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Resident Camp Roots: The History of Cleawox


We invite your girl to be part of these traditions at resident camp! Sign her up before February 8, 2016 to receive a camp Nalgene® bottle in addition to a special resident camp t-shirt and patch.

What's in a name?
Cleawox, an English pronunciation for a Native American word meaning Clea = alder, Wox = paddle wood, is the name given to the adjacent lake and our beloved Camp Cleawox. It is said that large alders graced the shore of the lake from which canoe paddles were made by local Native Americans.

1930s – Initial construction
Girl Scouts began camping at the Camp Cleawox site before the signing of a property lease with the United States Forest Service on May 8, 1930. There were few facilities at that time, but between 1930 and 1937 several areas were cleared, shelters were built, trails were constructed and a crafts shop was established. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built these facilities, including the original lodge and Adirondack shelters, trails, etc., in the late 1930s. The 1937 plan document, “Cleawox Lake Organization Tract,” shows proposed structures, activity areas and trails. The orientation and locations of the structures shown were revised when the buildings were actually constructed and many of the proposed structures were never built. The structures used by the first Girl Scouts have all since been removed or destroyed by the harsh coastal weather. The activity areas have been overgrown by native vegetation, leaving little trace of their former existence. Our current use of the property is guided by what remains of these areas. 

1950s – No more coming to camp on barges!
Prior to the mid 1950s, there was no road leading to Camp Cleawox from Highway 101. To get to camp girls would arrive at Honeyman State Park and take a barge across Lake Cleawox with all of their camping gear. The construction of Mitchell Loop Road allowed vehicle entrance for supplies, equipment and girls. Below is an illustrated depiction of what it might have been like for girls traveling to camp by barge.

1962 – Weather destruction hits camp
The 1962 Columbus Day storm caused the destruction of much of the site. Large swaths of trees were blown down through the center of the site requiring loggers to remove the debris with heavy equipment. The scars of this operation and its residue remained visible for ten years. The falling trees destroyed the unit located on Viking Hill. All remains were eventually removed and native plants began to grow.  The west end of the infirmary and all of the shower houses were also destroyed during the storm. Both structures had been repaired or replaced by the end of 1964.

1990s – 2015
In 1996, a new winterized main lodge was completed. It is equipped with a large dining area, commercial kitchen, two bathrooms and a fireplace. A watercolor picture of the old lodge was graciously donated and can be seen

The early 2000s brought the removal of the last CCC Adirondacks in the Clippers unit. These were replaced with large platforms and platform tents. The tents were eventually replaced with open-air cabins on the platforms and the boat house at the canoe dock was rebuilt. In 2007, kayaking was expanded at Pirates cove with a fleet of open deck kayaks, river kayaks and tripping kayaks, growing the programming options.

In 2008, Girl Scouts of Western Rivers Council merged with Girl Scouts of Columbia Rivers Council, Girl Scouts of Santiam Council and Girl Scouts of Winema Council to form Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington. Since the realignment, significant improvements have been made in the Clippers cabins, adding windows and doors and extending roof lines. In addition, the Adirondacks in Pirates and Explorers have been enclosed by adding a front wall with screen doors and windows.  

Camp is still about tradition!
With all of the changes throughout the years, many traditions have stayed the same. Some camper favorites include stories at campfire about mythical Tajar – Camp Cleawox’s mischievous but friendly animal occupant. Each week girls earn the right to be known as the Knight of the Sand Dune, a tradition started long ago.