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Our Story

We begin at the end: Parents and their children are headed down the long winding road that leads away from Kings Canyon National Park, a national treasure that protects some of the last groves of Giant Sequoia Trees in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. The mood is relaxed, enlightened, and maybe even a little sad - because it is hard to say goodbye to new friends and so much natural beauty. Each person in the car has had the opportunity to discover and develop their passions, to make friends from distant lands, and to connect with nature in a way that invites inspiration. And whether they know it or not, a special seed has been planted within them - a desire to learn more about the world around them, and the confidence to develop their new-found strengths.


First developed in the late 1950’s as a residential camp for boys in Montecito, California, Dr. Homer “Chief” Barnes and his daughter, Camp Director - Dr. Virgina “Pony” Barnes, later moved their camp to a new  home nestled between Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. For over 22 years, young girls ages 8-17 headed to the mountains to attend 4 and 8 week sessions at Montecito Sequoia Girls Camp. Beginning in the mid 1980’s  and continuing until 2006, entire families attended Montecito Sequoia Family Vacation Camp. Dr. “Pony” Barnes’ programs offered a well developed variety of enriching  experiences. She weaved Educational Theory through all daily activities. From the Arts, to outdoor adventure, to leadership programs, the entire camp environment was aligned with her instructional methods.”

The Camp Counselors were highly trained specialists - accomplished coaches, athletes, artists, and teachers - and they were assisted by teenaged participants of the selective KILT program (Kampers In Leadership Training).


All were in some way honing their leadership potential through the lens of experiential learning, playful collaboration, and inspiring one another to discover, create and grow. 


Over the course of so many years, hundreds of former participants have grown into talented, creative, and gifted professionals. We are teachers, writers, painters, doctors, lawyers, artists, community leaders, and more.  When we reconnect at our bi-annual reunions, it is always an affirmation of the positive and often profound impact that our Montecito Sequoia experiences have had in our lives. Those who attend these reunions thank Dr. Barnes for their time at camp. Her methods always served with a generous helping of fun. Staff and guests alike learned through constant playful interactions which exposed them to new experiences, cultivated leadership, and developed a deep-rooted community of positive, authentic people. 


In 2016,  as Pony approached her 93rd birthday, she wished to continue inspiring the love of learning for generations to come by creating new and creative methods for implementing  her educational philosophies. Working closely with her protégés and dear friends Pony dedicated her financial and energetic resources to the formation of the Pony Barnes Foundation. Our mission is to provide unique enriching experiences that promote and inspire leadership potential, creativity, and growth.









We welcome you to our foundation, and

we are “mighty glad you’re here!”