The Southern Cross



Whispering Winds Partners with Catholic Community Foundation

SAN DIEGO — One is a 40-year-old Catholic camp, nestled in the Cuyamaca Mountains; the other is a three-year-old philanthropic organization that prides itself on being a one-stop shop for Catholic charitable giving.

Whispering Winds Catholic Camp and Conference Center and the Catholic Community Foundation of San Diego have joined forces.

Whispering Winds has created two new funds with the foundation: the Whispering Winds Tisi Memorial Fund, an endowment fund to support the mission of Whispering Winds (the fund is named in honor of the camp’s late co-founder, Jerry Tisi), and the Whispering Winds Camper Assistance Fund, which provides tuition assistance to those for whom the Catholic camping experience might otherwise be financially out of reach.

Gary Rectenwald, executive director of the Catholic Community Foundation, said the new funds represent the beginning of a strategic partnership between Whispering Winds and the foundation, one that will benefit donors to both organizations.

“It is our hope that our Catholic communities in San Diego and Imperial Valley will help support the mission and the many wonderful programs of Whispering Winds, which provides a unique setting for Catholics to meet and have some fun while enhancing their Catholic faith,” he said. “Through this partnership, it is also our hope that current donors to Whispering Winds will prayerfully consider creating their own donor-advised fund with the foundation to support future contributions to one or more Catholic ministries.”

Through prudent investment of Whispering Winds’ funds, Rectenwald said, the foundation anticipates that they will grow at or above market rates. He also promises that they will be invested in accordance with Catholic values.

Founded in 1978, Whispering Winds is located on 161 secluded acres in the mountains surrounding Julian, where campers can enjoy a wide variety of activities, including zip lining, horseback riding, rock climbing, swimming and archery. The camp serves more than 10,000 guests a year, including attendees of  Catholic parish and school retreats.

Whispering Winds offers traditional, military and special-needs family camps. It also runs a youth camp, Senior Moment retreat, and diocesan confirmation retreat.

It has been able to offer grant funding to low-income parishes to help with their confirmation candidates’ retreat fees. In addition, the camp helps many nonprofits, such as the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a camp for kids who have lost a family member to military service, and Seany’s Camp, which supports families affected by cancer. Camp Connect, a program allowing children in the foster care system to be reunited with their siblings at camp, is yet another grant recipient.

What distinguishes Whispering Winds from other summer camps is the way that faith is incorporated into its programming. During each of the camp’s scheduled offerings, there are a number of Masses and opportunities for prayer and Scripture- reading.

The Catholic Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is independent from the Diocese of San Diego, was established in December 2015 to work with donors to create funds supporting the diocese’s 98 Catholic parishes, its many Catholic schools, and a wide array of Catholic organizations and causes. These include the support of vocations, assistance to retired and disabled religious, social ministries involved with Catholic formation, education and enrichment, and the social and humanitarian needs of the wider San Diego community.    

A key component of the foundation’s purpose is to inform, educate and expose local Catholics to the admirable work of the many Catholic ministries, nonprofits and charities in San Diego.

Those interested in making a gift to the new Whispering Winds funds at the Catholic Community Foundation may contact Gary Rectenwald at or (858) 490-8365 or Terry Henberger at or (619) 573-0740.

For more information, visit the Catholic Community Foundation’s website at and Whispering Winds’ website at

The Southern Cross

The Southern Cross - Facebook Page The Southern Cross - Twitter Page The Southern Cross - RSS Feed