Boy Scouts of America Los Padres Council to Reopen Outdoor School in 2023

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By the Boy Scouts of America

In 2017, it took the Whittier Fire only 45 minutes to devastate a 215-acre camp that has been at the heart of the Santa Barbara community for over 50 years. Located on the San Marcos Pass near Cachuma Lake, Camp Rancho Alegre has served over 10,000 boys and girls and their families each year prior to 2017. In addition to hosting Boy Scout camps, church retreats and community gatherings, Camp Rancho Alegre is also the site of The Outdoor School.

The Outdoor School, a program of the Los Padres Council of Boy Scouts of America, is a unique overnight environmental education program serving the Central Coast. In this outdoor learning environment, fifth and sixth grade public school children explore beyond the classroom walls and are immersed in hands-on outdoor environmental and STEM educational activities, hiking and exploring nature, opening doors to self-discovery, learning new skills and forging friendships that last a lifetime. The restoration of The Outdoor School is one of the driving factors behind the push to rebuild Rancho Alegre. Five years ago, 90% of the buildings at the camp facility were destroyed by the fire. 

“We have made progress with six buildings now in operation while eight buildings are in various stages of completion with the entrance road still needing to be widened and paved," said Carlos Cortez, Scout Executive & CEO for Los Padres Council, Boy Scouts of America. “But we still have much to accomplish to be ready for the youth of Southern California.”

The goal is to open The Outdoor School for the 2023-2024 school year. In preparation, over 60 volunteers rallied for a camp cleanup day on Saturday, November 5. Scouts, scout leaders, family members and others participated by cutting brush and weeds, clearing hiking and biking trails. The pool was cleaned, wood benches were made and a nature garden was restored among other facility improvement projects and tasks.

“This was a wonderful day – seeing our volunteers working hard while having fun,” said Glen Goddard, Camp Rancho Alegre Director. “We look forward to taking Outdoor School reservations beginning in March of next year. It has been a long wait for us.” Camps improvements can be viewed at For camp reservations, information, and other volunteer opportunities, contact Glen Goddard at 562-760-0256.

Serving youth in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, Los Padres Council aims to help chartered BSA organizations effectively use the scouting program and expand the use of the program to other community groups. Los Padres Council operates outdoor experiences through Camp Rancho Alegre in Santa Barbara County. It also delivers education to youth in Southern California through the operation of The Outdoor School.

“At Montecito Union Elementary School, the 6th grade culminating experience – that every child looks forward to – is visiting Rancho Alegre to explore nature and come together in the wild,” said Nick Bruski, Principal of Montecito Union School. “This critical resource provides our community and students hands-on experiences in nature that is a gift that will last them a lifetime and cannot be replicated in a classroom.” 

The Los Padres Council seeks funding for ongoing repairs and improvements at Camp Rancho Alegre, as well as funding for the operation of The Outdoor School. For ways to give, interested donors can go to the council website at or contact Kenneth Miles, Boy Scouts of America Development Consultant at 805-835-9456 or

About Los Padres Council:
Boy Scouts of America’s Los Padres Council annually serves over 7,000 boys and girls, ages 5 to 20, and their families within the counties of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. The Council was first chartered in 1919 and has promoted youth leadership, outdoor/conservation education, and family-based programs on the Central Coast through scouting and The Outdoor School Program. The Council’s varied youth developmental programs include The Outdoor School, Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing, and Exploring. All of Los Padres Council’s programs are inclusive and meant to develop young people into leaders and the best versions of themselves as they grow and thrive into adulthood. 

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Thomas John Nov 09, 2022 05:40 PM
Boy Scouts of America Los Padres Council to Reopen Outdoor School in 2023

I'm an Eagle Scout. And my memories of scouting are some of the best from my youth. But the way the Boy Scouts dealt with both abuse and orientation issues has made me turn my back on the organization. If they figure out how to be both honest and relevant I'd more than consider helping them out again as the Scout motto directs me to do.

Plapidus Nov 10, 2022 08:10 AM
Boy Scouts of America Los Padres Council to Reopen Outdoor School in 2023

I understand the feelings towards the Boy Scouts regarding the issues from the past. It is unfortunate that it happened and was not dealt with properly at the time. What is being missed here is the recognition of the service that is provided to the youth that they cannot get from any other program out there. I was a scout. I attended Rancho Alegre as did my two brothers, My Son and numerous other kids from Carpinteria and the South Coast. We all still have fond memories of the Camp and the Scouting opportunities that we partook in as a Troop. Many of the Boys & now Girls come from broken homes or homes where the parents have no experience with the outdoors and the skills needed to safely enjoy the outdoors. Scouting provides youth with that experience. In an age where youth are suffering from mental issues due to the focus on all things electronic it is even more important to provide them with this opportunity to experience nature. I also attended the 6th grade camp outdoor school through the local public schools. Up until the Whittier Fire destroyed Rancho Alegre the Boy Scouts ran the Outdoor School program. The service they provided allowed for thousands of Local Youth to learn about nature in a beautiful safe environment. Again many of those student never had been exposed to the great outdoors until they attended the program. I wish people would get beyond the past history of the Boy Scouts and count the exponentially larger numbers of youth who benefitted from the programs provided by the Scouting program and the Outdoor School that they previously ran and hope to reopen. The punishment of the future youth for the misdeeds of the previous leadership is wrong. Scouting has evolved and recognizes they made some mistakes. They are back as a reformed organization that needs your support not negativity. They are in desperate need of funds to complete the Camp for the planned reopening. It would be great if the community would step up and help make that happen for the future generations of youth who benefit form the programs.

PitLocal Nov 10, 2022 08:47 AM
Boy Scouts of America Los Padres Council to Reopen Outdoor School in 2023

Thank you Pladipus. I couldn't agree more. Some awful things happened, BSA could have responded better - that's a given. The organization has been taught a painful lesson. Not to diminish the suffering that the victims have endured, but the number of abusers and victims is infinitesimally smaller than the number of young men whose lives have been positively affected by the Scouting program and adult leaders who are there for the right reasons. The Scouting program now even has troops for young women. I hope Rancho Alegre can re-open soon. Our local youth deserve it.

sbdude Nov 10, 2022 09:09 AM
Boy Scouts of America Los Padres Council to Reopen Outdoor School in 2023

I love that the Outdoor School is reopening. It has done such a good job for so many of our area's youth. As for Rancho Alegre, I hope that it reopens soon, too. I realize that the BSA at all levels has had its problems, but the desire to extract revenge and essentially shut down the BSA for the sins of the few really hurts the overwhelming majority of kids who benefit greatly from Scouting with no problems at all.

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