Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

All FAQs are subject to change. If you cannot find the answer to your question below, please contact us and we’ll do our best to promptly reply with the answer.

GENERAL FAQs

Do I have to be a Cub Scout or Boy Scout member to use the facilities at Oso Lake?

No. Subject to available space, Oso Lake is open to any youth group with advanced reservations. We frequently host Girl Scouts, YMCA Adventure Guides, church groups, and other families not associated with Boy Scouts of America.

Can I just stop by and use the facilities?

No. Due to the importance of visitor safety and proper planning to make sure you have a great stay, all visitors to Oso Lake must be pre-registered campers. Day use and overnight visitors may make reservations prior to your arrival by contacting the Orange County Council of Boy Scouts of America camping coordinator. The phone number is (714) 546-8558 x 136.

Are there biting bugs at Oso Lake?

Yes. The camp is situated in a large natural landscape that is home to wild creatures of all types. It is unusual to see or be bitten by mosquitoes at Oso Lake for most of the year, although the hottest weeks of Summer can be itchy If you arrive unprepared. Ticks are always present in the natural plants that grow here, so it’s recommended you stay out of the brush, stay on the trails, and check yourself for ticks when you return home. Mosquitoes and Ticks are repelled by insect sprays and creams containing at least 20% DEET. It is recommended that you also bring medication or emergency treatments for known allergies you might require in the event of an interaction with a biting or stinging insect.

Are there any poisonous plants at Oso Lake?

Yes. Poison oak is very commonly encountered when you leave established trails, as is poison hemlock. Various mushrooms, stinging nettle, and prickly thistles are also found around camp from time to time, so it is recommended that all campers stay on established trails to avoid these noxious and potentially painful plants. NEVER EAT ANY PLANT FOUND AT OSO LAKE.

Can I bring my well trained and leashed dog(s)?

No. With the exception of trained assistance animals, no pets of any kind are allowed at Oso Lake. Please leave your dog, horse, aardvark, cat, tortoise, hedgehog, rat, snake, pocket fish, or other family pet at home. Seriously, no pets at Oso Lake please. You will be asked to leave if you bring them.

Can I bring alcohol or tobacco into camp?

Alcohol and intoxicating substances are never permitted in camp, period. It is a violation of BSA policy to consume alcohol or intoxicating substances in camp, and campers who are caught with alcohol or any such substance in their possession will be escorted from the property with no warnings or refunds provided. For safety and health reasons, we would prefer you not smoke in camp at all. If you must smoke, smoking is permitted in the designated smoking area ONLY. Please contact the Ranger to determine where the smoking area is. Please do not smoke in the presence of youth, and please LEAVE NO TRACE of your smoking in camp.

How far away are emergency services?

Oso Lake is a suburban camping facility. While emergencies are rare, the Rancho Santa Margarita fire station #45 and Mission Viejo fire station #31 are each less than 4 miles from camp. Mission Hospital is the closest major emergency medical facility. The Orange County Sheriff patrols our area regularly and will respond to emergencies in camp if needed. Cell phone coverage is excellent and emergency response time is very fast if required.

CAMPING FAQs

How many campers can be at Oso Lake at a time?

Oso Lake is set up to host up to 300 campers at a time. Camping areas are dividing into 6 distinct group campsites, each capable of holding up to 50 campers each.

Are camp fires allowed at Oso Lake?

Yes, in established fire rings only. All fires must be attended at all times and are NEVER to be left unattended. During extreme weather events (Red Flag Days) such as extreme drought, and very dry Santa Ana winds, campfires will not be allowed and you will be notified. Each group campsite is complete with a heavy duty fire pit and removable cooking grate. The amphitheater also features a large in-ground fire ring for group fires. You may bring your own or purchase firewood at the Oso Lake Trading Post. Fires are to be put out cold prior to leaving your camp site unattended.

Can I purchase food and personal items at camp?

Yes. The Oso Lake Trading Post offers a selection of snack and shelf stable food staples in the event you forget something. Some personal care items are also available. Trading Post hours are variable, so check with the Ranger for the latest information. A Von’s super market and several fast food restaurants are located within a short walk from the camp entrance as well.

Does Oso Lake have showers and flush toilets?

No, not yet. Many well maintained and frequently emptied Porta Potties are available for camper use. The camp does have potable water for sponge baths and other cleaning needs in each camp site.

Can I camp with just my family?

Yes. Open camping weekends are open to all families of Orange County and the surrounding areas. Just pre-register through the Orange County Council and pay your fees in advance.

Can I camp in my travel trailer or motor home?

Yes. Motor homes up to 24 feet and small towable trailers no longer than 24 feet may be brought to Oso Lake. Space is extremely limited and no hook ups are available. Space is made available on a first come, first served basis. Please notify the camping coordinator when you register.

BOATING FAQs

How old do you need to be to rent a canoe?

Canoes are available to Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and other youth under the following circumstances:

NO SOLO CANOEING IS ALLOWED AT OSO LAKE

ADULTS (21+) may paddle canoes with another adult, or with their own child or children.

BOY SCOUTS and youth age 12-17 who have 1) passed the BSA swim test and 2) who have earned the BSA Canoeing merit badge may use a canoe with another equally qualified youth, or with their own adult (21+) parent.

CUB SCOUTS and youth aged 11 and under may only ride in a canoe with their own adult (21+) parent.

In all cases, vessel weight limits must be followed. All groups wishing to use canoes or rowboats must supply adequate numbers of “Water Watchers” who are trained through BSA Safety Afloat, and Safe Swim Defense.

How old do you need to be to rent a rowboat?

Rowboats are available to Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and other youth under the following circumstances:

NO SOLO BOATING IS ALLOWED AT OSO LAKE

ADULTS (21+) may use rowboats with another adult, or with their own child or children.

BOY SCOUTS and youth aged 12-17 who have passed the BSA swim test may use a rowboat with another equally qualified youth, or with their own adult (21+) parent.

CUB SCOUTS and youth aged 11 and under may only ride in a rowboat with their own adult (21+) parent.

In all cases, vessel weight limits must be followed. All groups wishing to use canoes or rowboats must supply adequate numbers of “Water Watchers” who are trained through BSA Safety Afloat, and Safe Swim Defense.

Is there a time limit for canoe or rowboat rentals?

If the event you’re attending has a scheduled rotation, then yes, we follow the planned start and end times. On open camping weekends we do not adhere to time limits. Canoes and rowboats are available if requested in advance, any time the Aquatics department is open and adequate staff and “Water Watchers” are available. Aquatics is typically open from 9:00 AM-4:00 PM and closes for lunch from Noon to 1:30 on Saturdays. Operating hours will be announced on the day of your stay, and they may vary. Check with the Ranger upon arrival for the Aquatics schedule.

Can I fish from the rental canoes or rowboats?

No fishing is allowed from canoes, but you may fish from the rowboats during open camping rental periods.

Can I bring my own kayak, canoe, boat or float tube?

At the sole discretion of the Aquatics Director, privately owned human powered watercraft MAY be permitted. All privately owned human powered watercraft must be kept in the main automobile parking area, and must be inspected by Aquatics Director prior to being brought into Aquatics area. NO MOTORIZED or TRAILER vessels of any size or kind will be permitted. It is best to use the Contact Us page to make your inquiry BEFORE bringing your boat to Oso Lake.

FISHING FAQs

Do I need a license to fish at Oso Lake?

No. Registered campers may fish at Oso Lake without a California fishing license during their stay.

I am a Scout. Can I stop by and fish any time?

No. Only registered campers may fish at Oso Lake during their event, or camping stay. Unauthorized visitors caught fishing (yes, even Scouters) will be considered trespassers and may be ticketed by the OC Sheriff and escorted from the property for their own safety, and the safety of the kids in camp.

Can I borrow or rent fishing gear?

Yes. If you do not have your own fishing gear to use, you may rent a rod and reel set up for a very small fee. Rod rental includes everything you need to catch a fish. Rentals are available on Saturdays only. Additional fees will be charged for lost or damaged equipment.

What kind of fish live in Oso Lake?

Oso Lake is home to largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, and seasonally stocked Tilapia are present from early summer through early winter (June-December).

Can I eat the fish I catch at Oso Lake?

No. In order to ensure great fishing for all, Oso Lake is a 100% CPR (Catch, Photo & Release) angling facility and all fish must be released alive immediately in the location where they were caught.

What kinds of lures and baits are allowed at Oso Lake?

Only artificial lures, flies, and baits are permitted. No living or dead fish, insects, human foods or animal foods are allowed as fishing bait.

Is the fishing kid friendly at Oso Lake?

Yes, very. We specialize in giving kids a fun and educational fishing experience. Fish catching at Oso Lake seasonally ranges from very easy (everyone catches something) to very challenging (one or two kids catch something). Fish catching depends on the environmental conditions, time of year, fish life cycles, the skills of the angler, and how many anglers are fishing. It’s not uncommon for kids to catch their very first fish at Oso Lake.

RANGE FAQs

What kinds of ranges are at Oso Lake?

Oso Lake has one of the largest permanent outdoor archery ranges in Orange County (24 targets), BB rifle range, slingshot range, and tomahawk range. All ranges are open to registered campers with advance reservations, and on special event days where ranges are mentioned in the program schedule. All youth who wish to participate in BB Gun shooting must have the completed Activity Release Form, signed by their parent or guardian, with them on the range.

Is there an age requirement for ranges?

It depends on the range. Due to BSA policies, the tomahawk range is not available for Cub Scouts. Very young children may not be able to operate the equipment safely. Our certified range masters will make every effort to provide kids of all ages a great range experience. We can serve very small sized youth, left and right handed youth, and youth with no experience at all, as well as experienced people of all ages, so there is a good chance that we can offer something for everyone.

I am a Scout. Can I stop by and shoot any time?

No. Only registered campers may use the ranges (archery, BB gun, slingshot, and tomahawk) at Oso Lake during their event, or camping stay. Unauthorized visitors are considered trespassers and will be ticketed by the OC Sheriff and escorted from the property for their own safety, and the safety of the kids in camp.

Can I borrow or rent archery and BB rifle gear?

Yes. When the ranges are open, all equipment and ammunition are provided. In fact you may not bring your own archery equipment or BB rifle to camp without express permission of the Shooting Sports Director. Any shooting sports equipment coming onto camp must be checked in upon entry into camp and will be kept safely locked up in a secure facility until the ranges are open for shooting sports.

Does Oso Lake have .22 rifle or shotgun facilities?

No. Due to our location, .22 rifles and shotguns are not permitted at Oso Lake.

I want to get better at shooting. Does Oso Lake offer open shooting times or classes?

At this time, we do not. As we are 100% volunteer run, we do not have the staff to offer open shooting or class time. You can visit the nearby Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center for shooting classes and facility rentals. Visit the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center website at www.outdooreducationcenter.org for more information.