Camp Joan Mier
You Never Lose the Memories
Camp Paivika may have been built first, but the sun worshipers who loved Camp Joan Mier
would never have called their camp "second." It's not hard to see why, just looking
at the magnificent campsite on a hill, with its 180-degree view of the Pacific.
The camping program was a lot like Paivika's, with age groups ranging from 7 years to
older adults. A camp at sea level was considered beneficial for some campers, but
there were many others who simply preferred the beach to the mountains. The staff
tended to be college-age, like Camp Paivika, with counselors and program staff who came
from around California, across the United States, and throughout the world.
For 46 years, 340 campers spent part of their summers at the beach, enjoying traditional camp
activities such as horseback riding, hiking the canyon trail, singing, making clay ash trays,
staging skits and telling ghost stories on camp outs. Howling coyotes serenaded
campers at night, and occasionally a whale could be spotted on the horizon. Most of
all, Camp Joan Mier was about making lifelong memories and close friends.
Opened in 1960, Camp Joan Mier was located on 7.9 acres of land just above Pacific Coast
Highway, 18 miles northwest of Malibu. The original campsite was purchased by the
Joan and Harry Mier Foundation in 1958 and donated to AbilityFirst, then known as the Crippled
Children's Society of Southern California. Building Camp Joan Mier was a community
effort, with donations received from Southern California charitable foundations, civic groups
Camp Joan Mier was named for S. Joan Mier, a lawyer, philanthropist and author who became
the Crippled Children's Society's first woman president in 1977. Before her death in
1989, Mrs. Mier made visits to the camp every summer on her birthday. This was no
ordinary visit; Mrs. Mier would rent a bus and bring an entourage of family and friends.
The campers and staff would throw Mrs. Mier the mother of all birthday parties, complete with
a cake provided by the kitchen staff, as well as gifts and hand-made birthday cards from
the campers. Joan Mier never forgot to speak with each individual camper, and had a
gift for each one of them. She traveled quite often, and many of her gifts were
brought back from the exotic places she had visited.
In 2005, friends of Camp Joan Mier were stunned to learn that their camp would close.
Developers wanted the land, and AbilityFirst decided that one of the offers was just too
good to turn down. The sale of Camp Joan Mier has brought badly needed financial
resources to AbilityFirst, and enables new and improved programs elsewhere.
Hopefully, many of Camp Joan Mier's campers and staff will make Camp Paivika their
new tradition in the years to come. Like the rest of us, we think you'll love it.