Cabrillo History & Facts

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Established in 1946, the Cabrillo Beach Youth Center (CBYC) is a one-of-a-kind beach-front youth facility located on Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro. It provides unique beach camping and water activities to over 20,000 youth a year.


The Cabrillo Beach Youth Center was constructed and operated by the Los Angeles Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America (LAAC), and is now operated by its successor, Greater Los Angeles Area Council (GLAAC), at no cost to the City or Port of Los Angeles. In 1946, LAAC began to provide training and activities to youth of the community at the Cabrillo Beach site, operating out of tents and military WWII Quonset huts and trailers, under a lease with Fort MacArthur. In 1982, at the initiative of LAAC leadership, Los Angeles  Mayor  Tom Bradley,  City and Port of Los Angeles officials, civic and business leaders, and others, LAAC entered into a 30- year lease of the Cabrillo Beach site from the City, for the "purposes" of "construction, operation, maintenance and management of a nonexclusive youth camp facility" by LAAC. LAAC raised over

$3.6 million to construct the Youth Center, dedicated in 1987, with lead contributions by Steven Spielberg and the Amateur Athletic Foundation, and additional major contributions by Ahmanson Foundation, Lon V. Smith Foundation, Times Mirror, Toyota Motor Corporation, Union Pacific Foundation, Weingart Foundation, and others. Under LAAC's lease, "all improvements, works and structures made or erected by [LAAC] shall be and remain the property of [LAAC]." CBYC is operated and managed by GLAAC through a full-time, resident director, assisted by a professional staff and volunteers.


Completed in 1987, the Cabrillo Youth Center facilities encompass 12.3 acres, with an Olympic-size swimming pool, campgrounds, boat house, and a 25,000-square-foot Spielberg Center, which houses a dining room, meeting rooms, craft center, amphitheater, Scout Shop, and staff quarters. The food service center/multi-purpose room seats 140 for dining and 200 for assemblies. The Center is equipped with ramps and outdoor walkways designed to meet the special needs of physically challenged youth and adults.


During the 2016-2017 program year (July 2016 -  June  2017),  CBYC served over 20,000 diverse youth -- more than 60% of whom were not Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts - through a variety of campouts, training and activities, and over 40 schools, churches, youth and community organizations, and government agencies, in addition to the Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts. Participating groups included Girl Scouts, YMCA, Champions of Youth, Mountain and Sea Adventure Camp, AmeriCorps, Los Angeles County Junior Lifeguards, American Red Cross, and 4-H. Government agencies served included the Port of Los Angeles Police, Los Angeles City  Police, Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, Los Angeles City and County Fire Departments, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Navy Seals, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and numerous City and County lifeguard units. Youth from many Southern California communities utilized CBYC's facilities during the year.

Click here for a list of organizations and parters of CBYC.


"Day Users" - In 2016-2017, more than 16,000 youth and adults used CBYC for a day, evening or more event (not including City, County, State and Federal dive team and lifeguard trainings, and Boy Scout and Girl Scout merit badge workshops). Day-use activities and events included the Cabrillo Beach Boosters' Annual July 4th Celebration, Boy Scout day camps, Cub Scout  day camps, Girl Scout day camps, YMCA camps, Mountain and Sea Adventure Camp, Mary Star High School swim team practice, Champions of Youth weekly self-defense classes, Airman & Family Readiness day camp for special needs children, L.A. County Fire Department weekly classes, and Girl Scout, Boy Scout and Cub Scout meetings. CBYC specially-scheduled eight weeks of swimming lessons for San Pedro residents, utilizing CBYC's certified instructors.

"Overnight Campers" - In 2016-2017, CBYC registered over 2,300 overnight campers. These campers typically participated in boating and swimming activities, in addition to traditional camping. Many overnighters were first-time campers or groups who used the facility for special conferences. Overnight campers were primarily church groups, schools, Boy Scout troops, Cub Scout family campers, Girl Scouts, and the American Red Cross (which conducts an annual youth leadership team-building conference). Some youth on their way to Catalina Summer Camps used CBYC as a "stop-over."

"Weekend Campers" - In 2016-2017, CBYC offered weekend camping  sessions  (arrival  on  Friday evenings and departure Sunday afternoons) to non-profit youth organizations, with over 1,900 participants camping over 15 weekends. Weekend programs provided a variety of activities, including boating, swimming, dragon boating and water safety classes, with arts and crafts as options. All campers are required to take a swim test and participate in a waterfront orientation on basic boating skills. One hundred twenty Cub Scouts and parents/leaders enjoyed Cub Resident Camps with three nights/four days of adventure at CBYC.

CBYC distributes San Pedro Chamber of Commerce community event listings, Cabrillo Beach waterfront brochures, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium brochures, and other Port-related materials to visitors to encourage use of other Port-area attractions. Many users combine stays at CBYC with visits to other Port attractions, such as two favorites, the U.S.S. Iowa and Cabrillo  Marine Aquarium.


The Cabrillo Beach Youth Center  is located in a unique  part of Los Angeles County, with two adjacent venerable communities - San Pedro and Wilmington - served by CBYC's youth development programs. Community  outreach is a significant component of Cabrillo Beach Youth Center's mission. For example:

  • For the seventh year, CBYC supported local community-based Champions of Youth Outreach, by providing its facilities weekly to Champions of Youth students. Champions of Youth combines safety awareness education with self-defense instruction.
  • For the twelfth year, CBYC hosted the Cabrillo Beach Boosters' Annual Fourth of July Celebration/fundraiser.
  • CBYC again provided AmeriCorps' college-age volunteers a place to lodge during their six weeks of summer service at the nearby George Canyon Nature Center. The AmeriCorps mission statement is "to improve lives, strengthen communities and foster care engagement through service and volunteering."
  • CBYC provided lifeguard training to youth from the Palos Verdes 4-H Club.
  • CBYC offered regular access to its pool to the Los Angeles County and City Junior Lifeguards for lap swimming and exam preparation.
  • CBYC provided use of its pool to City and County lifeguards for training. In turn, the lifeguards shared with CBYC staff and campers insights into physical conditioning and lifeguard careers
  • The Los Angeles Harbor Dragon Boat Teams - two adult teams, a middle school team and an elementary school team - met on Sunday mornings for practice, in preparation  for dragon boat competitions. In exchange, volunteers from the Dragon Boat Teams provided boating instruction to CBYC staff members and campers.
  • Port of Los Angeles Police, Homeland Security, Los Angeles City and County Fire Departments, Los Angeles City Policy Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff, U.S. Navy
  • Seals, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection were provided access to CBYC's pool and dining hall for special training.
  • American Red Cross held an Emergency Preparedness overnighter for their youth members.
  • American Red Cross also conducted an overnight Youth Leadership Program at CBYC.
  • CBYC, at Airman & Family Readiness Center's request, put together a day camp program for special needs youth serviced by the organization. Attesting to its success, one youth commented to an advisor, "I am normal here."


CBYC enjoys  the  talents  of  many  skilled, dedicated volunteers to maintain the facility, in addition to providing youth training  and leadership. During 2016-2017, volunteers helped with repairs such as plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and appliances. Packs and troops -- both girls and boys  --  volunteered  to  help  clean  the  grounds monthly. For larger clean-up projects following high tides and winter storms, volunteers organized service events, often involving Boy Scout troops,  Cub  Scout  packs,  Girl  Scout  troops,  and community groups. The Greater Los Angeles Area's Order of the Arrow helped rebuild fencing and railings around the amphitheater.


CBYC is operated and managed through a full-time resident director, assisted by a professional staff and numerous volunteers. Most of CBYC's staff resides in San Pedro and surrounding communities. GLAAC funds the operating and capital expenses of CBYC, and provides in-kind volunteer services, through fundraising, supplemented by camp fees and contributions of funds by donors, and donations of time and talent by volunteers.