Children’s Nature Retreat officially open
By Jo Moreland
Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce
For The Alpine Sun
Agnes Barrelet’s dream has come true at her new Children’s Nature Retreat in Alpine!
Surrounded by well wishers at the retreat’s VIP grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 4, Barrelet smiled as she recalled how she got the idea for the big ranch-style haven for more than 80 domesticated livestock from around the world.
“I saw the movie ‘We Bought a Zoo,’” the retreat’s owner said. “It gave me the idea that it was possible to do that in the United States.”
The Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce, its board members, Ambassadors and staff helped with the official ribbon cutting under clear blue skies at 5178 Japatul Spur.
Chamber Chairman Joseph Perricone of The Canvas Makers; board directors Jan Morse and Frank Sturniolo, and Chamber President/CEO Mary Rynearson were there.
“It’s beautiful here,” Morse said later. “The animals look really happy to be here.”
Ambassador Carol Morrison of the Alpine Historical Society and Superintendent Richard Newman of the Alpine Union School District participated.
Area royalty, the retreat’s staff, visiting children, other guests and several well-mannered goats also enjoyed the grand opening ceremony.
Barrelet received certificates of recognition from State Assemblyman Randy Voepel and the Chamber.
Retreat neighbors Vanessa Sanders and Mark McFarland of Carveacre Road were impressed with the haven’s big open corrals, green pastures and abundant landscaping in the serene setting.
“It’s fantastic,” Sanders said. “It’s so well done.”
Small platforms dot the grounds, allowing small children to look bigger animals in the eye.
“It’s a great place to get close to animals, because you don’t usually get that opportunity,” said Marion Weist of Viejas as her young son explored everything.
There are big deck chairs for relaxing, educational signs, meandering paths and a big picnic area.
President Pene Manale of the Kiwanis Club of Alpine was there with the Kiwanis Cook Shack crew to provide lunch. Another Chamber member, John MacWilliams known as “Mac the Inspector,” was helping.
“The Children’s Nature Retreat is a nonprofit organization and we support them,” Manale said. “They (retreat) think they can partner on things with us.”
Open seven days a week by appointment only, the Children’s Nature Retreat hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in winter and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in summer.
To learn more about The Children’s Nature Retreat, call (619) 320-4942 or visit the website at www.childrensnatureretreat.com.