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Camp Fire Central Coast, AmpSurf losing their longtime Pismo Beach home

Camp Fire Central Coast of California has been served a 60-day notice to vacate its Pismo Beach headquarters.
Camp Fire Central Coast of California has been served a 60-day notice to vacate its Pismo Beach headquarters.

Camp Fire Central Coast, which offers summer camps and after-school programs for San Luis Obispo kids, is looking for a new home.

Camp Fire executive director Kenneth Miles said the organization was served with a 60-day notice to vacate its office at 340 Pomeroy Ave. The building also houses the nonprofit AmpSurf, which helps people with disabilities through surfing and outdoor activities.

The building recently changed ownership and is being put up for sale, Miles said.

AmpSurf cofounder Dana Cummings said the news that his group would have to leave its home of 10 years came as a shock.

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“What’s unfortunate is no one reached out to us before they made the decision,” he said. “We had no idea this was coming down the pipeline.”

Cummings’ organization has already received an offer to use a local church for its office space needs, he said, but he is more focused on finding a way to allow both AmpSurf and Camp Fire to stay in their current spots.

“Hopefully we could figure out something,” he said Friday. “I just hate to see it get bulldozed down and turned into condos. There’s a lot of people with history there, and there’s a lot more good that can be done there. I just think it’s incredibly shortsighted.”

The change puts both groups in a sticky spot. They have each been in the building for more than a decade because of a trust from the previous owner that stipulated organizations that served local children could use it rent free.

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Camp Fire Central Coast was its first tenant under the trust when the camp group relocated 15 years ago.

All of the building’s tenants kick in money to cover utilities and any upkeep of the property, Miles said. That usually amounts to about $130 per month from Camp Fire, he said.

Everything else the organization makes goes to camp and children services.

“The urgency that organizations like us deal with every day is to meet community needs, and for us, it’s the need to support children and their families,” he said. “I think kids and families need us now more than ever.”

Founded in 1935, Camp Fire Central Coast operates several summer camps throughout the county including its day camp, Camp Tacanneko, and its week-long overnight camp, Camp Natoma. It also organizes after-school clubs, teen leadership groups and a community hiking program.

Camp Fire Central Coast currently serves more than 1,700 kids in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

“It is a crazy world out there: schools are not meeting all the needs out there, families are struggling to survive,” Miles said. “All of these contribute to children not realizing their potential. That’s what Camp Fire has been committed to helping.”

Miles said he and the Camp Fire board of directors have been ardently searching for a new spot, making calls to contacts and donors.

That includes a call to the Five Cities Mens Club, which bought Camp Arroyo Grande — where Camp Fire hosts its summer day camp — in 2017. Camp Fire and Miles were instrumental in launching the effort to protect the historic campground after its previous owner decided to put it on the market.

Miles said he reached out to members to see if Camp Fire could set up a portable office on that property or reach some sort of temporary arrangement.

“We had that conversation,” he said. “I’m not sure it was something they were interested in.”

In the meantime, the search continues to find a new spot before Thanksgiving.

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According to a news release, the ideal location would have office and meeting space of 500 square feet or less. Camp Fire Central Coast would like to stay in the Five Cities area, Miles said, though he would be open to elsewhere on the Central Coast.

Miles said he thought this could also be a good time to look for opportunities for expansion — by moving to a location near a park or school or other similar facility that would give the organization more space and access to kids to help them.

The most crucial element would be a low rent.

“To me, diverging some of those dollars to rent, when I could divert that to two more students — to helping them — it’s part of the urgency for why we need to find a good fit,” Miles said. “I don’t know if we can duplicate our (current) situation or not. Probably not. But we need to have as low rent as possible.”

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie
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