Home Environmental education Camp Fire Comes Home to North Long Beach at DeForest Park – Press Telegram

Camp Fire Comes Home to North Long Beach at DeForest Park – Press Telegram


Camp Fire will return to North Long Beach, with a 20-year lease to operate the town’s community center at DeForest Park, as well as some of the open space nearby.

The lease will be presented to City Council on Tuesday, January 18.

It is the culmination of more than four years of negotiation and planning. Camp Fire Angeles has been offering after-school programs and center enhancements since 2018.

The 15-acre park has the Los Angeles River to the west. There is also a 34-acre county flood retention pond to the south. This pond was a city-operated nature trail – overgrown with non-native plants and weeds until DeForest Wetlands was completed. The Long Beach Conservation Corps is building a small facility there and will maintain the wetland trails.

This new lease gives Camp Fire responsibility for the facility and planned discovery trails in a 3-acre northern section of DeForest Park. The campfire would be needed to allow the public and other groups to use the facilities when there are no regular campfire activities and to manage the schedule.

Under the 20-year lease, the annual rent is $24,570. But Camp Fire will receive a rent credit in consideration of the public benefit provided and the utility payments Camp Fire will make. The lease amount will increase every five years and there is an option for a 10 year extension.

Camp Fire has already made extensive repairs to the community center, according to executive director Georgia Stewart. The group received grants from the Port of Long Beach and the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy to renovate the center just before the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020.

“Just when we had to close there was a rain storm,” Stewart said in October 2020. “There was a leak and some of the tile started lifting.

“I had it checked, and sure enough, there was asbestos,” she added.

In addition to paying to have the asbestos removed, Camp Fire added a new roof, doors and windows to the building. More grants pay for building the trail.

“The vision for DeForest Park and the Nature Center is to create a safe space for families to recreate and experience the natural habitat of the Lower Los Angeles River and wetlands,” said Vice Mayor and Councilman of the Ninth District, Rex Richardson, in an email. “This exciting partnership with Camp Fire, alongside the new Conservation Corps Environmental Education Center, will help bring new programs, new resources, and ultimately a camping experience that will benefit the youth of our community.”

The lease also means Camp Fire’s operations in Long Beach have come full circle.

Camp Fire, then known as Camp Fire Girls, was established in Long Beach in 1925. The group got its start in North Long Beach at Camp Suanga, a day camp near Artesia Street and Long Beach Boulevard . In 1969, construction of Highway 91 closed the camp and operations were moved to DeForest Park. A second camp, Shiwaka, opened the same year at Carson Street and Studebaker Road.

Activity gradually moved to Camp Shiwaka and by 1983 there were no more Camp Fire activities at DeForest.

This time, however, it is no longer necessary to choose between one or the other. Programming will continue at Camp Shiwaka even as activities ramp up at DeForest Park.

Sign up for The Localist, our daily email newsletter with handpicked stories relevant to where you live. Subscribe here.