Camp Helendade was a gift of Helen and Dade Davis in 1960 as a replacement for Camp Arataba. Arataba’s main lodge burnt down earlier that year. Despite the catastrophic damage to the camp’s most important building, the rest of camp went largely unscathed, with the First Aid Cabin, Pool, and other structures left intact. However, the land was a leasehold on Forest Service Land, and the donation of land in Running Springs represented a very important opportunity for the Arrowhead Area Council.
When the they read of the tragedy, Helen and Dade decided to Scouting a wedding present that Dade had given Helen; a tract of land near Running Springs. The property, soon to become a Scout camp, originally consisted of over 400 acres. Dade Davis organized construction of the new buildings at the camp. These were the main lodge, warehouse, commissary (now the rear of the new dining hall) and the Ranger’s house. To accomodate the Scout campers, 10 campsites were created.
In the beginning, Camp Helendade was simply named “Camp Running Springs.” However, Scout Executive Edward Saxton believed that the Davis family should be honored for their generosity and he proposed to name the camp after them. “Helendade” had a nice sound to it as well as contained their names.
The current rifle range was built by Edison employees and Scouters under the guidance of the NRA Range Certification Team. The only items that made it to the new camp from Camp Arataba was the camp Jeep and a trailer with 6 canoes that happened to be attached to the Jeep when the evacuation order was given!
Camp Helendade now spans about 90 acres, all of which is regularly used by the Council’s many Cub Scouts. Situated at just over 6,000 feet, Helendade is a year-round camp used for summer programs, winter klondikes, all Cubbing activities, as well as Boy Scout activities. The camp currently has five cabins, a main lodge, dining hall, and an Olympic size heated pool.
Other facilities include an archery and rifle range, a lake with fish, tents with platforms, and three major shower / restroom facilities. Camp Helendade is a fully accredited BSA camp. Camp Helendade is a great place for your Cub Scouts’ first of many enjoyable camping experiences. Thousands of Cub Scouts from all over Southern California visit Helendade and its’ well know summer programs, Camp Wiley, Target on Transition, and Tribe of Wisumahi.
Camp Arataba is still being used by its lease-holders since 1961, the Unitarian Church (History).
The Firebird was an apt logo for the camp, rising from Arataba’s ashes. Unfortunately, Camp Helendade would suffer a similar fate in the 2007 Slide Fire. Structures and property were burned, and some additional structures were lost after fire suppression efforts.
While the camp wasn’t destroyed, the sheer amount of destruction and cost to rebuild to it’s previous state were too much. Camp Helendade remained closed for most of the next 10 years and was sold.
The property is now called a for-profit resort called Getaway Big Bear, even though it is not in Big Bear.
Camp Helendade Information
Location: 2001 Wilderness Road, Running Springs, California
Years of Service: 1960 – 2018
Current Status: Sold and Closed, currently the Getaway Big Bear Resort
- Joe Rosenthal
- Tracy M. Schultze