The roots of Northwest Passage can be traced to 1979 when the English and Scottish country dancers had a fall weekend getaway at Camp Westwind on the Oregon coast. They repeated the weekend at Camp Magruder in 1980. These first two camps were organized by individuals – PCDC did not yet exist. However after the 1980 weekend, 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 weekend in September, remaining on this weekend 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 weekend 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 always a prominent feature of the weekends.

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 weekend when Namanu became unavailable over Labor Day Weekend. The camp then relocated to its current location at Kiwanis on Mount Hood.

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.  After 2017 and 2019’s very low turnout, we phased out the Contra and became an all English Country Dance camp.  And the tradition continues…

Prior years’ staff included:

  • 2023 (ECD)
    • Goldcrest – Daron Douglas, Paul Oorts, Dave Wiesler
    • Fine Companions – Betsy Branch, Lisa Scott, Bill Tomczak, Erik Weberg
    • Callers Brad Foster, Orly Krasner
  • 2022 (ECD)
    • Alchemy – Eric Martin, Rachel Bell, Karen Axelrod
    • The Whoots – Shira Kammen, Jim Oaken, with guest Anita Anderson
    • Callers Gene Murrow, Melissa Running
  • 2020, 2021,  (ECD) – cancelled due to COVID-19
  • 2019 (Contra)
    • Eloise & Company – Becky Tracy, Rachel Bell, Andrew VanNorstrand
    • KGB – Claude Ginsburg, Dave Bartley, Julie King
    • Callers, Adina Gordon, Mary Wesley
  • 2018 (ECD)
    • Persons of Quality – Jon Berger, Rebecca King, Jim Oakden
    • Fine Companions – Betsy Branch, Bill Tomczak, Erik Weberg, Mark Douglass
    • Callers David Millstone, Kalia Kliban
  • 2017 (Contra)
    • The Free Raisins – Amy Englesberg, Jeff Kaufman, Audrey Knuth
    • Maivish – Adam Broome, Matthew Olwell, Jaige Trudel
    • Callers Seth Tepfer, Lindsey Dono
  • 2016 (ECD)
    • Tricky Brits – Betsy Cooper, Dave Bartley, Anita Anderson, Sande Gillette
    • Alchemy – Eric Martin, Rachel Bell, Karen Axelrod
    • Callers Bruce Hamilton, Joanna Reiner
  • 2015 (Contra)
    • Joyride – Erik Weberg, George Penk, Jeff Kerssen-Griep, Sue Songer
    • Notorious – Betsy Branch (subbing for Eden), Larry Unger, Sam Bartlett, Mark Hellenberg
    • Callers Lisa Greenleaf, Jeremy Korr
  • 2014 (ECD)
    • Hold the Mustard – Barbara Greenberg, Daniel Beerbohm, Kathy Talvitie, Paul Prestopino
    • Ember – Earl Gaddis, Mark Douglass, Betsy Branch
    • Callers Joanna Reiner, Paul Ross
  • 2013
    • Blue Ribbon Dance Band – Rodney Miller, Sam Bartlett, Max Newman
    • Lift Ticket – Rex Blazer, T.J. Johnson, Russell S. and Seth Houston
    • Callers Carol Ormand, Kathy Anderson
  • 2012
    • Paul Hutchinson and John Hymas
    • Roguery – Anita Anderson, Dave Bartley, Shira Kammen, Jim Oakden
    • Callers Rebecca Lay, Wendy Graham
  • 2011
    • Evil Diane – Sam Bartlett, Abby Ladin, Matt Brown, Jim Nelson
    • Lost & Nameless Orchestra – Chris Peterson, Patrick Conway, Kimberly Zilenicki, Nathan Quiring, Chris Carroll
    • Callers Cis Hinkle, Ralph Sweet
  • 2010
    • Goldcrest – Daron Douglas, Dave Wiesler, Paul Oorts
    • Night Watch – Naomi Morse, Owen Morrison, Elvie Miller
    • Callers Joseph PimentelSue Dupré
  • 2009 (First year at Kiwanis)
    • Syncopaths – Ryan McKasson, Jeff Spero, Christa Burch, Bill Flores
    • Elixir – Ethan Hazzard-Watkins, Anna Patton, Jesse Hazzard-Watkins, Owen Morrison, Nils Fredland
    • Callers Susan Michaels, Nils Fredland
  • 2008
    • Notorious – Eden MacAdam-Somer, Larry Unger, Ralph Gordon
    • Phantom Power – Bruce Rosen, Lissa Schneckenburger, Mark Roberts, Stefan Amidon
    • Callers Sue Rosen, Bruce Hamilton, Merri Rudd
  • 2007
  • 2006
    • Hold the Mustard – Barbara Greenberg, Daniel Beerbohm, Kathy Talvitie, Paul Prestopino
    • Tricky Brits – Sande Gillette, Dave Bartley, Anita Anderson, Betsy Cooper
    • Callers Brad Foster, Susan Taylor
  • 2005
    • Flapjack – Jay Edmunds, Karen Taylor, Sam Allison, Tony Mason
    • Airdance – Rodney Miller, Mary Cay Brass, Stuart Kenney, David Surette, Sam Zucchini
    • Callers Beth MolaroRick Mohr
  • 2004
    • The Groovemongers – C. W. Abbott, Jane Knoeck, Rebecca McCallum, Mark Hellenberg
    • The Rhythm Rollers.- Bob McQuillen, Cathie Whitesides and Laurie Andres
    • Callers Kathy Anderson, David Millstone
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