by KELLEY GUSICH | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Local Trailblazer

PQ volunteer Marilyn Sedlund has a deep-rooted connection to the outdoors. “I grew up as a Girl Scout,” shared Marilyn. “My parents didn’t camp, but my Girl Scout troop did, and this is where my love of camping, hiking, and being in the outdoors began.” All three of Marilyn’s daughters were Girl Scouts, where she was camping mom in her eldest daughter’s troop and a troop leader for both of her youngest. Though Marilyn hadn’t backpacked recently, when middle daughter Colleen was in seventh grade, she decided to start and has since become a backpack trainer for Girl Scouts.

San Diego Council’s hiking/backpacking program is open to any registered Girl Scout, youth through adult. Participation can be with a troop or individually, and everyone going through the program follows the same progression. Girls in sixth grade or above start with a Wilderness Hiking class, learning the 10 Essentials: basic trail safety, first aid, and what type of shoes and clothes should be worn. They take a short local hike. “After this class anyone in seventh grade and beyond can take a Basic Backpacking class,” Marilyn confirmed, “which includes an overnight trip.” That class builds on skills already learned, including equipment, food preparation, trail safety, and working together as a group.


Marilyn recently spoke about upcoming trips she will be leading at Hikerfest, an annual event whereby interested Scouts come together for past trip videos and great speakers. Later this year Marilyn will be training her oldest granddaughter’s troop in Basic Backpacking and taking an overnight trip to the Cottonwood Lakes area in the Sierras.

Name: Marilyn Rose Sedlund
Community: Rancho Peñasquitos
Volunteer Affiliation: Girl Scouts
Profession: Yard Duty at Canyon View Elementary
Family: Married to Clifford Sedlund; 3 Daughters – Melissa South (son-in-law Joe), Colleen Munoz (son-in-law Edward), and Ariel Sedlund; 2 Granddaughters – Mia (12) and Mylee (10); Grandson – Alex (2)
Hobbies & Interests: Backpacking, hiking, paddle boarding, sewing, and theater
Favorite Places to Visit in 92129: PQ Canyon, Peñasquitos Lutheran Church

“[Colleen] and I took several advanced trips with the Girl Scouts, including a five-day Crown Loop Trail and four nights on the Appalachian Trail,” Marilyn said. Her other daughters have also gone through the program; Melissa as an adult and Ariel while she was in Scouting. “I love to see girls and adults going out in the wilderness,” she smiled, “and seeing things they didn’t even know existed.” If Marilyn could grant wishes for the Girl Scouts, these include teaching all the San Diego Girl Scouts about the amazing Backpacking program, having enough adult volunteers, and seeing Girl Scouts nationwide do more backpacking!

Marilyn most loves watching the girls grow in self-confidence and reliance. “When they backpack for four or more days, cooking their own food, making important decisions on hiking in bad weather, what trail to take, if a river is safe to cross – it prepares them to be confident, independent adults.”