Outdoor & Camping Programs

Document 1

Document 2

Cascade Head

Camp Westwind

 

 

Camp Westwind

Research by Ann Bershaw

Beach Ride, c. 1970
Wilson Lodge, c. 1980

"Uncle" Bliss Clark

        Bliss Clark and his wife, Florence Clark, worked as caretakers of Camp Westwind at Cascade Head between 1940 and 1955. Born in Biggs, Oregon, Bliss Clark graduated from Oregon State College and the Officers Training School in Fort Monroe, Virginia. Clark's family was in the lumber and orchard business, and he had experience with the land. He married Florence in 1916, and the couple moved to the coast to care for Florence's asthma, where they also ran an orchard. It was Florence who discovered that the YWCA might have a job for her husband at Westwind. They made the place their home and also raised three daughters on the site. Bliss Clark planted dune grass and tree cover to protect against the wind and dispensed weather data to military and civilian gatherers. In the summer, the couple helped care for the hundreds of YWCA campers, who referred to Bliss Clark affectionately as "Uncle Bliss."[1]

Sunset, c. 1990

        Camp Westwind's accommodations were very simple in the early decades when the Clarks served as caretakers, with no phone, electricity, refrigeration, or indoor toilets. Firewood was scrounged from the beach. After 1960, substantial improvements were made, including the construction of Wilson Lodge in 1980. Programming also expanded. Westwind offered activities such as swimming, canoeing, hiking, theatricals, and crafts, traditional mainstays of YWCA camp life. Some of the inland sports practiced at Gearhart, like tennis, fell away at Westwind, and when horses were purchased in 1979, riding became a signature activity for campers. Other innovations included a mother-child camp in 1963, a single-parent camp in 1974 (the first in the nation), and in 1976, Westwind was opened to boy campers. Camping often sealed the affection and commitment of girls and young women to the YWCA. As one noted, "A happier summer, I am sure, was never had by a group of girls as those who were fortunate enough to come to Camp Westwind."[2]

 

1. "Profile: 'Uncle' Bliss Clark: Weather Mentor, Dispenser of Data," North Lincoln News-Guard, 2 February 1961, clipping in Portland YWCA Archives, Portland, Oregon.
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2. Joan Marie Carlson, "The Beachcomber," Camp Westwind Newsletter, c. 1950, Portland YWCA Archives, Portland, Oregon.
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