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Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp Wards Return From Southern California Fires To Make Christmas Decorations For Local Communities

PINE GROVE – On Monday evening, Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp (YCC) wards returned from fighting fires in Southern California. By Tuesday morning the youth were making Christmas boughs for thirteen local communities. On Wednesday, the wards visited California’s historic Governor’s Mansion in downtown Sacramento to decorate the building with wreaths and other decorations.

It has become a long-standing tradition for the Pine Grove wards to provide this kind of decoration and community service. On average, the wards and staff of Pine Grove YCC produce more than 2,000 Christmas boughs for thirteen local communities.

“This program provides an innovative way for our youth to creatively enhance their skills, while working with their local community,” said Bernard Warner, Chief Deputy Secretary of the Division of Juvenile Justice. “This is just one of the many rehabilitation programs offered to youth designed to encourage civic service, and build confidence and self-respect.”
The huge sugar pine cones are harvested upcountry by crews in October. In late November the fir and Ponderosa tree trimmings, left after crews trim trees in conservation operations, are brought to Pine Grove Camp, located just off of Highway 88, to be assembled with the pine cones and some red ribbon. The camp takes reservations for the boughs all year long, and recipients compensate the camp for the ward’s time for each bough.
“A trip through the Mother Lode will give visitors a warm welcome this time of year as our Christmas boughs to add to the holiday decorations in local communities,” said Mike Roots, YCC Superintendent. “These wards not only work hard protecting homes during fire season, but also give back to the community during the holiday season.”     
Last week, Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp sent a strike team of fire fighters to Southern California to be on standby for the extreme fire danger because of the expected high winds. It turned out to be a good call by CALFIRE to plan ahead and have crews on the ready. The fire that started in Malibu consumed 4,700 acres and 53 homes before firefighters could contain the blaze. A week later, Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp returned from Southern California and immediately started making more Christmas boughs. This flexibility shows the strength of public service brought by the CDCR Youth Conservation Camps.