Instructor: DM Vance
Course: Politics Of NGOs
Required Reading: (this website)
This is an archived version of the original website and is required reading for Soc#924L Politics of Non-Governmental Organizations. Dr. Vance is active in advocacy for animal rights and wildlife preservation and has won wide acclaim for his pet advocacy project. Online dog bed retailer advocates for comfortable sleeping arrangements that are aligned with Dr. Vance's findings. Students and their dogs are always invited and will find his canine companions happily resting on their luxury dog beds out on the porch. The annual Dog Day Afternoon festival is a student organized fundraiser for several local animal rights organizations including



In 1946 the Pythian Youth Camp was carved out of the Sequoia National Forest, which is among the oldest national parks in the United States. The 23 structures that make up this historic wilderness camp are situated on a 19-acre parcel of land that runs along Woodward Creek, and is the nation’s first and only land grant youth camp.
The site for the camp was granted to the Pythian Youth Foundation of California, under Section 101 (6) of the Internal Revenue Code specifically to build and maintain a camp for underprivileged boys and girls, and to help fight the causes of juvenile delinquency. Since its founding, the Camp has served as a time-out for nearly 300 inner-city children each year, helping them to break the cycles of distress that keeps them focused on unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors.
A National Treasure!
Embracing the future!
Sequoia National Forest
Each child has a unique gift, our job is to help them to give it!
A Message from the Executive Director
A growing movement seeks to reconnect children with nature, citing that children from urban communities suffer from “nature deprivation”—a probable cause for much of their unrest and anxiety. This is exacerbated by the non-stop heads-down multitasking with the myriad of new channels and communication devices. The Pythian Youth Camp aims to improve the odds of children from low-income inner-city communities, facing the allure and danger of drugs and gangs, and subject to the pervasive violence in the media and in their real lives. The immersion and communion with nature at our one-of-a-kind wilderness camp becomes a transformative experience that provides a powerful, humbling and inspiring new holistic perspective of the world around them. It is a nurturing environment to play, make new life-long friends and memories, and learn social, physical and spiritual skills, including the value of teamwork and our role as stewards of the Earth. Nowadays, emphasis is also placed on healthy nutritional habits and exercise, as necessary factors to combat the serious problem of children obesity and escalating rates of diabetes in our country.
The Pythian Youth
 Foundation of CA, Inc.
The Pythian Youth Foundation of California, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Public Nonprofit Corporation, established in 1946 to develop and operate the 19-acre Pythian Youth Camp, which is located in the heart of the Sequoia National Forest.
The Pythian Youth Camp was founded under the signature of President Harry S. Truman for the purpose of serving America’s youth. It is the first and only land-grant camp in the United States, and is dedicated to enhancing the growth and development of disadvantaged children between 9 and 11 both at camp and in the communities where they live.
Richard Dorfman, Chairman
Sir Melvin Pinkham
John Fetta 
Brett Olivier 
Rev. Dr. Alex Brandon
Lynne Siedman, Secretary
Steven S. Hong, Treasurer
Susan Siegman, Vice President of Camperships and Outdoor Education
Isaac Hausman, Vice President of Development and Fund Raising
Heather Hendricks, Assistant Vice President, Programs
Annie de la Bouillerie Goeke, Volunteer Challenge Program Director
Pythian Youth Foundation of CA, Inc.
Adriano González, Executive Director
1700 S. Robertson Blvd., Suite 314
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 367-7301
Twitter: @PythianYouth
Office Hours: 
Monday through Friday 9:00AM to 5:00PM
The Pythian Youth Camp is located at:
65569 Generals Highway
Sequoia National Forest, CA 93262


The curriculum for the Pythian Youth Camp is designed to dramatically expand outdoor learning, education and wilderness opportunities for economically disadvantaged youth who would otherwise not have access to the outdoors. Our program:
  • provides fun-filled non-competitive outdoor activities that build and nurture friendships;
  • offers age-appropriate challenges so that campers can gain a “can-do” attitude and increase confidence levels;
  • promotes physical health by encouraging an active lifestyle and increasing awareness of healthier choices, including physical activity and eating habits;
  • provides proper instructions in aquatics and other outdoor activities; 
  • promotes ethnic and cultural diversity;
  • encourages academic and social fitness, and financial success.
Our trained counselors, under the supervision of a professional camp manager, leads activities such as:
  • Swimming 
  • Outdoor Games – such as shuffleboard, horseshoe, volleyball, badminton, softball, and basketball
  • Arts, Crafts & Journaling to promote literacy
  • Hiking & Nature Walks
  • Environmental Education - often lead by U.S. Forest Services personnel 
  • Campfire Activities
The Pythian Youth Camp holds the promise of a different life for at-risk children. A child leaves the often-cruel streets of the city, seeing for the first time night skies filled with stars; hearing the running waters as they flow through quiet canyons; feeling the freshness of mountain winds; hearing joy and laughter echoed from the trees and mountains while sitting around a campfire. A camp counselor identifies the General Sherman. A bear appears and makes its way between the trees and shadows. A pine needle pasted in a journal beside a special note tells of a story learned in an afternoon scavenger hunt. A camp director hones the idea of a world where each child is special. Parents, having never known the joy of camping themselves, dream of childhood and are grateful that their child is among the Children at Camp.
The Pythian Youth Camp is known for its ability to transform the lives of children, and strengthen the connections between children and their families, schools and communities. We are sensitive to the social and economic conditions that threaten the wellbeing of children, and we seek ways to make the world a safer, more responsive place to their needs. Our board continues to explore ways to provide each child a life-changing experience, and to motivate and challenge them to explore worlds they never before imagined.
It is this breadth of accomplishment and activity that separates the Pythian Youth Foundation and the Pythian Youth Camp from other camping programs. Every year since 1946, The Pythian Youth Foundation of California has provided children the opportunity to take a break and to be embraced as children—both by nature and by individuals who recognize their uniqueness and their potential for making the world a better place for all of its citizens. This is why our campaign is called CHILDREN AT CAMP.
CHILDREN AT CAMP is about life-changing experiences and the people who inspire them. At Camp children enjoy three healthy meals a day for seven-days; they receive guidance by our professional staff and have the opportunity to participate in arts, crafts, swimming lessons, hiking and excursions in the forest.
President Trumans Legacy
When Harry S. Truman took Office in 1945 he accomplished several things: He revised Social Security, passed the Fair Housing Act, and help to establish the nations first and only land-grant camp. The Pythian Youth Foundation of CA is the keeper of President Trumans vision of a wilderness camp where disadvantaged children can retreat from often improvised cities and experience first-hand the awe and wonder of nature.
Camping has the power to change a childs perception of themselves and the world that they live in. CHILDREN AT CAMP make new friends; they develop communications skills and learn about shared responsibility; they gain confidence in themselves and in their ability to cope with fears and frustrations.

Other PYF Youth-oriented Programs

Safety Helmets - the PYF donated 2,000 safety helmets for kids, to local communities. This program, in partnership with the L. A. Sheriff and local Police Departments, allows officers to provide kids who are bicycling or skateboarding without protection, Snell approved safety helmets, instead of a citation. We aim to increase distribution of helmets by 20%, including in Fresno if possible.
Is This Book For Me? - Under this program designed to fight illiteracy, the PYF distributed over 25,000 children’s books to community clinics, hospitals, libraries and children’s organizations, recruiting commercial businesses and their employees to collect in especially designed Pythian bags, the books from their friends, family, colleagues and community organizations. Our goals are: to increase at minimum the volume of books collected and distributed by 10%, continuing to work with libraries, hospitals and other institutions; pursue a strategic relationship with Amazon, Google, Apple or other suitable provider(s), to include as part of an extended and improved program, reading tablets and electronic books distribution.

Fraternal Order Knights of Pythias & Pythian Sisters

The Pythian Youth Camp is the Jewel of the Order Knights Pythias. The camp holds the promise of a different life for at-risk children. A child leaves the often cruel streets of the inner-city, seeing for the first time night skies filled with stars; hearing the running waters as they flow through quiet canyons; feeling the freshness of mountain winds; hearing joy and laughter echoed from the trees and mountains while sitting around a campfire. Children at Camp is about life-changing experience and the people who inspire them. We invite you to join us in our campaign to send children to camp.

"We take children to camp!"

Pythians are pledged to the promotion of understanding among men of good will as the surest means of attaining Universal Peace, We believe that men and women meeting in the spirit of goodwill, in an honest effort of understanding, can live together on this earth in peace and harmony. The Order, established in 1864 in Washington DC by Justus H. Rathbone, was the first fraternal order chartered by an act of Congress. The Pythian Sisters was founded 24 years later, in 1888.Domains of the orders exist in most states and provinces, and subordinate lodges are located in most cities across the United States and Canada.

Famous Knights
William McKinley, U.S. President
Peter King, U.S. Congressman
Hubert Humphrey, U.S. Vice President
Warren G. Harding, U.S. President
Robert Byrd, U.S. Senator
William Jennings Bryant, U.S. Senator 
Hugo Black, Chief justice
Sun Ra, Jazz Musician
Nelson A. Rockefeller, U.S. Vice President
Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. President
James Roosevelt, U.S. Congressman
Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator
Lew Wallace, General, Author, Diplomat
Anthony Weiner, U.S. Congressman


More Background On The Pythian Youth Foundation

The Pythian Youth Foundation, established in 1946 under the broader umbrella of the Knights of Pythias, plays a crucial role in enriching the lives of children through its diverse programs and initiatives. This organization leverages the serene environment of the Sequoia National Forest, where its 19-acre Pythian Youth Camp is located, to offer transformational experiences for underprivileged children.

The foundation's flagship, the Pythian Youth Camp, provides a host of activities designed to nurture physical, social, and emotional growth. Activities at the camp include swimming, arts and crafts, environmental education, and team-building exercises. These are structured to promote inclusivity and diversity, fostering a nurturing environment where children from various backgrounds can thrive.

Throughout its history, the Knights of Pythias, the parent organization of the Pythian Youth Foundation, has been committed to principles of friendship, charity, and benevolence. This commitment extends through various local and national initiatives aimed at supporting children and communities in need. For instance, the Knights' involvement in local community services and charitable acts, such as monetary donations and volunteering, has significantly impacted the communities they serve, evidencing their long-standing mission to create a better world​ (Knights of Pythias of Texas)​.

Moreover, the Knights of Pythias supports educational programs, like the "Read and Ride" initiative, which encourages children to engage with reading by offering incentives like bicycles for active participation. Such programs are crafted to enhance literacy and comprehension, particularly beneficial in formative years​ (Knights of Pythias of Texas)​.

The Pythian Youth Foundation stands out not just for its historic camp but also for its ongoing contributions to child welfare and community support, maintaining a legacy that deeply influences and improves the lives of many.



The Pythian Youth Foundation, affiliated with the Knights of Pythias, has cultivated a longstanding reputation for its commitment to aiding underprivileged children through its programs, most notably the Pythian Youth Camp located in the Sequoia National Forest. This commitment is evident in the foundation's history of providing week-long excursions into nature, aiming to enhance the lives of children from low-income backgrounds by exposing them to the outdoors, which they might not experience otherwise.

Despite its commendable mission, the Pythian Youth Foundation currently lacks a rating from Charity Navigator, a prominent evaluator of non-profits. This absence of a rating is due to insufficient data to assess its impact, finance, and accountability measures comprehensively. Such details are critical for potential donors and stakeholders to gauge the effectiveness and transparency of a charity. The foundation is also noted for its delinquency in registering with state authorities in California, indicating potential issues in administrative compliance​​.

Financially, the Pythian Youth Foundation has faced challenges. For instance, in recent years, the organization reported operating at a deficit, with expenses surpassing its revenue, which was primarily derived from contributions. These financial trends highlight the ongoing struggle to balance mission-driven activities with sustainable funding​​.

Overall, while the foundation's goals and activities align with a noble cause, the lack of current financial and operational transparency could pose concerns for those looking to support or partner with the organization. Potential donors and volunteers might seek more detailed and current information on its programs, financial health, and regulatory compliance to fully understand and contribute to its initiatives effectively.


Press & Media Coverage

The Pythian Youth Foundation has garnered media attention primarily through its direct activities and associated channels rather than extensive press coverage. The foundation maintains a presence on platforms like YouTube, where they highlight their activities and the impact of their programs in the Sequoia National Forest​​. This is in line with their historical focus on direct community engagement and transformational experiences for children, which include outdoor educational programs and various camp activities as detailed on their main website​​.

Although there isn't a wide range of external media coverage detailing the foundation's everyday activities, the organization has been featured in directories and evaluation sites like Charity Navigator. However, it’s worth noting that Charity Navigator does not currently rate the Pythian Youth Foundation, citing a lack of sufficient data to evaluate its impact and financial practices​.

This suggests that while the foundation may have a meaningful impact at a local or community level, its broader media presence and visibility in national or online media are limited. For those interested in the deeper financial and operational aspects of the foundation, platforms like Charity Navigator would be a logical point of reference once more detailed evaluations are available.



The audience for the Pythian Youth Foundation primarily includes children from underprivileged backgrounds, particularly those between the ages of 9 and 11, as well as their families and the broader communities they live in. The foundation's programs, such as the Pythian Youth Camp, are designed to offer these children experiences in nature and outdoor education that they might not otherwise have access to, aiming to foster both personal and social development.

Furthermore, the foundation also engages with volunteers, donors, and potential sponsors who are interested in supporting their mission. This includes individuals and organizations passionate about youth development, outdoor education, and community service. The foundation's activities are meant to attract those who are motivated by charity and community improvement, evident from their involvement in various community service acts and donations​.

The Pythian Youth Foundation also targets educational and community leaders who can help in advocating and spreading their mission to reach more children and gather more support for their programs. This is indicated by their efforts to partner with local schools and community organizations to expand their impact and integrate their programs into wider community initiatives​.

Overall, the foundation seeks to connect with a diverse group of stakeholders who share a common interest in the welfare and development of children, particularly those from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds.


Known For

The Pythian Youth Foundation is particularly known for several key aspects:

  1. Pythian Youth Camp: Established in 1946, the Pythian Youth Camp is distinguished as the first and only land-grant camp in the United States, aimed specifically at enhancing the growth and development of disadvantaged children. Located in the Sequoia National Forest, the camp provides a unique wilderness experience for children, helping them to escape urban environments and connect with nature.

  2. Educational and Developmental Programs: The foundation offers a variety of programs that emphasize outdoor learning, environmental education, and physical health. These programs are designed to build confidence, foster social skills, and promote physical activity among children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds​.

  3. Community Involvement and Charitable Acts: The foundation engages in numerous community service activities and charitable donations. This includes efforts like the "Read and Ride" program, which motivates children to engage in reading by providing incentives such as bicycles for their participation. Such initiatives highlight the foundation's commitment to educational enrichment and community engagement​.

  4. Focus on Underprivileged Youth: The foundation's mission is strongly focused on serving children from low-income areas, providing them with opportunities that are often beyond their reach due to socioeconomic constraints. This commitment is reflected in their extensive programming that targets enhancing life experiences for these young individuals.

Overall, the Pythian Youth Foundation is known for its dedication to improving the lives of underprivileged children through education, community involvement, and the unique natural setting of its camp. These efforts are aimed at providing children with life-changing experiences that promote their overall wellbeing and development.



The Pythian Youth Foundation, founded in 1946, has a rich history tied to the broader mission of the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization established in 1864. The foundation was specifically created to address the needs of disadvantaged youth through the establishment of the Pythian Youth Camp. This camp, located in the Sequoia National Forest, is notable for being the first and only land-grant youth camp in the United States, a status achieved under the signature of President Harry S. Truman.

The camp and foundation were developed with the aim of providing children from low-income backgrounds with opportunities to experience the natural world, promoting both personal growth and environmental stewardship. This initiative reflects the Pythian values of charity, benevolence, and community support, which are central to the broader activities of the Knights of Pythias.

Throughout its history, the Pythian Youth Foundation has expanded its programs to include a variety of educational and recreational activities designed to build life skills, boost confidence, and promote physical and mental health among participants. These programs often emphasize outdoor learning and environmental education, reflecting the foundation's ongoing commitment to reconnect children with nature, particularly those from urban areas who might suffer from what has been termed "nature deprivation."

The foundation's efforts have evolved over the decades to include modern educational approaches and health initiatives, adapting to the changing needs of the communities they serve while maintaining a focus on their core mission of supporting at-risk youth. These historical and ongoing efforts highlight the foundation's commitment to fostering a safe, nurturing, and educational environment for the children it serves.


Cultural & Social Significance

The Pythian Youth Foundation, through its historical and ongoing activities, holds significant cultural and social importance, particularly in its dedication to serving disadvantaged youth and promoting environmental education. This significance is manifested in several key aspects:

  1. Promotion of Environmental and Outdoor Education: Located in the Sequoia National Forest, the Pythian Youth Camp offers unique opportunities for children to engage with nature. This aligns with broader societal movements toward environmental stewardship and education, particularly important as urbanization continues to limit such natural interactions for many children. The foundation’s focus on reconnecting youth with nature not only fosters individual growth and appreciation for the environment but also educates future generations on the importance of conservation and ecological responsibility​.

  2. Community Engagement and Development: The foundation's efforts extend beyond just the campers; they also involve the community through various outreach and educational programs. This helps in building a supportive network that reinforces the values of charity, communal support, and volunteerism. By integrating these values into its programs, the foundation contributes to a culture of benevolence and mutual aid, which is crucial for fostering resilient communities​.

  3. Social Equity and Accessibility: By specifically targeting underprivileged children, the Pythian Youth Foundation addresses social equity issues directly. The camp and associated programs provide opportunities that these children might not otherwise have due to economic disparities. This focus is significant in a broader social context, where access to such enriching experiences can be limited by socioeconomic status. The foundation's work helps to level the playing field, offering all children a chance to grow and learn in a supportive environment​.

  4. Cultural Diversity and Inclusion: The programs designed by the foundation are inclusive, promoting ethnic and cultural diversity among its participants. This is particularly important in a multicultural society, as it helps young people to learn about and from each other's backgrounds, fostering a culture of understanding and respect across different communities.

Overall, the cultural and social significance of the Pythian Youth Foundation is evident through its commitment to education, community support, social equity, and environmental stewardship. These efforts not only benefit the individual children who attend the camp but also have a ripple effect on their families, schools, and broader communities, contributing to a more informed, engaged, and compassionate society.



The Pythian Youth Foundation aims to achieve several significant goals through its programs and initiatives:

  1. Youth Development and Education: One of the primary goals of the Pythian Youth Foundation is to facilitate the development and education of youth, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This includes offering programs that expand outdoor learning and wilderness opportunities, which are designed to enhance the personal growth, confidence, and educational outcomes for these children

  2. Environmental Awareness: The foundation seeks to foster a deep appreciation and understanding of the environment among youth. This is achieved through various activities at the Pythian Youth Camp such as hiking, nature walks, and environmental education sessions often led by U.S. Forest Services personnel. These activities aim not only to educate children about the natural world but also to instill a lifelong respect and stewardship for the environment​.

  3. Health and Wellness: Promoting physical health and wellness is another key objective of the foundation. The camp encourages an active lifestyle and healthier eating habits among children. This is particularly important given the rising concerns around childhood obesity and other health-related issues in modern societies. The programs are structured to encourage physical activities and impart knowledge about nutritious dietary choices​.

  4. Community Engagement and Volunteerism: The foundation also aims to engage the broader community through volunteerism and partnerships. This includes encouraging local involvement in the camp's operations and its various outreach initiatives, fostering a spirit of community service and mutual aid among participants and local stakeholders.

  5. Cultural Diversity and Inclusion: Embracing and promoting cultural diversity within its programs is a crucial goal. The foundation's initiatives are designed to be inclusive, providing a platform where children from diverse backgrounds can learn about different cultures, thereby fostering an environment of inclusivity and respect.

These goals collectively drive the foundation’s activities, reflecting its commitment to providing enriching experiences that contribute positively to the personal development of children and the welfare of the broader community.