Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria is best known for its youth summer camps, secluded oceanside retreats, and gorgeous setting among coastal Monterey Pines.
But on this Halloween, the 13-acre campus will transform into something else: a Harvest Festival—complete with a pumpkin patch, hayrides, face painting, caramel apple decorating, axe throwing, archery, and more.
Residents of all ages are invited to attend the free event, which will take place from 1 to 4 p.m., at the campgrounds located on 1473 Randall Drive in Cambria. Food and drink, including wine and beer from Hearst Ranch Winery, 927 Beer Company, and Stolo Vineyards, will be available for sale.
"It's meant for all ages, and not simply an open house or carnival for kids," Camp Ocean Pines Executive Director Andrew Boyd-Goodrich told New Times. "It's really for people just to have a great, beautiful time here with a beautiful view of the ocean."
- Photo Courtesy Of Camp Ocean Pines
- HARVEST FEST Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria is hosting a free Harvest Festival on Halloween. Kids and adults are invited to decorate pumpkins (pictured), practice archery, sip wine, and more on the 13-acre campus.
This is the second time the nonprofit has put on a Harvest Festival for the community, Boyd-Goodrich said, with the first taking place in 2019. It's all part of a recent effort by the organization to open up Camp Ocean Pines more to the public.
"We didn't do it last year for obvious reasons [COVID-19]," Boyd-Goodrich said. "But it was intended [in 2019] to be the first of many open house or public events we were doing. This is the first time in two years we've been able to get back to doing a public open house."
Attendees of the festival can expect to participate in a wide range of Halloween and fall-related activities as well as explore the camp's "serene grounds, including coastal Monterey Pines, Hammock Village, the Rainbow Amphitheater, and 10 beautifully designed straw bale cabins," according to an event press release.
Boyd-Goodrich said events like the Harvest Festival are great opportunities for the community to get to know Camp Ocean Pines, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
Donated back in 1946 to the YMCA by the Sibley family, the property was designed from the start to enrich the lives of local youth.
"The Sibley family had a huge ranch and they donated these acres—carved it out—because it was such a cool site for a camp," Boyd-Goodrich said. "So even from its founding, it was based on this idea that, 'I'm someone with resources and it's my responsibility to make sure other people have access to cool things like that.' That's been running through our history—this idea of giving back and service."
Like most nonprofits, Camp Ocean Pines went through tough times after COVID-19 hit. The camp's programming, built on bringing big groups together to appreciate nature, couldn't continue in the same way. But Boyd-Goodrich said that the predicament forced the organization to get creative and focus back on its core purpose.
"During COVID, we had to adapt how we did programs and who we served," he said. "For example, we couldn't serve large groups anymore, so we focused a lot more on families. We were able to run a family camp and do rentals of our cabins to family groups, which was a zig-zag for us. It was a good reminder for the board and I that the goal is [to help facilitate] meaningful experiences outside to connect with one another. How we do that can look many different ways."
Boyd-Goodrich said that local community members stepped up and supported Camp Ocean Pines through the lean times. Now, the nonprofit has expanded its youth programming, working with every grade in the Cambria school system to provide environmental education on its campus.
"We're getting all grades out for a single day to just experience their backyard," Boyd-Goodrich said. "Exposing people to their own backyards sometimes is such a big hurdle and we want to make sure they have those opportunities."
All of SLO County will have that opportunity at the camp's free Harvest Festival on Halloween.
"The key thing is that it's not only for kids, but for the kids in all of us, for a lack of a better way of saying it," he said. "Who doesn't like decorating a pumpkin?"
• Tar Creek Ranch's pumpkin patch is now benefiting two local nonprofits. Between Oct. 15 and 31, the ranch in Huasna Valley is donating a portion of its sales of traditional carving pumpkins to Lumina Alliance and Jack's Helping Hand. Located at 2514 Huasna Road in Arroyo Grande, Tar Creek Ranch is open Thursday and Friday from noon to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Δ
Assistant Editor Peter Johnson wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Reach him at email@example.com.