The Search for Lost Valley
As told by Howard Bear, 1979
Along about 1955 Camp RoKiLi was the only camp we had. Camp RoKiLi was started in about 1922 by the Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions (that’s where they got the name RoKiLi). This camp was approximately 11 acres; of which we could use about half. We were putting boys in there to the tune of 175 to 225 people at a time. So you can see we were crowded in. It was rented from the Forest Department; and about 1955 they came to us and said, “You can only have 125 souls in camp at any one time.” That figure included the staff, the Scoutmasters and the boys. After that we could not make the camp pay without charging an exorbitant fee for the boys going in there.
So we said, “Hey, we should be out getting some property of our own.” We started looking for property, but really not too hard. We just looked in our spare time. We looked in the San Bernardino Mountains. We looked in San Diego County -- many, many places down there. The acreage was either too large with practically no water or was not the mountain-type we wanted.
We found out about Lost Valley in 1958. In the early part of 1959 we went down there looking it over. There was a little trail going in there, but we had to have a Jeep to go in. I remember going in there and the closer we got to it the more my mind was made up, “We don’t want this; we don’t want any part of it; you can’t get in here in the winter.” Everybody was very negative.
The old road came in on the west side of camp and all of a sudden we looked down a thousand feet or so and there was Lost Valley; a beautiful valley with pine trees and oak trees. This was what sold me on the property, when we came on that brim and looked down. It was exactly what you’d want in a camp.
After we had bought the property we started out on a Capital Funds Drive; that was in 1960. Al Missildine was the Chairman of it and Al did a real great job. It was quite an experience. I’d never been through anything quite like it before. We started off as just a group of the officers, meeting every Monday morning at 7:00 AM in a restaurant. Eventually we took up the whole place so we decided we’d have to move. We kept getting more and more people involved in it; so we finally moved over to Allstate Insurance and we had our meetings in their big cafeteria.
What started out with 12 or 15 people ended up with several hundred coming to those breakfasts. The thing just grew and grew. Now that Funds Drive allowed us to get the Camp open in 1964; and then we went from there.
Now we have that new property, and in years to come we could go ahead and have four camps in there. We could have an Explorer Base Camp; like they proposed once, and it could be down away from all the rest of the camps. I think we have a great potential there for development, of what ever nature.
I think a camp history should be written because people are wondering about what happened in 1959, 1960 and on up to 1964. Anytime you get two or more people together you’ll get more than one answer to what happened. You can have a group of people look at the same subject and yet every one of them will have a different opinion of what they looked at.
Some time we’re going to be sorry if we don’t put this stuff down. If you don’t, you’ll have a bunch of us older fellows pass on and you’ll have no place to pick up your information. Then you’ll have everything muddled up with different versions.