We invite you to Camp Mariastella to discover peace and beauty in a natural, rustic setting. Renew and refresh your mind and spirit in the wonderful pine scented fresh air away from the pressures and busyness of the city.
Camp Mariastella’s mission is to enhance the life skills of people of all ages, cultures and walks of life by fostering an awareness of the beauty of creation and the action of God in their lives.
Location and Climate
Camp Mariastella is located in the mountains of Wrightwood, California. It is adjacent to the Angeles National Forest in the heart of the San Gabriel Mountains. Northeast of Los Angeles, at an altitude of 6,500 feet, Mariastella offers more than 200 acres of pine and oak forest. The camp’s mountain location offers miles of hiking opportunity amidst picturesque forest scenery. The Fall and Spring months at this altitude are very enjoyable with cool days and cooler nights. The Winter season is chilly due to cold with periodic snow.
History and Philosophy
Camp Mariastella, Inc. is a not-for-profit camp that is chartered by the Sisters of Social Service. The Sisters, who had been involved in youth camping since the 1930′s, founded Mariastella in 1941. Their values are consciously reflected in the spirit and program of Camp.
The focus of Mariastella is outdoor recreation with a Christian, ecumenical setting. It has always been the Sisters’ philosophy that Mariastella should serve children and young adults from all walks of life. Mariastella is a place to come together, to recognize commonalities and to learn from each other through living together in a cooperative environment.
Youth groups from all over Southern California have an opportunity to “be still and pause a while” in a scenic, safe environment, where listening, sharing, praying and growing happen naturally. At Mariastella, the children are presented with opportunities for fun, friendship and a chance to explore their own values as well as their dreams. Mariastella is a place to be and make a friend.
Camp In The News
Article posted August 2014
Despite all the discussion about female leadership and the professional success of women after the publication of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book, “Lean In,” the director of the girls camp at Camp Mariastella says female-focused summer programs remain rare.
There’s something to be said about the female environment that can release and unleash some real potential.- Jennifer Gaeta, director of the Wrightwood program.
“We’re one of the few girls camps left,” said Jennifer Gaeta, director of the Wrightwood program. “And there’s a lot of emphasis on how female learning is enhanced when girls are alone together without the competition of males in their immediate vicinity for a little bit of time. There’s something to be said about the female environment that can release and unleash some real potential.”
Camp Mariastella, run by the Sisters of Social Service, has offered the girls camp for 75 years. Girls 7 to 15 from the Los Angeles area spend a week in the San Gabriel Mountains with the aim of gaining independence, confidence and inner strength.
The program offers five sessions each summer, granting “camperships” to many who can’t afford the full fee, Gaeta said. Most of the campers come from low- to middle-income families. Traveling from the city to the campgrounds gives them a sense of independence, Gaeta said of those used to only the most urban environments.
“At nighttime I see these lovely little girls, walking around with their flashlights as if they were the most comfortable in the world in the outdoors,” Gaeta said. “That just doesn’t happen at home.”
Activities including hiking, archery, swimming, crafts and a low ropes course are meant to give campers a sense of strength as well as an appreciation for nature. One recent week, the camp theme was strong women in history, and the girls performed skits about the lives of Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou and others.
“We believe it’s extremely important to help [campers] understand their limitations and how those can be turned into success,” Gaeta said.
Campers often stretch across generations, Gaeta said, as former campers become counselors and later send their own daughters to Camp Mariastella.
Kristina Thomas, 14, of Los Angeles has attended the last six years. She said her mom attended the camp and worked as a counselor.
“I really think the camp embraces that not only do girls have to be girlie girls, but they can be adventurous too,” Kristina said, adding that her favorite activity is playing on the volleyball courts. She went to two sessions this summer, and she hopes to become a counselor next year.
“It’s just like my home away from home,” she said. “It broadens my view of other people, and I get to know more people and make new friends.”
Come to Mariastella so you can experience a contemporary expression of how “He led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves.” (Mk 9:1).
Each Trail that winds among the pines Will always be in our memory. When evening campfires cease burning bright, When each last ember fades from sight, We go to rest and know that God Is watching Mariastella tonight.