MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Past what seems to be the end of the Town of Quantico, nearly 150 boat slips line the water’s edge. Just beyond the east end of Potomac Avenue, sit two small buildings. One on either end of the road. Kayaks are stacked rows high; life jackets hang to dry in the sun, and outdoor gear waits to be fitted for its weekend destination on the Potomac River.
Some, more familiar than others, know the Quantico Marina has been a piece of Marine Corps history for many years. While it was commissioned in 1919 as a loading port for troops and supplies, it has now served over 40 years as a recreation facility to Marines, their families, and nearby residents.
Kate Cutshall, outdoor commercial recreation program manager with Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) Quantico, begins her mornings at the Quantico Marina taking note of wind and water patterns visible from her window. Her one-person office is right behind the reservations desk and smells like freshly chopped wood. Outdoor recreation may be in a somewhat of a discreet location, but there, Quantico offers many opportunities for service members to get out and experience the outdoors.
“Being at the end of the Town of Quantico, we see a lot of foot traffic of service members walking around for the first time,” said Cutshall, “I really enjoy it when they come in, and we talk about the different ways for them to get outside and enjoy the area, or for example when they find out we have fishing kayaks that they can take out on the river without needing a car for transport.”
Cutshall started her career at Quantico as the manager for the Outdoor Adventures with MCCS in 2016. Her background working with summer camps made her the ideal candidate, not to mention she grew up the daughter of a Marine, where she spent most of her high school days working for MCCS Iwakuni. Being very familiar with military life, Cutshall continued to work for the Department of the Navy, where she became a part of the management team at the Navy Lake Site Allatoona, Georgia, in 2018.
“My position at Allatoona really taught me how to combine my recreational skills and help create memorable experiences for vacationing service members and their families,” said Cutshall.
In 2020, she returned to Quantico, but this time as the marina manager where she currently works as the head of the Quantico Marina and Gear Issue office, the liaison for the paintball park, and more recently a support role for the renovation of one of the community’s favorite pastimes, Lunga Recreation Facility. Her goal - to provide the best outdoor recreation programs for service members and their families.
“Outdoor Commercial Recreation programs impact Quantico in providing a healthy outlet for fun and exercise within the base,” said Cutshall, “We provide a service to our DoD patrons at low cost so that they can enjoy the beautiful outdoors of Virginia in an affordable and safe environment,” she continued.
Outdoor recreation offers everything from biking, camping, and water sports to paintball, boat rentals, event equipment rentals, and large recreation equipment storage. The gear rental program offers a variety of equipment on a daily, weekend or weekly basis. Many of the programs can be tailored to the needs of the individual or groups interested in outdoor activities on base.
“For Example, Gear Issue facilitates unit PTs [physical training] for small groups on the installation as a different source of PT,” said Cutshall, “It’s fun, and pushes the comfort zone of some of our service members while being in a safe environment by kayaking, paddle boarding, or canoeing on the Potomac River.”
Cutshall takes pride in her programs and goes above and beyond to provide next level customer service to all patrons who visit the outdoor recreation office. She is able to provide patrons with a wealth of knowledge and get them on the right track to enjoying Quantico outdoors.
Civilian Marines bring an asset to the Marine Corps, and with them a fresh outside perspective.
“One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing our patrons enjoying our programs, I'm sure it sounds cliché, but that is the real heart of why I do this job.”