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Resident Camp Roots: The History of Arrowhead


We invite your girl to be part of these traditions at resident camp!

1943–1948: It all started with some property in Washington
After a boom in membership and changing camp landscape (literally), it was decided that a larger camp location was needed for the council. A Girl Scout camp committee looked all over Oregon for the perfect site, visiting 16 different locations. The five year search ended on February 14, 1948 when the committee visited Wind Mountain, near Stevenson, Washington. The group of about eight gazed in wonder and said, “This is it.”

The property at Wind Mountain was purchased in 1948. Mr. Edward McLain, the property owner, graciously contributed about half of the purchase price to Girl Scouts. The only buildings on the site at the time of purchase were a caretaker’s cottage, trapper’s cabin, and the Duck Lodge on Duck Lake. The 1,200 acres was originally named Wind Mountain. In July and August 1948 there were six, 5-day sessions of camp.

1949: Building Camp Wind Mountain and community support
The council began to build roads, erect buildings, establish a water system and bring in electric power. By 1949 plans for the main lodge and unit shelters were under construction.

In August 1949, a Girl Scout Ceremony “Blessing of the House” was held. This ceremony is customary at the establishment and naming of a new camp. The camp was officially named Camp Wind Mountain. During the event, a very generous donation came from one visitor who enabled the addition of extra amenities, like windows on the lodge. The official naming event combined with the generous gift, resulted in many more donations from the public which helped to cover additional needs. Several Portland lumber companies even donated lumber.

1949–1964: Old camp
Many buildings were built between 1949 -1964 and are referred to as old camp. These include: the original lodge (which burned down in 1962), the original unit houses, ranger’s home, corn crib, caretaker’s home, and Celilo Lodge.

1964: Collins Point slide means changes for camp
Throughout the Columbia River Gorge there is a changing landscape. After some shifting in 1964, many of the structures of old camp needed significant maintenance. All of the camp lakes have changed with the moving land. Some lakes have drained and others have been created. Home Lake, east of the property and used by Girl Scouts now, has changed significantly since 1960. It is one-tenth of its former size and now has a peninsula projecting into it.

1968: A new camp is built…Camp Arrowhead (see some original plans below!)
Construction of Camp Arrowhead began in 1968 on stable ground on Little Wind Mountain. The images in this article are representations of the original plans. Some came together as shown, and others (like the swimming pool) are a little different.

Buildings built after 1968 include: Arrowhead lodge (pictured below), guest apartment/infirmary, director cabin, staff house, birdhouses, unit houses (pictured below), Cheesiah, tepees/trapper’s cabin, and swimming pool (pictured below).

2007: Geological report assesses camp safety2005: Climbing wall brings added opportunities for confidence building
Camp Arrowhead is also home to the Marie Lamfrom climbing wall, a 40 ft. structure that offers a chance for campers to get out of their comfort zones. Girls are able to try activities at whatever level they are most comfortable with. For some girls, it is just touching the wall and for others, it’s going all the way to the top. This climbing wall is unique within our council and only available at Camp Arrowhead.

Since the land shift in 1964, no new buildings have been constructed in old camp, but a geological report has assured GSOSW that the land is safe for regular use. The study has helped to determine where new camp structures are built and to make sure that all necessary safety standards are upheld.

Camp Arrowhead now
After years of giving pieces of the property back to the U.S. Forest Service, Camp Arrowhead now consists of about 266 acres of land. The swimming pool at camp was recently re-opened for our 2015 resident camp season after an approximate eight year closure. It is a definite highlight of camp.

Camp Arrowhead has been, and will continue to be, a location that presents many great learning opportunities for girls. Camp Arrowhead offers unique pioneer study (woodstove cooking and an authentic log cabin), nature study (forest management, wildlife, native plants and trees, weather, and ponds and lake ecology), geological study (Collins Point slide), and other activities (hiking, backpacking, outdoor camp skills, and swimming).