When my Senior Girl Scout troop started planning what they wanted to spend their cookie money on, we came up with a lot of ideas. New York City, Canada, Europe and House Boating, just to name a few. What we ended up doing, that won the vote and was in our budget, was glamping. Yes, it's spelled right, we went Glamping. Take glamor, add camping and you get Glamping. Whoo Hoo!
Our Yurts were the coolest combination of camping and luxury. Perfect for a group of teen age girls (and their leaders too!) What is a Yurt, you ask? Well on Wikipedia the definition is; a round, portable, bent, dwelling structure, traditionally used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. Thankfully we didn't have to go quite that far for a yurt. We picked El Capitan Canyon just north of Santa Barbara, CA, for a number of reasons. One was it's a fairly short driving distance, two there were lots of fun activities to pick from nearby and three the location was absolutely beautiful. As soon as we arrived we knew we'd made a great choice. Surrounded by oaks and sycamore trees, our yurts were awesome- up on platforms, they had real beds, electric lights, ceiling fans, WiFi and El Capitan State Beach was just a short walk away. Talk about an upscale nature experience!
As the Troop leader I wanted to make sure we were really camping- we're still Girl Scouts aren't we? We brought the camp stove, coolers full of food and fire wood for the evening campfires. We were still going to cook for ourselves. Our campsite was perfect. Outside the yurts we had a fire pit, a picnic table, super nice communal shower/bathrooms and the heated swimming pool was clean and inviting. All in all, looking good!
Once we got a bit set up, we went across the street to check out the beach. El Capitan State Beach is a beautiful rustic uncrowded beach, so different from the noisy, crowded beaches we are so used to in Orange County. After hanging out at the beach for awhile, we went back to camp, cooked dinner and had a campfire complete with, of course, s'mores. The unwanted visit from a local skunk (that came by to see us every night) was unnerving, but very much a camping experience.
The next morning started with a hike to the local llama farm. Facilities manager Larry gave us a private tour. The girls got to feed the llamas and the goats, the baby goats being the unanimous favorites. The cute kids entertained us thoroughly by leaping around and playing on their own little teeter totter and it was hard not to bring one home for our troop mascot! After a hike back to camp we made lunch and were off to the hills. There we found the Chumash Painted Cave. The Chumash Native Americans left some beautiful paintings that anthropologists estimate date back to the 1600's! We continued on up the hill to do more hiking, take some photographs (photography badge work) and do a bit of geocaching (my thing!!) After a quick trip into Santa Barbara to see the wharf- we were back to our yurts.
The next morning we were up bright and early and off to catch the ferry from Ventura to explore Santa Cruz Island, one of the 8 islands that make up Channel Islands National Park. It's like stepping back in time to an unpopulated and natural California. Santa Cruz Island is a pristine version of Southern California 100 years ago. Kayaking, diving, hiking, camping and photography are the most popular activities. We hiked and took photos and then lounged on the rocky beach to work on our sunburns! On the way back, in Ventura, we stopped for our one and only restaurant meal, at the 1950's themed Busy Bee Cafe.
Our last whole day the girls got to do separate activities. Half the troop picked horseback riding and half the troop picked surfing lessons. Circle Bar B Guest Ranch provided the horseback riders with friendly horses, awesome views and funny cowboys. It also looked like a fun place to stay at on it's own. SB Fitness Tours surfing instructor Kevin met the other girls at the beach and gave them a fun overview of surfing and a chance to try it themselves. They had a great time and even got up on the boards themselves. (well kinda!)
The last evening I got the girls to sing the song that was our troop song at the closing of meetings when they were younger- "Say When". I have to admit it made me a bit teary eyed. My girls are growing up so fast.
Our Senior trip was a success and I recommend El Capitan Canyon and State Beach for any troop or family trip. Even with our friendly skunk visitor it was the perfect combination of glamor and camping. Roughing it just became a little less rough. We loved it. Happy Glamping!