Northwest Passage Dance Camp - 2019

About us

Things to know about our camp.


Our residential dance camp is a community creation where campers come together to dance, eat, and commune with each other in a collective setting.  It couldn't take place without the generous contribution of time and energy by all.  We ask that campers volunteer for one or more "camp jobs" during the weekend, so that Northwest Passage will continue to be a rich and joyous experience for all.  There will be camper chore sign-up sheets near the entrance to Fanning Hall when you check in.  Thank you in advance for pitching in!


Always in demand, Beth Gibans will provide us with delicious meals.  There will be options for both carnivores and vegetarians. Beth will make reasonable efforts to satisfy special dietary needs if advance notice is provided.  We do NOT provide dinner on Friday night, so eat before you arrive, or please bring something for yourself.


The roots of Northwest Passage can be traced to 1979 when the English and Scottish country dancers had a fall week end getaway at Camp Westwind on the Oregon coast. They repeated the week end at Camp Magruder in 1980. These first two camps were organized by individuals—PCDC did not yet exist. However after the 1980 week end, a group of the camp organizers decided to create a formal organization, which could oversee the camps and other dances. This was how the Portland Country Dance Community came into being. Dick Lewis and Molly Libby, both ECD callers, were the early organizers of PCDC.

By 1982, the camp was established at Suttle Lake on the 3rd week end in September, remaining on this week end until sometime in the later ‘90s when it was forced to move to Labor Day Weekend because of the availability of the facility. Most people preferred having the 3-day longer camp, so it became re-established on this weekend. Over this period of time, the nature of dancing and music evolved. The English beginnings of the camp remained very strong at first, but gradually contra dancing gained popularity and contra dance organizers became part of the week end committee. The focus remained on two different dance types each year alternating between contra and English one year and contra and something else (Scandinavian, swing, squares) the next year. Music workshops were a always a prominent feature of the week ends.

In 2003, the camp needed to make a very sudden move because forest fire crews were stationed at the Suttle Lake facility. The camp was then held at Camp Namanu, near Sandy. Dancers hugely preferred this location over Suttle Lake, so it continued there, still with the alternating dance format.

In 2009, another move was forced on the week end when Namanu became unavailable over Labor Day Weekend. The camp then relocated to its current location at Kiwanis on Mount Hood.  Participant numbers initially declined during this era.

In 2014, the camp underwent a major change in format. The alternating years remained, but 2014 was all English Country Dance, followed by 2015 all Contra Dance.  Since then camp has consistently filled to capacity.  2019 is an all-Contra year.  And the tradition continues...

(See who performed at prior camps on our Archives page).