50 Years of Marine Landing

“There is no better place to spend the summer than at Marine Landing, on the beach, overlooking the water.”

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Editor’s note: Don’t wait! Register for GSGLA summer camp before we run out of space. 

For 50 years, Marine Landing has held a special place in the hearts of generations of Girl Scouts, for many reasons. As Girl Scouts go from one summer camp activity to another, they’re learning what interests them most, trying new things, and taking risks in a safe, all-girl environment—which is why summer camp is more than just a beloved Girl Scout tradition, it’s an important one.

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Marine Landing in 1967. Courtesy: Jo Murray

Marine Landing, our waterfront property on Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, has served as the setting for thousands of girls’ summer memories and experiences. After the formation of the Greater Long Beach Girl Scout Council in the early 1960s, construction began on Marine Landing. The Mariner Scout program thrived in Long Beach in the early days, but suitable facilities were hard to find for Girl Scouts. The City of Long Beach leased a strip of land to the new council along the marina, just north of the 2nd Street Bridge. Construction began in 1966, and finally in 1967, Marine Landing was dedicated. The rest, as they say, is history.

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Courtesy: Jo Murray

Betty “Dani” Homan was the first camp director. She remembers that first summer well, with the girls being organized into groups called patrols:

“The day camp was wildly successful. After each day, the patrol would meet and decide what they wanted to eat for lunch the next day. They’d turn in their menu and we had volunteer shoppers (parents of Girl Scouts or other volunteers)… come and get the food orders and go over to the local Ralph’s across the bay, do the shopping, and bring it back. The girls would cook their lunch, then the patrols would plan the next day’s lunch and repeat this every day… So it wasn’t all peanut butter and jelly, they actually cooked lunches. At that time, we had designated fire rings, so each patrol had its own little place to fix lunch. This made it a camping program as well as waterfront.”

Karen “Rocky” Ramsey, who served as camp director at Marine Landing in the ’70s, recalls other ways the girls stayed active:

“The girls would do rowing, canoeing, basic sailing, and intermediate sailing… We had to clean the equipment every day—each boat had to be thoroughly cleaned because of the salt water. The sense of responsibility, the sense of accomplishment as you learned each of the skills—those things are invaluable.”

Four generations of Marine Landing camp directors: Sporty Spice, Peaches, Rocky, and Dani.

Today, girls not only learn canoeing and sailing at Marine Landing, but also kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Current GSGLA Program Specialist and former Marine Landing Camp Director Lisa “Sporty Spice” Axelrod explains how things have changed:

“When all the councils in LA County merged in 2008, I had no idea what was going to be in store for me. I had never run a day camp. It ended up becoming one of the greatest things I’ve done in my 13.5 years working for Girl Scouts. I am so proud of what [Marine Landing] has become and the experiences that girls have there: They now have stand-up paddleboards, permanent shade coverings, an office, new kayaks, and so much more. The program has evolved over the years, but one thing remains the same: There is no better place to spend the summer than at Marine Landing, on the beach, overlooking the water. It truly became my happy place thanks to the amazing staff and girls who have come and gone over the years. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this amazing camp.”

Girls learn how to do stand-up paddleboarding.

Recent Marine Landing counselor Barbara “Summer” Kennedywho also camped there— says the waterfront property was a huge part of her childhood: 

“Memories from when I was a camper include making lanyards and ending the summer with about 50 of them attached to my camp bag, being able to get the popsicles for the counselors, finding ways to avoid taking down boats and then getting upset when the girls did it when I was a counselor, the trips to the other beaches… As a counselor, I remember the dance parties after lunch, showing the girls the hidden gargoyle, getting in the water to do swim tests at 9 a.m., and the late afternoons when just a few girls were left and everything was quiet and I could look out over the water and think about what an awesome summer job I had.”

Girls make arts and crafts at Marine Landing.

Decades later, Ms. Homan reflects on her 16-year tenure as a Girl Scout program director, saying she treasures her time at Marine Landing the most:

It never felt like a job, it was just the best thing I ever did… I can’t believe it’s been 50 years, that’s the most remarkable thing to me. I’m very happy they’ve kept it up over these years and even advanced the program far beyond [what] I imagined back in the beginning.”

To everyone who has canoed, swam, kayaked, sailed, rowed, played, cooked, sang, and danced at Marine Landing: Thank you for the memories! We’re so appreciative of your support, and look forward to providing the girls of Greater LA with exciting activities and unique opportunities for years to come.

We want to know…

  • Did you ever camp or work at Marine Landing? Leave a comment and share your memories.
  • Did your girl attend Marine Landing or our other camps this summer? See if you can spot her in our Facebook album.
  • Do you want to register your girl for Marine Landing or our other camps? Visit our website and subscribe to our summer camp news for more information.
  • Are you interested in ensuring future generations of girls can enjoy GSGLA summer camp? Make a gift and help more girls participate in this beloved Girl Scouting tradition.

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