SOURCE: Calamigos Ranch

March 25, 2008 08:02 ET

Malibu Camp That Shaped the Lives of Nearly 14,000 Children Invites Alumni Back to the Ranch for First-Ever Reunion

After More Than 60 Years, Generations of Former Calamigos Covered Wagon Club and Star C Camp Campers and Staff Reunite With Camp Founder

MALIBU, CA--(Marketwire - March 25, 2008) - Founded in 1947 by Grant Gerson, Calamigos Covered Wagon Club and Star C Camp impacted the lives of nearly 14,000 children for more than 40 years. Former campers from the Southland and across the country attribute their strong character to the early influence of Gerson, whom many have not seen in nearly 60 years. On April 5, 2008, camp alumni will return to the ranch, nestled in the Malibu Mountains, for a camper reunion and reunite with the man who instilled in them a philosophy that forever shaped their lives.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you...but do it first," Gerson explained. "I wrote that motto in 1944 to encourage my campers to be the best they can be. But also to be a leader by remembering my philosophy that includes the five points of the star -- reverence, loyalty, honesty, self-reliance and sportsmanship." These ideas became the foundation behind the creation of the camp and the Star C name, the first camp on the Calamigos grounds.

In 1947, Gerson founded the Calamigos Covered Wagon Club as a year-round travel camp for children. On weekends and during two four-week sessions, Gerson drove campers all over the western United States in a hand-built Chevy covered wagon that pulled a chuck wagon trailer. In the summer of 1947, Gerson purchased the 15-acre Calamigos ranch to teach outdoor living skills in the breathtaking Malibu Mountains setting. The ranch was a retreat for thousands of campers, ages 7 to 17, coming from local areas including Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, as well as kids from across the nation.

By 1949, the ranch became solely known as the Calamigos Star C Ranch Camp, a year-round boys and, later, girls resident camp. Each camp session, 120 children spent their days practicing archery, learning outdoor living skills, horseback riding, hiking, boating and arts and crafts. Gerson continued the tradition of picking up the campers from their homes in his covered wagon.

The lasting impact of the camp has influenced the lives of former campers for over six decades. "Calamigos shaped my character and influenced decisions that I have made in my family and career," one camper wrote to Gerson. "I would not be the person I am today, without the values instilled in me at Gerson's camp."

Pam, another former camper, explains, "I still live up to the five points of the star. I guess it became a part of me."

Destruction of Camp Records by Agoura Malibu Fire Makes Reuniting Alums a Challenge

Although an alumni reunion is scheduled to take place on April 5th at the Calamigos Ranch, locating former campers has proven challenging. In 1978, the devastating Agoura Malibu fire destroyed 30 years of history, records, collections and artifacts. Alumni who have been contacted are asked to help reach out to any other campers with whom they are still in contact. Reunion attendees are urged to bring their own memorabilia from their camp stay to share with guests and help recreate the camp's memory book.

The Gerson family ran the camp for almost 40 years until 1984 when the surrounding areas of the ranch became overrun with new development and trails were lost under newly laid concrete roads. Although the camp has since been closed, the beautiful grounds and facilities, now run by Gerson's son, Glen Gerson, are now a popular party, picnic and wedding destination, continuing the ranch's legacy of a scenic location for making memories.

For more information on the reunion or to reserve a space, please call 800-821-2097 or visit www.calamigos.com/upcoming_events.asp.

About Calamigos Ranch

Nestled in the shelter of the breathtaking Malibu Mountains, Calamigos Ranch, as it is known today, was founded in 1947 by Grant Gerson on 15 acres, as a year-round travel camp and operated until 1984, when the area outgrew the camp as the trails were cut off by development. Today, the 125-acre expanse concentrates on weddings, parties, management training, and company picnics for corporations.

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