In part, one could say that my passion for, and longevity with Pyles Camp was inherited from my Dad, Lee McFarland, a pioneer California independent oil man and an acquaintance of Mr. Bob Pyles. Lee served as a Board Member of the Camp for nearly 20 years until his passing in 1994. I then accepted the responsibility of Directorship and have served for the last 25 years. We two McFarlands have served for well over half of the time of Pyles Camp has been “Daring Boys to Become Men.” I am very proud of this legacy!
My passion and support for Pyles Camp has increased over the years, as I witness this “Miracle in the Sequoias” in action. Every two-week period in the summer, groups of more than 70 boys come from neighborhoods in Southern California, AKA “The City.” They are embarking on a magical journey which will be transformative in their lives.
For many, it is their first time away from home. They experience learning and wilderness training, which includes hiking, camping under the stars, and confidence building, under the trained eye of their counselors and many other mentors and role models. Nearly all of our staff are former campers who have continued with Camp and earned the privilege of guiding these young men, most of whom become productive citizens in our society. Indeed, I believe that our Pyles Camp policy of offering summer jobs to nearly all former campers who apply for them, and our tradition of “promoting from within” may be the single most significant factor in our 70 years of success.
Two current senior members of our team exemplify this. George “Spider” Silva has remained involved with Camp since he was a first year camper in 1976. He’s been a worker, counselor, and volunteer consultant ever since, and now serves as our President of the Board of Directors. Likewise, Dale “Bamm-Bamm” Decker has worked for and served the camp since his camper year of 1995. He is now our Camp Director. Both men come from similar backgrounds and neighborhoods as today’s campers do. They have credibility when they speak of difficult family circumstance, and their ability to resist the negative influences of low-income neighborhoods. These men know from personal experience, and these boys listen.
Pyles Camp must raise over $1,000,000 each year to sustain our program. Over 400 boys being transported round-trip from SoCal, being fed and clothed for two weeks, together with insurance and staff to teach and guide them, is not inexpensive. In addition, we maintain a small full-time staff of four to provide our winter-follow-up program, and take care of everything leading up to the opening of Camp the following June.
This is where we need your help! We get funding from a number of generous foundations and individuals, many of whom have supported us for years. Our Board Members are also meaningful contributors. But costs go ever upward, and some years we fall short of the funding we need.
Please join us in continuing our efforts to sustain Pyles Camp for another 70 years and beyond. We welcome your input in recruiting new donors or foundations, participating more yourselves, or leaving Camp a gift in your estate. We would also welcome a call or note contacting one of us directly with your ideas.