Our History

Campus by the Sea was founded in 1951 as the West Coast Training and Retreat Center for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. The men and women who established the camp were all part of the Greatest Generation. Many were WWII veterans who connected with InterVarsity while attending college on the GI bill. Listed below are the storytellers and their first-hand accounts of the early days. We are grateful for each one of them.

Mel and Helen Friesen

In 1951, Mel and his wife Helen traveled to the island and rented a shore boat to take them out to Camp Fox in order to look it over and negotiate a two week rental. On the way back from their visit to Camp Fox Mel noticed the abandoned buildings in Gallagher’s Cove and asked the boat driver to swing in for a closer look. He was inspired by the potential he saw in the rugged canyon and upon arriving in Avalon he immediately met with Malcom Renton, vice president of the Island Company, to ask about the possibilities of renting the cove.  Read more...

Marilyn Byer

In 1951 Marilyn Byer completed her studies in Occupational Therapy at USC, married Paul Byer, and made her first of many trips to Gallagher’s Cove. In addition to raising five children and working in her vocation, she hosted students and InterVarsity staff in her home and worked with Paul, doing whatever was necessary to serve the ministry. Marilyn lives in Pasadena, California. These stories were told to Steve Stuckey in February, 2012. Read more...

Jack and Beverly Irvine

Jack and Bev Irvine are long-time friends of Campus by the Sea. Jack was involved as a student with InterVarsity at Sacramento State. He attended the Urbana Missions Convention in 1951 and sensed God’s call to serve cross culturally. Their family lived in the Middle East, first in Afghanistan and later in Iran from 1953 to 1965 where he taught English. They returned to the States in 1966 where Jack worked as the Foreign Student Advisor first in Sacramento and later for twenty years at Merritt College in Oakland, California. Bev served as an artist and teacher during those years. For twenty three summers, Jack and Bev ran the family camp craft program at Campus by the Sea. Many a child learned to fish with Uncle Jack in the early morning hours. They now live in Pacific Grove, California. Read more...

Tom Headland

He wandered into Gallagher’s Canyon as a sixteen year old in 1953 and fell in love with the place. Barefoot, shaggy-haired, dressed in torn Levis, armed with home-made bow and arrows, he lived off the land while exploring Catalina Island. He was not yet a Christian and Mel and Helen Friesen welcomed him not only into the camp but into their lives. He eventually became a follower of Jesus, married Janet, joined Wycliffe Bible Translators, moved to the Philippines, and had three children. He has logged fifty years as a translator and is now an international anthropology consultant with SIL International in Dallas, Texas. He has a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Hawaii. He has published twelve books and over 100 scholarly articles. This is Tom’s story…

Bob and Jeanne Mannes

From 1956-1971 Bob Mannes served as the Operations Manager for Campus by the Sea. Joined by his wife Jeanne and their five children, they spent sixteen summers at Gallagher’s Cove doing whatever was necessary to serve the students and keep the camp running. During the school year, Bob taught mechanical engineering at USC. He was faculty advisor to the InterVarsity group that included Paul and Marilyn Byer, among others. In 1971 Bob was appointed Dean of Students at USC and served in that position with distinction for twenty years. Bob and Jeanne, age 91 and 87 respectively, live in Denver, Colorado. These are their stories.

George Giacumakis

Dr. George Giacumakis served on the original Campus by the Sea committee beginning in 1968. He met Mel Friesen in 1963 when he began teaching history at Cal State University Fullerton. George, his wife Joan, and their entire family have participated in the ministry of Campus by the Sea for many years. Dr Giacumakis is the Director Emeritus of the South Orange County Campuses of California State University. He is professor of history at CSUF Fullerton and Biola, and the director of Museum of Biblical & Sacred Writings. Here is his story.

Jim O'Bryan

Jim O’Bryan was a USC classmate with Paul and Marilyn Byer. Most of his career has been spent in the insurance industry in Southern California. He served on the board of InterVarsity for ten years and on the corporation for twenty-seven years. In 1969 when the InterVarsity staff led by Paul Byer made the decision to discontinue use of Campus by the Sea, a committee of volunteers emerged to take responsibility for management of the facility. Jim represented the CBS committee to the board of IVCF and argued their proposal. Jim and his wife Mary of fifty-nine years live in Grant’s Pass, Oregon. They have four grown children and five grandchildren. Here is his story.

Roxanne Young

Ray and Roxanne Young and their family played a key role in the life of Campus by the Sea in the early transition years. First as college singles, then as a married couple and later as a family, they spent nearly every spring and summer at CBS. Ray served as mechanic, winter caretaker, Interim Camp Director and Camp Manager (1979-1984) when the family lived on-site full-time. Over the years Roxanne’s roles included lifeguard, secretary, as well as cook, laundress, and counselor to young CBS staff as she was caring for their growing children.

Ray died in an accident in 1993 on the mainland. At that time oldest son Nate was part of the staff at CBS. Roxanne, an English teacher until her retirement in 2012, currently lives near Nate and his wife Mailin and their two young sons in Turkey. Here is her story.