There’s no denying it – a summer camp isn’t exactly a “normal” wedding venue. I love our venue (we did pick it! 😉 ), but it does come with its quirks.
Camp Westwind is situated on the southern shore of the Salmon River estuary in northwest Oregon. It’s completely surrounded by land preserved by The Nature Conservancy, and the camp itself strives to live in symbiosis with the land. It’s less a “summer camp” these days (it was formerly owned by the YWCA) and more a wilderness education camp.
The primary goal of Camp Westwind (besides environmental education) is to conserve the ecosystem it’s in. As such, they don’t allow many cars to drive directly to the site.
We can have about one to two cars for our entire wedding group (all 80ish of us). The majority of our guests will have to park on the north shore of the estuary in a sanctioned parking lot and cross the river in a barge.
Since this is an estuary, this means that the banks of the river are very sandy. The barges can only cross at high tide. That’s one crossing per day, two at the very most! Our wedding is going to be three nights – our friends and family will
be trapped have the pleasure of our company for a full weekend!
The campgrounds are large enough for our guests to explore a little bit and relax during the two days before our wedding. That’s the idea, actually – we want our wedding weekend to feel more like a reunion of friends and a new-union of family.
Another “quirk” is the sleeping arrangements. Most of our guests will be sleeping in cabins like this:
Where, on the inside, it looks like this:
Two words – bunk. beds. I’m cool with it, most of my friends will be cool with it, all of Mr. Bear Cub’s friends will be cool with it, and most of his family will be cool with it. We like roughing it! We’re all friends and family – there’s no airs to be putting on, here!
I’m not so sure some of my family members (and a few of his) are cool with it, though. Luckily, there are a couple cabins that are a little more… technologically advanced. These cabins are fully-heated, though – they’re not that rustic. We are trying to encourage all of our guests to stay at the camp with us. Due to the idiosyncrasies with crossing the river, staying at a hotel (over 40 minutes away, at closest!) would be difficult. Plus, we wouldn’t get to see those guests as much over the course of the weekend – we want to see our loved ones!
There’s another little teeny thing about the cabins – they don’t come equipped with bed linens. This is a summer camp! Usually people bring their sleeping bags and pillows.
My mom, the most organized person in the world (this is a compliment!), is a little concerned about the logistics of getting everyone sleeping linens. The vast majority of our guests (including ourselves!) are traveling a long ways to get to our wedding – the worry is they won’t have room in their luggage for a
sleeping bag sheets and a blanket and a small pillow. We’re looking into renting bed linens from a hotel, but I don’t know how well that’s going to pan out.
The next “quirk” directly affects wedding decor – the campgrounds don’t allow any open flames. We can have a bonfire in the fire pit (‘mallow-roasting after party!! Chubby bunny battle royale!!), and a “unity candle” if we want, but no candles anywhere else.
This is a real bummer, because Mr. Bear Cub and I love to eat by candlelight. It sets such an awesome mood for dining. Unfortunately, I can’t have centerpieces like this:
There is, however, a super-sweet fireplace in the lodge. We can’t have candles on the table, but we can have a roaring fire in the hearth! In the end, I know this is for the best. September is fire season, and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for starting a forest fire at my venue!
The last little quirk is that they don’t allow any pets. Again, I totally understand this – they’re trying to maintain the ecosystem, and dogs just love to chew on and dig up “ecosystem”. This is a super bummer. We got our dog, Beauregard (bo-tard) when we moved to Chile. He’s our little boy, and he’s the only one we’d want as our ring-retriever!
He’s already pretty good at retrieving the beers!