Back in 1890, before Arroyo Grande was established as a city (Arroyo Grande became an official city in 1911), the land that Camp Arroyo Grande sits on was owned by John Francis Beckett. Beckett was a real estate developer who had a big part in building many Central Coast towns in the late 19th century. He was a teacher and was active in local politics. Beckett was also a Methodist, and he donated his land that would later become the camp, according to his deed, “in trust for the use and benefit of the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church as a religious, educational, and pleasure resort.”

The church made the property into a local campground, and built the iconic Tabernacle on the property. The Tabernacle, constructed in 1897, is a large, cone-roofed, twelve-sided building. According to lore, the 12-sided structure is in honor of Jesus’s 12 disciples.

John Francis Beckett
John Francis Beckett
Historic Camp Arroyo Grande

The Tabernacle was home to church revivals, art shows, even women’s suffrage and alcohol prohibition rallies. The venue became  a significant economic source of income and cultural impact for South County hosting up to 2000 people attending revivals and events.

Camp Arroyo Grande eventually became the property of the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church, based out of Pasadena. The facility stood in the community for over 100 years as a host to many year-round church and youth activities.

The 5 Cities Community Service Foundation

The 5 Cities Community Service Foundation is made up of five board members. Founded in 1996, the Foundation was set up to focus on and support youth activities in the southern San Luis Obispo County communities. With time, the Foundation started to work with local community leaders to find a way to build a recreation center in the 5 Cities area of SLO County. The Foundation was able to raise $1.6 million specifically for the proposed recreation center concept. That financial support lead the Foundation to a focused effort to get a long term lease for the 5 acre parcel on the corner of West Branch and Old Ranch Road, in Arroyo Grande, CA. The lease was officially granted and signed by the A. G. City Council in 2006.

In 2008 the Foundation started a new effort to find a building concept that would be less expensive than originally envisioned and to find a way to make that facility self supporting. The final outcome was a simple four basketball court facility and a “campus like” concept that would incorporate the existing Women’s Center into the plans for our proposed recreation center. In April of 2010, the Arroyo Grande City Council approved a Community Development Agreement that provides the Foundation with certain assurances with respect to development of the project.

In 2017, the Foundation was approached by community members that were concerned about the sale of the Methodist Campsite – “Camp Arroyo Grande”. The Foundation was asked to consider purchasing the campsite. An offer was made in April 2017 and we went into escrow in July 2017.

The 5 Cities Community Service Foundation is a certified 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Tax ID # 77-0437523

Board Members

  J JohnsonPresident
  Vard IkedaVice President
  Mike MinerTreasurer
  Dave Ekbom – Secretary
  Pat CusackDirector


To provide assistance to individuals and organizations with an emphasis on education, community service, and character development. Through Camp Arroyo Grande we want to foster enjoyment and appreciation of the natural world among people of all ages through creative activities in a camp setting.

Donate to the 5 Cities Community Service Foundation

General Fund

Used for repairs and maintenance as well as upgrading the Camp Arroyo Grande grounds and facilities.

Endowment Fund

A donation to the Endowment Fund will ensure the long term sustaining future of Camp Arroyo Grande.