26 Miles Across The Sea

There is an article in today’s Daily News about how the Glendale YMCA has lost their lease on Camp Fox, on Catalina Island. The Glendale YMCA will end 80 years of running the camp on Dec. 31st, when management will be handed over to Guided Discoveries, a science-education group. It is worth noting that Guided Discoveries‘ one-year lease with the Catalina Island Conservancy requires it to give the Glendale Y priority use of the 3½ acre, 30-cabin campground on Buttonshell Beach, which will allow some 1,700 Glendale kids to continue to use it for their summer program.

Why did the Glendale Y lose the lease? According to the article, $1.2 million in repairs piled up in recent years. A landfill nearby required a cleanup, and a septic-system problem led the county Department of Health to cite the camp in 2003, though it was allowed to reopen at half capacity – about 9,000 campers per year. It does look like there was an effort to save the camp; I have no idea if that effort continues. The Glendale News-Press reports that despite negotiations throughout the year, the YMCA could not reach an agreement with the conservancy for a lease renewal. [I was there in March of 2003, and the beach-side cabins were closed] But each side is blaming the other: The Glendale Y said the push by the conservancy to open the camp year-round strained equipment and facilities, while the conservancy blamed the Y for letting the campground fall into disrepair.

The YMCA is negotiating with the incoming operator and the conservancy on how to best tackle the repairs. The Glendale Y has already spent some $200,000 on repair plans. It is worth noting that the lease with Guided Discoveries – for 8% of the camp’s annual gross income – will expire Dec. 31, 2007. Guided Discoveries would consider running the camp after 2007, but Glendale Y officials said they would not at this time. Any camp operator will still have to grant the Glendale Y priority access.

I see a problem with this. The Glendale Y is not the only YMCA to use the facility; a quick web search shows lots of local Y’s using it: Anaheim, Los Angeles, Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Triunfo… it is in use on weekends year-round by the YMCA. I spent a number of years at Camp Fox with Y-Guides (2001 pictures; 2000 pictures). It was my first time to Catalina, my first time fishing. I shared these firsts with my daughter, who also had the time of her life jumping off the pier, sleeping on the beach, and creating memories. I do hope that all local YMCAs can continue to use the facility, not just Glendale’s summer program. The YMCA does operate a camp at Two Harbors, but I don’t know if that is Glendale YMCA as well.