Under an unusual arrangement, the Boy Scouts of America will open a 110-acre camp in Rustic Canyon to the public, starting Thursday.
The opening comes in exchange for $250,000 worth of road- and water-system repairs paid for by the state Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
Camp Josepho, which accommodates 400 campers, will keep 20% of its spaces exclusively for Scout use on weekends. The remaining 80% will be available to anyone with a reservation. During the week, anyone who reserves a space will be able to use the camp.
"I think it's a great deal," said Joseph Ungaro, program director for the Scouts' Western Los Angeles County Council. "The general public can use this land, but the conservancy didn't have to buy it. And we'll be there. We still get to use the camp and supervise it."
FOR THE RECORD - Los Angeles Times Sunday April 26, 1987 Home Edition Westside Part 10 Page 1 Column 4 Zones Desk 1 inches; 24 words Type of Material: Correction
A map that appeared April 19 incorrectly identified the street leading to Camp Josepho as Rustic Canyon Road. The correct location of Rustic Canyon Road is shown on this map.
GRAPHIC-MAP: Camp Josepho, Los Angeles Times
The camp is little known outside Scouting circles and neighbors north of Sunset Boulevard and east of Pacific Palisades who sometimes hike or bicycle on the grounds.
"It is this hidden wonderful wilderness area in the middle of the city. It's behind all these houses," said Laura P. Young, a spokeswoman for the conservancy. "It's a chance right close by for people in this general Westside area to get to a campsite quickly."
The Scouts expect use of the facility to increase but are not sure by how much, Ungaro said. Neighbors said they do not expect any problems with public use on a reservation-only basis. No signs will advertise the camp's presence on Sunset Boulevard or other heavily traveled roads, said Young.
The camp was donated to the Scouts in 1941 by Anatol Josepho, who was born in Siberia, fled the Russian Revolution and prospered in California. His inventions included an inverted screwdriver for bone surgery and the Photomaton, a coin-operated portrait booth.
Gesture of Gratitude
According to "Rustic Canyon," written by local historian Betty Lou Young, Josepho wanted to thank his adopted country. For his gesture of gratitude, he bought the acreage north of his ranch and gave the land to his favorite charity, the Boy Scouts. Actor Leo Carrillo officiated at the dedication ceremonies.
A wooden lodge, archery range and rifle range are among the camp's amenities. Fourteen campsites with toilets and running water are scattered among the oaks.
In 1979, a road through the grounds was washed out after a fire and flood. And the camp's water was not always drinkable. The Scouts embarked on a capital improvement program and "some friends said you should look into the conservancy for a grant," Ungaro said.
Conservancy officials who visited the camp "just fell in love with it," Ungaro said.
But "we couldn't justify spending state money on private (property) unless there was public benefit," said Young.
In the summer of 1985, a deal was struck. The conservancy made the needed improvements to the camp.
"It's really been fixed up," said Gary Nathanson, who lives nearby and bikes often along the camp road. "It's beautiful."
On Thursday, the Scouts and the conservancy will sponsor a public rededication of the camp, with a series of short tours of the property, comments by officials of both groups and refreshments in the lodge.
For the ceremony, shuttle service from Capri Drive, north of the street's intersection with Sunset Boulevard, will be provided to the camp at 10:30 a.m. Shuttle service reservations can be made by contacting Young at (213) 620-2021.
After Thursday, camping reservations can be made by contacting the Scouts at (818) 784-4272.