and counselors might be sad or emotional about the move, and people with strong ties to the Camptonville site are having a hard time hearing the news. However, she said, a lot of those people are alumni, not the current users.

“A lot of people are really disappointed because they have really wonderful memories of being campers and staff at Pendola for 53 years,” Rosene said. “I hope that people, regardless of our name changing and our location changing, will find new ways of continuing to support it.”

The Friends of Pendola continues to support outreach through fundraisers for camp scholarships.

Camp Pendola had 280 campers last summer.

Eckery said the diocese is looking for a master planner for the Colfax site, but for now, there are no plans for Camp Pendola.

Sutter resident Alison Allread Cannada started at Pendola as a camper and was a counselor in the mid-’90s. She said in an email that she is sad the camp is moving.

“My years at Pendola were some of the best in my life. So important, that I have made sure my own boys will have a chance to make similar memories,” Allread Cannada wrote.

Maggie Hutchison, a Chico resident from Yuba City, attended the camp 13 years ago, shortly after her father’s death that spring.

“The camp counselors were very nice. I remember my favorite, her name was Ms. Pearl,” Hutchison said in an email. “The experience of Camp Pendola was very much about bonding and learning to trust and respect one another — and, I mean, you’re talking 10- and 11-year-olds here. We had these team building exercises that I doubt most adults could get through without complaining.”

But Hutchison also said she thinks the idea of moving the camp to Colfax sounds great.

Damian Sagastume, a 33-year-old married teacher in Albuquerque, NM, who grew up in Chico, said he uses a lot of the things he learned at Camp Pendola in the classroom, like games that teach children about wildlife. He said he wants to send his three children to the camp some day. Over the years, he was a counselor, nature teacher and backpacking leader.

“I liked having the mining history and culture around the camp, but the camp can always acquire the aura, culture and history of wherever it moves,” Sagastume said in an email.

“I just hope that the camp isn’t too close to civilization that kids don’t get to experience the remoteness of being in the woods and that feeling of adventure that comes with being away from civilization.”

CONTACT Laura van der Meer at or 749-4771. Find her on Facebook at /ADlvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADlvandermeer.

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