Daring Boys to Become Men, Since 1949
R. M. Pyles Boys Camp is a youth leadership and character development program for selected boys 12 to 14 years of age. Over 28,000 boys have participated in our program since 1949. Each year over 450 boys from five Southern California counties are selected to attend one of our five first year sessions. Pyles Camp is not for juvenile delinquents. We seek to help our youth through a unique wilderness camp experience, winter follow-up, second year summer camp, leadership development and college scholarship programs. The focus is building self-confidence, setting goals, developing decision making abilities and learning that success comes only through significant personal effort.
In 1992 the Pyles Camp was honored with a personal visit from President George Herbert Walker Bush who designated Pyles Boys Camp as one of his Thousand Points of Light.
Pyles Camp is supported by fundraising special events, individuals, private industry and foundations in each local community we serve. Pyles Camp receives no federal or state funds, nor is there ever any cost to the boy's family.
R.M. Pyles Boys Camp promotes long-term positive behavioral change for low-income, disadvantaged boys by providing a multi-year wilderness camp experience supplemented by year-round mentoring that builds life skills and instills the values of hard work, education, and positive choices.
Early in the year of 1949 several associates of Robert "Bob" M. Pyles met together in common purpose: The desire to establish a living monument to a man whose personal life was dedication to finding and developing the good in all people. All of these men, employed in various phases of the oil industry in California, had at some time in their careers been deeply influenced by the great humanitarian qualities so predominant in the character of Bob Pyles. All of them in their years of close association with him had come to realize that he was a man whose success in life meant more than material gain; Bob Pyles measured wealth by the abundance of friendships he had harvested, sowing the seeds of faith, hope and charity in the hearts of his fellow man.
Then the question arose as to just what would be an appropriate gesture of appreciation and esteem to Mr. Pyles. It was not easy to find the answer. Idea piled on idea, suggestion on suggestion, but none was worth the purpose. During a camping trip in the Lloyd Meadow basin after a long day's ride, around the campfire, his associates asked Bob Pyles himself. "What do you want your legacy to be?". Bob got up and walked off from the group, sat upon a rock and thought.
"I should like," he said, "to find a beautiful site in the mountains; where the cool, clean air will fill their lungs and give children renewed strength and vigor; where the clear, flowing waters of a mountain stream will afford them a place to fish and swim and rebuild their depleted bodies; where the grassy meadows, the winding trails and the tall trees will furnish them the means of regaining free hearts and free minds, and instill in them once more a feeling of security, a belief in self, and the desire to become the finest citizens in the finest country in the world"
The wheels were immediately put in motion to create the R.M. Pyles Boys Camp: one final decision remained before the actual construction could begin: the choice of a campsite. This decision was left to Mr. Pyles, whose years of following mountain trails, hunting, fishing and camping more than qualified him to make the selection. So in the spring of 1949, Bob made a trip to see the forest supervisor of the Sequoia National Forest to request a site along the banks of the cool Kern River, high in the pine studded Sierra Nevada Mountains. Upon the receipt of the request and information as to the purpose of the campsite, the Forest Supervisor responded with a quzzical look and asked, "Who are you?"
Bob Pyles was born in the year 1892, the ninth of ten children in Mansfield, Texas. Bob grew up in what you would describe as an ideal family, built on love, respect, and devotion. Bob's father had an untimely and unexpected death, coupled with the sudden fire that swept through the family store destroying their only means of livelihood. Bob's newly widowed mother gathered together their few remaining belongings, with her children and set out for California. Bob's family settled in Kern County. He attended school until the 8th grade. In 1906 a depression had fallen across America; and Bob was forced to quit school at the age of 14 and search for work so they can help hold the struggling family together. His first job consisted of driving a mule team to Skidoo and Balrat in the heart of the California mining country. Young Mr. Pyles next job was in construction in the Oil fields. This is where Mr. Pyles stood out. His boundless energies and untiring efforts lead him all the way. Three decades later, Bob established himself as a successful oil executive. In 1928, Mr. Pyles devised a patent for a Rotary Jar.
"That was a good question," Mr. Pyles would chuckle as he would recall the incident. "I believe it what the first time in my life I have ever consciously stopped to think: Who am I? But I guess I must have known the answer, because we received a grant to establish two campsites designated as Upper Pyles and Lower Pyles along the Kern River, a year later we were permitted to add an additional site known as Camp Lloyd Meadows."
This record of accomplishment speaks for itself to those who were prompted to ask Bob Pyles, "Who are you?" It is a record reflecting the sincerity, integrity, and high purpose of Robert McDonald Pyles and gives us a better understanding as to why he dedicated his life:
“To find the poor and needy, the underprivileged children, whose bodies are undernourished, whose thoughts are clouded by fear, whose hearts are heavy from lack of love and understanding--- to find and rebuild them into healthier and happier generations of Americans, firmly endowed with the ideals and principles of our freedom loving country.”
These alone are the recommendations of a man whose life was lived with simple dignity, humility, and truth: whose experience endowed him with an abundance of faith in his fellow man, hope in the goodness of mankind, and charity of all humanity. A man who believed that a hand extended for a handshake is a helping hand.