White Stag camp began in the mind of a veteran of World War II, who had a vision of helping youth learn leadership skills. A refugee from war-torn Europe, Béla Bánáthy rejoined Scouting upon his arrival in the United States.
Founded in 1958
In 1958, Béla took a patrol of boys to Camp Pico Blanco in the Big Sur wilderness of Monterey County, California. He taught them the patrol method and the concept of boy leadership.
With hope, persistence, and the help of a few Scouting friends, his idea grew. Only six years later the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America began working with Béla to adapt the program for use nationwide. Since then tens of thousands of youth across the United States have learned the eleven competencies of leadership.
Move to the Sierras
In 1979, we began hosting our program in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Then, in 1992, we moved our camp from the civilized confines of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the wide-open Sierra Nevada, and in 2014 to Camp Cole in the Tahoe National Forest east of Sacramento. The White Stag Academy, formed in 2004, continues to provide the White Stag experience at a camp in Arroyo Seco, near Greenfield.
Role in Scouting
In 1974, the Boy Scouts of America published the TLD Staff Guide, which credited its origins in the White Stag program. During our long history, we’ve also contributed to defining leadership development for youth in South America and Europe.
Many of our attendees are members of the Boy Scouts of America but we also attract youth from different organizations. The White Stag youth staff are organized as Venture Crew 122. Our sponsor is the White Stag Association. During the six decades since our founding, more than 21,000 youth have learned leadership from the White Stag program. Hundreds of youth every year continue to enjoy the fruits of Béla Bánáthy’s vision, excited to learn leadership and have fun.
During 2018, White Stag Sierra attracted youth from California and beyond: Hong Kong, Mexico, New York, and Maryland.
For our complete story, see White Stag History Since 1933.