The NEW Camp Hollywoodland : Operation Rebuild : Volunteers: It looked as if an arsonist had sent dreams of summer camp for inner-city girls up in smoke until the home builder and government cooperated in a crash effort to rebuild the camp.


For more than 60 years, Camp Hollywoodland has provided thousands of inner-city Los Angeles girls with their first summer-camp experience.

But plans for this summer's camping program and its craft classes, swimming, hiking, sing-a-longs and storytelling went up in flames three months ago.

A determined arsonist, in the chaos of the riots, destroyed much of the camp with two fires a week apart in early May. He even chopped up the camp's fire hoses, for meanness.

Destroyed in the flames was the structure that housed the main meeting hall, a 200-seat dining room and camp offices, as well as the camp director's house.

Rebuilding the camp would cost more than $1 million, according to the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, which operates the 33-acre camp tucked away in a rustic canyon beneath the Hollywood sign.

And Camp Hollywoodland would not be a priority in riot-ravaged Los Angeles, officials knew, so they scrambled for stop-gap measures--tents, trailers, sharing a nearby boy's camp--to salvage this summer's program for hundreds of girls.

Enter Bruce Karatz, president of Kaufman & Broad Home Corp., California's largest single-family home builder. Karatz read about the fire in the newspaper and interrupted a company staff meeting to tell executives he wanted K&B; to rebuild the camp for the city.

"I knew Camp Hollywoodland should be rebuilt," Karatz said, "because the benefits this camp provides inner-city children has never been more important or more needed."

K&B; mobilized a building industry coalition of more than 70 subcontractors, vendors and suppliers who donated labor or materials or both to the rebuilding effort.

The volunteers rebuilt Camp Hollywoodland in 10 weeks, instead of the two years that a project such as this would require, and dedication ceremonies of the new Kaufman & Broad Pavilion are planned for Thursday. Among those attending the dedication, along with Mayor Tom Bradley, will be Jackie Tatum, manager of the city's Department of Recreation and Parks, who worked with K&B; in the rebuilding effort.

"When Kaufman & Broad called and said they would like to replace the entire facility by the end of July, I couldn't believe it," Tatum said. "This is a dream come true for us, for the city . . . ."

Besides enlisting a small army of volunteers and donors, other major challenges were shortening the time line and cutting through the governmental red tape that typically slows a construction project.

Drawings for the new 7,500-square-foot pavilion were completed by the home builder's architectural staff in two weeks; normally the design phase would take four to six months.

The plans were presented to the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Committee and approved during a hearing that lasted only 13 minutes. "Hopefully, this will set an example others will follow," said Commission President David H. Simon.

Greg McWilliams, K&B; vice president and the Camp Hollywoodland project manager, said rebuilding the lodge required permits and cooperation from 15 different departments.

"Compared to the time spent obtaining permits on a normal project of this size, this is an incredible effort that everyone is extending to get the job done," McWilliams said.

Said Phil Albert, president of Concrete Construction Corp.:

"We had lots of cooperation from the other subs (sub-contractors) involved on the job. If the plumbers hadn't cooperated, we wouldn't be able to pour the concrete this quickly."

Albert's company poured about 200 cubic yards of cement for the main floor of the lodge and completed its work on the project in just seven days.

Camp Hollywoodland offers day camping as well as weeklong visits for inner-city girls ages 7 to 14. Between 200 and 250 girls attend each week.

"The one wonderful thing about the camp is that for a first camping experience, it's ideal," Tatum said. "Because it's close to the city, all the inhibitions the parents have about their children going away to camp can be resolved because the children are still so close to the city."

Karatz said he hoped this project would serve as a model of how government and private industry must work together to rebuild Los Angeles.

Tatum agreed:

"It's the trend of the future. With diminished budgets we'll have to call more on corporate, philanthropic and private donors to be involved in this kind of program to secure funding."

Times staff writer Bob Pool contributed to this story.

Fund Established for Contributions

The Department of Recreation and Parks has set up a fund for small equipment, office equipment and furnishings needed to complete the interior of the lodge. Those interested in sending a donation to rebuild Camp Hollywoodland should send their checks to:

Camp Hollywoodland Donation

Camping Section

Attn: Jackie Tatum

City Hall East

200 N. Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

For information, call (213) 485-5555.

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