Kids wait for pool time at Camp Whitier. (Courtesy photo)

United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County (UBGC) has been awarded a $150,000 challenge grant from the Mericos Foundation to help rebuild Camp Whittier, a 94-acre, year-round camp and retreat center nestled in the hills of Los Padres National Forest just north of Santa Barbara.

The camp was greatly impacted by the Whittier Fire in July 2017, and UBGC has been restoring the buildings lost in the fire, as well as adding additional safety features.

The camp provides 60 percent of the funding that keeps all UBGC clubs open, and allows the organization to keep membership fees low.

UBGC said it is because of Camp Whittier that the organization is able to provide scholarships to any youth whose family is unable to pay the $40 annual membership fee, and ensure no child is ever turned away.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Mericos Foundation for their continuous support of Camp Whittier,” said Michael Baker, CEO/UBGC. “I have no doubt that the people who have supported UBGC over the years, as well as those that have directly supported Camp Whittier, will help us meet this challenge.”

Every dollar donated to Camp Whittier until July 8 (the second anniversary of the Whittier Fire) will be matched by the Mericos Foundation up to $150,000.

There are two ways to give: Donate online at or mail a check payable to United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, PO Box 1485, Santa Barbara, CA 93102. Indicate on the check that the gift is for Camp Whittier.

— Tina Ballue for United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County.