Westwind’s Whisper Echoes Still

Alumni and their children comb the beach on the annual retreat at Camp Westwind.

By Katelyn Best '13 | June 19, 2017

Reedies gathered Saturday afternoon of Reunions 2017 to reminisce about Camp Westwind, the legendary annual retreat on the Oregon coast.

The session, led by Jim Quinn ’83 and Johanna Colgrove ’92, kicked off with a slideshow of the surf, cliffs, caves, and sunsets of the secluded camp.

As attendees treated themselves to cardamom pound cake—from a recipe that Johanna retrieved on Facebook from a former Paradox baker—Jim gave a history of Camp Westwind, starting with the collision of the North American and Juan de Fuca plates 50 million years ago. The camp itself, which was built by the YWCA in 1936, first hosted Reedies in 1962. It was the start of a decades-long tradition of beach bonfires, talent shows, coastal adventures, and mythic late-night escapades. Through the ’70s, according to Jim, Westwind became such an epic event that classes weren’t held the following Monday, in order to accommodate campers making their way back to campus.

As early as 1970, though, trouble was in the wind: a note from that year on YWCA letterhead informs the student body that “The Y is unhappy with Reed’s behavior.” Finally, in 1987, someone forgot to file the deposit to reserve the camp, and when another group asked to reserve the time slot, they were given enthusiastic approval.

Fourteen years later, the tradition was resurrected—for alumni rather than students—as an event sponsored by the Portland chapter of the alumni association, with support from the alumni office. Key players for getting things off the ground in those early years included Jim, Johanna, Constance San Juan ’87, Paul Manson ’01, and Mike Teskey, among others. The weekend is now a family-friendly affair with Reedies of many eras (typically '60s to the present) filling up the cabins. Johanna has been running the kitchen every year since (thus the cardamom pound cake connection!)

Jim talked about requesting a camp reservation with some trepidation, recalling “I got pretty far into the planning process before I mentioned the words ‘Reed College.’” Fortunately, there had been enough turnover that the words didn’t set off sirens, and alumni have returned every year since—often with their children in tow.

This year’s trip is scheduled for October 13-15. Join us—whether you are coming from Portland, New York, Kansas, or Florida! Registrations through June 30 receive an additional 10% off.

Tags: Alumni