A history of United Methodist-related camp and retreat centers in Oregon and Idaho.
The overall camping program in Oregon & Idaho began in 1917 through the Epworth Leagues in Ketchum, Idaho and Jefferson, Oregon. Each site has a long and rich history; what follows is a brief history of each.
Alton L. Collins Retreat Center
Alton L. Collins Retreat Center near Portland, Oregon began as a small rustic youth camp in the 1930’s or 40’s. It was called Camp Leewood and was located on a distant end of the property. The property was purchased after the land had been logged. In 1981, the camp and retreat ministries built an adult retreat center on the other side of the property amidst trees considered “old growth” timber, although the site was logged in the recent past.
Camp Latgawa near Medford was established in 1953 and was originally called “Dead Indian Soda Springs”. Growth in understanding and respect for native peoples led to the much more appropriate renaming to “Latgawa”. “Latgawa” is the language spoken by a group of Shasta native americans. The camp is located on National Forest Service property near where a mineral spa & hotel existed in the late 1800’s. The camp was originally an ecumenical venture with other Protestant churches. Today the ministry is part of the partnership between United Methodists and Episcopalians
Camp Magruder is on the Oregon Coast near Rockaway Beach. The Camp Magruder Epworth League met for many years at a property near the present camp. The current property was purchased in 1942 by the Oregon Annual Conference. The ministry at Magruder has continued to grow and is our largest facility, boasting multiple lodges and cabins for a variety of program uses for up to 250 people.
Sawtooth Camp is in the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho. The Methodist Men of the Idaho Conference purchased the land in 1948. An interesting story about Sawtooth is that before the land was purchased, the valley was scheduled to be strip-mined. Snow fell early in the fall of 1946, and then a law was passed effective January 1, 1947 which prohibited strip mining in the state of Idaho, preserving this beautiful valley! It is one of our most scenic camps, as can be seen in pictures elsewhere on our website. It has a modern lodge and rustic cabins for summertime and shoulder season use. One of Sawtooth’s gifts is its secluded location; in the winter, it is under about 10-12 feet of snow and accessible only by snowmobile.
Suttle Lake Camp
Suttle Lake Camp is located in the Cascade Mountains in central Oregon near Sisters. A local church Epworth League began to hold summer camps at Suttle Lake on the Forest Service property in 1920. They held annual camps there and then secured a lease from the National Forest Service in 1925. Suttle Lake Camp boasts two lodges and many cabins and can host up to 150 people.
Wallowa Lake Camp
Wallowa Lake Camp is in northeast Oregon near Joseph. Wallowa Lake is our oldest camp, having been purchased in 1922 by the Epworth League in the Idaho Conference. It is located on what was originally the homeland of the Wallowa Band of the Nez Perce Indians. It is a cultural center for both Native Americans and many artists in the area. Wallowa Lake hosts family camps, cultural events like Fishtrap, and Horse Camps for young people. Newly constructed wooden yurts offer unique and comfortable accommodations to our adult guests.