Sunday, November 28, 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow...

Before the snow

Winter Wonderland

Camp office, Sunday Morning
Troop 127 from Agoura came to Three Falls again this year for their annual winter encampment, and were rewarded with about four inches of snow on Saturday night. It worked out just about perfectly -- a little rain Saturday morning as they were driving up, but no rain in the afternoon. Snow overnight, which stayed on the ground most of the day. By Monday afternoon when they left the snow was nearly all gone.

They had a great time, shooting rifle and shotgun (they have their own certified instructor), doing geocaching, and having a big snowball fight at the fort, along with some advancement work.

We enjoyed meeting them and look forward to having them come up again next year.

Want to get your share of Three Falls snow? Click here for information about our upcoming Winter Camp weekends.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Making Camp Available to Everyone

Times have been tough for many families financially the last few years, and we don't want the cost of camp to prevent deserving boys from being able to attend summer camp. Ventura County Council has a limited number of campership available to help families whith financial need to send their sons to camp.

These camperships are meant to help Cubs, Webelos, and Boy Scouts who are members of Ventura County Council units to attend Webelos Resident Camp at Three Falls, Boy Scout Camp at Three Falls, or Cub Scout Day Camps run by local districts.

Click here download a campership application. Please read the instructions carefully and return the completed form to the council office.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Leader Appreciation Day Report

Terry Nelson, shooting sports  director and "Mr. Three Falls"
Thanks to all who joined us for our first Leader Appreciation Day at Three Falls this past weekend. We had some good conversations with Scouts and Scouters, got some suggestions on program offerings, and several offers of help in various forms. Summer Camp reservations are coming in from both in-Council and out-of-Council units, excitement is growing about some of the changes and improvements we are going to make, and we are looking forward to a great summer in 2011.

Thanks to Terry Nelson, Frank Royer and Bill Parker, who came up to run program for us. Thanks also to the Order of the Arrow for hosting us during their Vigil Weekend and providing the lunch.

OA setting up the tepee
Staff members Carlos Robredo and Arielle Gipson spent the morning with us, along with myself (Larry Tuck, program director), my wife Lisa (Trail to First Class and other projects), and Tom Sisolak (camp director). Joe and Sandy, our cooks from last summer, also came by to visit and agreed to come back next summer -- that's excellent news, because they are great cooks and all-around wonderful people. We collected staff applications from several of our visiting Scouts, too.

We had a good discussion among the staff members who were present about some ideas for program enhancements for next summer. Frank Royer, Scott Chandley, and some of the other folks from OA had some interesting suggestions for improvements to program areas that fit right in with my thinking, so we will likely be pursuing some of those ideas. I'll be telling you more about those projects as they develop.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge

When I ran the Scoutcraft area at Camp Whitsett a few years ago, one of my favorite merit badges was Wilderness Survival. It's one of the most popular merit badges at Camp Three Falls as well, and rightly so. Wilderness survival teaches the boys some important skills to take care of themselves if they should find themselves in an emergency situation in the outdoors -- and it's a heck of a lot of fun.

Should first year Scouts take this one? I have mixed feelings On one hand, it's good for them to learn, early in their Scouting careers, what to do if they get lost -- this is stuff that really could keep someone alive in that situation -- and none of the skills involved are beyond the abilities of an 11-year-old. On the other hand, the merit badge does assume some prior knowledge, like basic knots, firebuilding, and possession of a Totin' Chip. Also, it requires the Scout to spend a night in a shelter he has built, which is usually done in an undeveloped area outside the main camp. The boys are closely supervised by staff members and are quite safe, but I have seen some less-experienced campers who were so freaked out about spending the night away from their troop with no tent, that they couldn't make it through the night. That's not good for their confidence and self-esteem, which for me outweighs the value of earning a merit badge.

You'll need to evaluate whether your younger boys are ready for this -- maybe discuss it with them and their parents before letting them sign up for this badge. It might also help if they sleep out under the stars one night on a campout before going to summer camp, so they are at least a little bit used to spending the night without those nylon walls protecting them from the darkness.

Another requirement is to make a survival kit, and this really ought to be done at home before camp. I've even done it as a troop meeting activity in spring. Click this link for a document with my thoughts on what to include in a survival kit.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Geocaching Merit Badge Book and Patch Unveiled

Tom Sisolak sent me this link to an article with an update on Geocaching Merit Badge. The requirements have been circulating on the Internet for a while but there was no patch and no merit badge pamphlet. Apparently, both are now scheduled for release by the end of the year.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Three Falls Maps

Here's a topo map of the area around Three Falls that will be helpful if you plan to go hiking in the area:
Three Falls Topo

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Winter Camp

 Three Falls offers three weekends of Boy Scout winter camp. Camp usually has some snow in January and February, and many units drive to the top of Mt. Pinos on Saturday for snow play.

2011 Winter Camp dates are:

January 14-16
January 28-30
February 18-20

Winter Camp price is $35 per person, which includes a Friday night cracker barrel, all meals on Saturday, and Sunday breakfast program activities and a patch.

Remember, space is limited so sign up soon. The signup form is available from the council office or on the council web site -- go to the "Camping" page.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Three Falls and the Electronic Frontier

When we talk about a frontier theme at Three Falls, that usually means cowboys, gold miners, fur trappers, and the like -- which fits right in with our setting in the historic Lockwood Valley and our landmark Fort Lockwood.

But we're also moving into the 21st Century Frontier of the Internet. So far, there are three components (how appropriate):

The Ventura County Council web site:  This is the source for official camp information, documents and forms. Flyers and registration forms for both Winter Camp and Summer Camp are there now, and other information is being added regularly. We hope to have the summer camp Leader's Guide posted there by January, maybe sooner. Council switched to a new site format a few months ago and is slowly getting the site repopulated, so keep checking back for more information.

This blog: Maintained by our Program Director (that's me, Larry Tuck), the blog will give you the latest information about our plans (like this posting); advice for leaders; photos and videos; and other interesting and occasionally even useful ideas and trivia about camp. If you don't want to check in frequently, you can subscribe to our RSS feed and get updated when there's something new on the site.

Facebook: Our latest claimstake on the Electronic Frontier is a Camp Three Falls Facebook page -- check the sidebar column to the right on this page to see a link. There's not much happening there yet, but I'm thinking that during camp this will be a good way to keep the folks back home updated on what's happening at Three Falls -- kind of like the telegraph on the Old West frontier. (Oh my, that gives me an idea....)

Both the blog and Facebook give you the opportunity to become part of the evolution of Camp Three Falls by responding with your own requests and suggestions -- for instance, use the Comment space below to tell me what you think of how we can use the Internet to improve your camp experience.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Camp Three Falls Video

This is a newly-edited version of the Three Falls promotional video, with new music. Very cool!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Summer Camp, Winter Camp Forms Available

Registration forms for both 2011 Winter Camp and 2011 Boy Scout Summer Camp and Webelos Summer Resident Camp at Three Falls have been posted on the council web site. The Summer Camp site also has a colorful descriptive flyer that you can print and share with your scouts and parents. See the links at right -- they will take you directly to the appropriate download pages.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Orienteering Merit Badge Weekend

The Verdugo Hills Council High Adventure Team, in cooperation with the Ventura County and Western Los Angeles County Countil HAT teams, is running an Orienteering Merit Badge weekend at Three Falls, October 1-3. Scouts attending the course must be First Class, or bring a note from their leader verifying that they have completed Second Class and First Class orienteering requirements. Youth members must be accompanied by an adult leader from their troop. for more information, see the VHC High Adventure site at Click on "Training" in the left column, then scroll down to the Schedule of Courses.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Since 1933, Camp Three Falls has provided fun and adventure for thousands of youth and adults. Get ready for advancement opportunities, challenge programs, campfires, great food, fellowship and a lot of fun in the great outdoors. We look forward to providing your group with many wonderful camping memories to last a lifetime.

Camp Three Falls is located in the Los Padres National Forest at the base of Mount Pinos in the northern portion of Ventura County, approximately 50 miles north of Castaic Junction (Magic Mountain). The name is derived from the three waterfalls: North Falls, Middle Falls, and Bitter Falls, that are located on the streams running from the mountains above the camp. The camp is at 5,400 feet elevation with scenery of pinion pine trees, chaparral and sage. The summer weather at this elevation is dry and the temperature ranges from 70 to 90 degrees with cool evenings and crisp nights.

Facilities include an authentic log fort – Fort Lockwood, home to our handicraft and rendezvous programs – plus a 57-foot climbing tower (the tallest of any scout camp in California), a swimming pool, a lake, rifle, shotgun, black powder and archery ranges, nature and health lodges, a large indoor dining hall, a trading post and a wide variety of program activity areas.

Our camp is also the gateway to the Mt. Pinos wilderness area of the Los Padres National Forest, providing some of the best backcountry hiking opportunities in southern California. Many troops take their older scouts backpacking for a night or two before or after camp. Our experienced staff will be happy to make suggestions about nearby trails and campsites.


Three Falls is one of the few camps in Southern California to offer a summer camp program especially for Webelos dens. Webelos resident camp is open to boys who will be first- or second-year Webelos in the fall. Four days and three nights of camping gives the Webelos plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors, take a hike, go swimming, shoot BB guns, participate in campwide games, and complete many of the requirements for several belt loops and activity pins, including Aquanaut, Naturalist, Outdoorsman and more.


Thanks to our fine facilities and a top-notch staff, our Boy Scout summer camp program is second to none. We offer all the usual merit badges, plus a couple you might not expect – with a focus on providing a quality learning experience tailored to the needs to each boy, guaranteeing that scouts go home with not just a badge, but new skills that will last a lifetime. The same is true of our Trail to First Class program, which will help your new scouts build a firm foundation for years of future scouting. We are also one of the few camps in southern California to offer a separate Trail to Eagle week to give your Star and Life scouts a jump start toward Scouting’s highest award.

Of course, there’s more to camp than advancement, and Three Falls offers plenty of opportunities for fun, adventure, and personal growth for troops, patrols, and individuals. Unique features include Three Falls traditions like night climbing on our 57-foot tower; the Seneca Run (sort of a backwoods pentathalon); and Firequest (our midweek patrol competition). Recent additions are a revival of the Tribe of Matilija, our honor camper program; Frontier Survivor, a week-long series of challenging activities for older scouts; a low COPE challenge course for patrol and troop teambuilding; and GPS/Geocaching.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Three Falls Summer Camp 2010 Photos

Click on this picture to go to a Picasa album of photos from this year's summer camp.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hiking Lilly Meadows

I took some Scouts from my troop on a backpack trip to Lilly Meadows a few weeks ago. It's a beautiful hike up past North Falls into the Chumash Wilderness on the south side of Mt. Pinos. Lilly Meadows is a great primative campsite with two fire rings and abundant room for tents. There was no water in the creek right at the meadow, but there was water flowing a few hundred yards downstream near the top of the canyon.

One of the boys says he woke up in the middle of the night, looked outside his tent and saw a bear near camp. We did find bear tracks the next morning, so if you go, be careful with your smellables.

To get to Lilly Meadows, park just outside the camp gate at the end of Boy Scout Camp Road. Follow the paved road past the camp parking lot (this is private property, so stay on the road, please), pass the Forst Service mileage sign, and continue on the dirt service road. Just before you reach North Falls (about 2 miles) there is a signed turnoff to the right. The trail is quite steep for about a quarter mile, then levels out through the canyon for less than a mile to the campsite. The trail continues up the mountain to Sheep Camp and the top of Mt. Pinos.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Been There, Done That .... Oh, Really?

I was chatting with a local scoutmaster the other day about his plans to run an advancement-oriented weekend campout to help his younger scouts complete their Trail to First Class Requirements, and I suggested that Three Falls would be a great place to do something like that.

“Nah,” he said. “Our boys were just there for winter camp, and most of them went there for Webelos Resident Camp. They wouldn’t want to go there again.”

“Balderdash,” says I – or words to that effect.

My belief, based on 11 years as a scoutmaster, is that for the most part, the boys don’t much care where you go, they only care what you do when you get there.

Let me give you a couple of examples. When I was scoutmaster (not all that long ago) our troop was in the habit of going on a shooting outing every December. We always went to the same shooting range, which had nothing in particular going for it in terms of scenery or amenities, and no place to camp if you wanted to – but it did have rifles and targets. No one ever protested, “Oh, we don’t want to go there again.” Never even came up.

Every year for more than 30 years, our troop has gone to Joshua Tree for rock climbing. Same spot, same rocks. A few times someone (always an adult) has brought up the possibility of going somewhere else, but that idea has never gone beyond the idle suggestion stage.

Every couple of years, the troop goes rocket shooting. Our usual spot is a dry lake bed out near Cantil in the Mojave Desert. It’s about as unappealing a location as you could imagine, but no kid ever came to me and said, “Aw gosh, if you’re going there again, I’m skipping that outing.”

I could go on, but you get the point. In none of these cases are the kids going for the place; they’re going for the program.

Three Falls offers facilities for a pretty comprehensive range of scouting activities. Just ask, and we can set it up for you, including providing expert instructors if you need them:

* New Scout advancement work – from nature study to pioneering, map and compass to swimming.
* Pre-Camporee
* Aquatics Merit Badges
* Rifle and Shotgun shooting – recreational or merit badge work
* Climbing on one of the tallest climbing towers in Southern California
* Leadership development – Troop Leader Training, program planning conferences, adult leader retreats. Fremlin Hall is available for weekend rental at a very modest price, and includes comfortable furniture, white boards, and a big screen TV with DVD player.
* Run your own theme weekend – Mountain Man Rendezvous (see the slide show in the right column), Old West, Relief of Mafeking. If you don’t know what the Relief of Mafeking is, click here.
* Weekend family camp for Troops or Cub Scout Packs.

We’ve got the facilities for you to run the kind of program that will get your kids excited and make them want more – and if you’re in Ventura County or the San Fernando Valley, it’s probably closer to home than any comparable camp.

“The kids won’t want to go there”? Give them a little more credit – the kids know a good time when they see it – all you have to do is offer it to them.