The return of the Pyles Boys Camp and the BBQ: an event with an impact

The annual Pyles Boys Camp BBQ has been a Bakersfield staple for decades, and not just because of the delicious tri-trip and brisket, but also for its impact.

“It’s a difficult experience to explain. It’s almost like magic, ”is how Emiliano Gamez, 16, described his first participation in Pyles Boys Camp in 2019. He said the camp had helped him connect spiritually with him- same. He said his mother saw a change in him when he returned:

“I have learned to be more grateful for the things around us because not everyone has the opportunity to go to a camp like this,” said Emiliano.

The multi-year boys’ camp, since its inception 70 years ago, has been more than just a field trip, according to Pyles Boys Camp BBQ President Alan White.

“The vision was to take disadvantaged boys who were starting to get into trouble, or had difficult family lives, or were in gang families. [and give them] a chance to go to the mountains for two weeks at no cost to their family. [They’d] learn teamwork, trust each other, work together, [and have] a structured set of tasks to accomplish each day. [They’d do] fun stuff like ropes and horseback riding.

Each of the four years is meant to build their confidence and leadership skills as they grow into young men, ”according to White.

Once they get out of the wild, boys from all walks of life participate in mentoring programs and have the chance to receive $ 25 scholarships for college or even professional education. Campers have become doctors, lawyers, judges and engineers.

“So that gives them a path from start to finish: from camper to what they want to be,” White said.

While Pyles Boys Camp was unable to organize their camping trip to the Kern River Valley last year due to the pandemic and the accompanying barbecue fundraiser, the two are back. . About 2000 community members attended the BBQ on Saturday afternoon.

The organization’s goal for 2022 is to serve 450 boys in Southern California, including Kern County, according to White. Annually, the BBQ aims to raise approximately $ 125,000. This money comes from sponsors, raffles and a three-tip dinner at $ 15 a plate.

“This is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year, so to be able to come back now and have camp again, and to have this barbecue, we’re all so excited,” White said. .

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Tommy Dodd

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