YMCA Camp Arbolado’s roots began way back in the early 1920s when the YMCA of Greater Whittier decided to expand its activities by acquiring a lease from the US Forest Service in Big Tujunga Canyon (near Pasadena) for a camp.
Severe drought forced moving the camp to the Barton Flats area of the San Bernardino Mountains in April of 1925, where it occupied portions on both sides of Barton Creek and was bound on the north side by the old State Highway 28. The camp name was changed to Arbolado, a Spanish word meaning “wooded” or tree-covered.”
Shortly before 1932, the camp had to relocate again since the site was to be used for improving and widening State Highway 38. Camp Arbolado was formally moved in 1932 to its 16-acre present-day location, north of State Highway 38 and just across the highway from the Barton Flats US Forestry ranger station.
YMCA Camp Arbolado has made a positive difference in the lives of countless youth and adults for over 80 years. It’s rich history and legacy lives on in those who have walked its grounds and their children’s children.
A gift of the Whittier Host Lions Club, Lions Lodge is rich in tradition and history. It is much more than a place where campers, staff, and guests are fed, Lions Lodge is a living museum. A testimony to all who have been enriched by the Arbolado Experience since 1932. Generations have left their mark in the form of plaques that adorn the interior rafters and walls.
Before 1932, today’s Nature Lodge served as the first original dining building.
In the earliest days of Camp Arbolado, campers and counselors slept in Baker Tents. When the camp moved in 1932, permanent cabin buildings were built.
The Arbolado Swimming Pool was originally built in the early 1930s and underwent a major renovation in 2005. It was renamed the Saunders Pool, in recognition of a generous donation from the Saunders Family.