Photo of Young Life's Washington Family Ranch
Photo of Young Life's Washington Family Ranch
Photo of Young Life's Washington Family Ranch
Photo of Young Life's Washington Family Ranch
Photo of Young Life's Washington Family Ranch
Photo of Young Life's Washington Family Ranch

Young Life's Washington Family Ranch

The Ultimate Camp Experience

Young Life’s Washington Family Ranch, nestled in a high desert valley in Central Oregon, seeks to give youth campers the best week of their lives. Combining exposed heavy timber with concealed modern building systems, the ranch's two camps, Creekside and Canyon, express a traditional aesthetic with surprising modern advantages. Designing a 100,000 sq. ft. ensemble of multi-use buildings in Oregon’s remote high desert means designing for sustainability. Campers start their days in the cabins before moving to the grand dining hall. At the activity center, kids play basketball, volleyball and soccer, challenge friends to miniature golf, or pull on a harness for the adventure ropes course. In the afternoon, they hit the towering water park, where five slides drop them into outdoor pools from the head of an active mine shaft. Since we first began work here over a decade ago, the two camps—Creekside for teens and Canyon for middle schoolers—have hosted up to 800 campers per week, every summer. And the sunsets still take our breath away.

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Antelope, Oregon
COMPLETED IN 2019
  • 600 beds
  • 2 stories
  • 133,879 sq. ft.
MARKET

Community

DISCIPLINES

Architecture , Interiors , Brand

PROJECT TYPE

Mission-Driven

PROJECT CONTACT

Architecture: Michael Bonn

Interiors: Kristie Van Boxtel

Brand: Sara Van Dyke

community@ankrommoisan.com


Architecture Story

Modern-Day Old West

Young Life Washington Family Ranch rises from a starkly beautiful high desert landscape in Central Oregon. Resembling an authentic old mining town built around a central town square, our master plan for its Creekside camp accommodates 350 middle school kids at a time. The larger Canyon camp, radiating out from a large outdoor amphitheater, reflects an Old West Ranch theme. The showpiece Ranch House has a high-end, resort aesthetic while keeping a warm and homey feel. Natural wood and timber were the basis of our design aesthetic for Creekside Camp; we conducted extensive research to design each building, from smaller-scale camper cabins to the 500-person dining hall, as traditionally as possible. The clear span heavy timber truss roof over the dining hall combines steel and lumber, staying true to the old mine design. Creekside comprises five cabin-style dormitories, an activity center, four buildings for staff housing, a dining hall, a commercial kitchen, an auditorium, and a dynamic water park ring in the central square. Canyon Camp echoes archetypal buildings of an early 1900s ranch: a barn, a ranch house, and a doctor’s office. At its heart sits around an outdoor amphitheater, where campers and staff gather for storytelling and other group activities. Because Canyon Camp is so vast—nearly five times the size of Creekside—we wanted to create a central space to create a warm camp feel and bring campers together. The Ranch House, which features the camp store, the healthcare center, and offices for the staff, uses stone quarried from the property to complete the Western homesteader theme. Both camps, Creekside and Canyon, anchor their design around traditional construction with sustainable features. For example, a central utility plant efficiently shares energy resources: To cool the buildings, excess heat is pulled out of the facilities and pumped through a campus loop, which then heats large outdoor pools and domestic hot water. Despite the high desert climate and remote location, we created two resilient camps that are comfortable and energy efficient all year-round.

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Interior Story

Rustically Refined

The two camps of Young Life Washington Family Ranch, Creekside and Canyon, both reflect design aesthetics based on the Old West. All the buildings use exposed heavy lumber, which provides a rustic exterior and conceals modern building systems. The smaller Creekside camp resembles an authentic old mining town built around a central town square and accommodates 350 middle school kids at a time. Traditional wood designs support the aesthetic for Creekside Camp, from smaller-scale camper cabins to the 500-person dining hall. The larger Canyon camp echoes archetypal buildings of an early 1900s ranch: a barn, a ranch house, and a doctor’s office. The showpiece Ranch House, which features the camp store, the healthcare center, and offices for the staff, uses clean, crisp exposed steel to maintain a high-end resort aesthetic with a warm and homey feel. A camper’s day starts in their cabin and moves to the grand “Muddy Station” dining hall built with rustic heavy timber and steel trusses, corrugated galvanized walls, and wood wainscoting. At the activity center, campers play basketball, volleyball and soccer, challenge friends to miniature golf, scale the climbing wall, or strap on a harness for the adventure ropes course. In the afternoon, campers hit the towering water park where five slides drop them from the head of an active “mine” shaft. The archetypal soda shop serves up cold drinks and ice cream alongside the classic general store. The “Bonanza” meeting hall hosts songs and skits on a full stage complete with theatrical lighting, a booming sound system, and video projection. Additional amenities include an infirmary, meeting spaces, outdoor amphitheater, spray park, sand volleyball, disk golf, and camp offices. By using industrial materials and adding unique touches, such as pipes for railings and heavy steel fasteners, we crafted a more refined mining camp while designing with durability in mind. Each building employs color, materials, and detailing to stand out but also connect to the overall theme. One particularly nice touch: pickaxes for door handles. Because kids need plenty of fuel for their summer stay, we designed a high-quality commercial kitchen to keep them nourished and ready for activity. The lights in the kitchen dim according to ambient light pouring in from the skylights, which adds to energy efficiency.

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Brand Story

A Campus Bound Together

In 2014, Young Life needed investors to join their effort to expand the existing Canyon camp into a 3-camp master plan. We designed a set of custom books to translate their vision for the campus expansion. By allowing investors and stakeholders to see and physically interact with the craftsmanship and rugged character of the proposed design, we helped secure the investment needed for the expansion. To create books bound in locally-crafted leather, we commissioned and worked alongside a master saddle maker from the nearby town of Antelope. Inside, the post-bound master plan unfolds across specially art-quality paper, hand-cut tabs, and hand-drawn illustrations for each chapter. Finishing touches of custom debossing patterns and metal buckles further convey the Western spirit of the campus. Over the last several years, the camp has successfully expanded according to our master plan. Along the way, our Brand team has infused craftsmanship-style signage throughout the campus. Like the book design, each sign is specified with durable materials that will stand the test of time in the desert heat and cold. From the ranch’s early beginnings, to its thriving present, our Brand work has bound together the memorable character and Old-West vision of the unforgettable desert destination.

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