Camp Fund Appeal Nets Only $20,500 Toward Goal

Times Staff Writer

School officials say they are still optimistic about raising enough money for a proposed $500,000 expansion of their sixth-grade camp in the mountains, despite a disappointing response to their plea for contributions of personal income tax rebates.

As of Monday, they said, the plea had netted only about $20,500. “That’s minuscule in terms of $500,000,” said Jack DuBois, associate director of educational partnerships for the Long Beach Unified School District, who is overseeing the drive.

For 39 years, Camp Hi-Hill Outdoor School near Mt. Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains has provided weeklong outdoor educational experiences for thousands of sixth-grade pupils and their teachers. Recent increases in school enrollment, however, have made it difficult to accommodate all of the would-be campers, prompting district officials to warn that next year for the first time Hi-Hill may have to turn away some youngsters.

The proposed expansion would add two children’s cabins and one adult cabin, bringing total capacity to about 5,800 students a year. Fred Partridge, Hi-Hill’s resident principal for the past 22 years, said the project would provide adequate space for about five years, after which the camp could probably begin operating year-round.

No Extra Funds in Budget

Because construction money in the district’s budget is already committed to projects augmenting regular classroom space, school officials about two months ago asked parents to contribute all or part of their 1986 state tax rebates to the Hi-Hill cause. Most of those rebate checks--which resulted from the Gann spending initiative and ranged from $80 to $200 per family--were sent out in November and December.

“The problem is . . . getting the message out,” Partridge said. “If somehow the word could get out for everyone (who has ever been touched by Hi-Hill) to make a small donation, it would amount to a large sum of money.”

Plans for augmenting the disappointing response include several grant applications to corporations, as well as a walk-a-thon scheduled for sometime in the spring. Anticipating the possibility that the final goal will not be met, school officials already are discussing the possibility of scaling down the expansion and/or initiating some summer operation before the beginning of the next school year.

“I’ve never cried wolf to the district or the people,” Partridge said. “It’s just going to get more and more difficult to continue operating the way we have.”