For Gabe Haynes, her partner and their three kids, a trip to the Sou’wester Historic Lodge & Vintage Travel Trailer Resort in Seaview, Washington, was the perfect getaway. They could stay in a one-of-a-kind vintage trailer a few blocks from the beach, and the kids could take advantage of a three-day afternoon upcycling fashion workshop taught by a visiting artist-designer, one of the new creative outlets for kids offered by the Sou’wester.
The family had stayed at the resort before, explains Haynes, who is a 37-year-old emergency room nurse in Portland, Oregon, and is also working on a master’s degree.
Low-key? This is it!
“We’re scrappy, low-key outdoors people,” Haynes says. “Not so much hotel-right-next-to-the-beach-kind-of-people. We really love the Sou’wester.”
She recites the names of the various vintage trailers they’ve stayed in on one visit or another, with every trailer and its decor unique. This time their kids slept in the “Rocket,” a renovated late 60s Silver Streak Continental Rocket Supreme with three beds, and right next door, the couple shared the Kenskill, another late 60s trailer model. It had a white exterior, interior wood paneling and an eating nook roomy enough for all of them.
They could make their meals in the fully stocked outdoor kitchen and explore the other features of the resort: a Red Bus Theatre; an art gallery trailer with quarterly exhibitions; a teahouse trailer; a yoga and meditation trailer; and a trailer of secondhand clothing, handbags, shoes, and other accessories and knick-knacks to purchase. Besides the trailers, there’s also the Work Lounge, Meditation Garden, Garden Spa and Finnish Sauna, and Geodesic Dome.
Surprises to be found
“It’s magic,” she says of the Sou’wester. “Whimsical and low-key is what I like about it more than anything. It’s full of small, delightful surprises.”
On weekends, there is live music, and on Saturdays, a creative workshop for adults and families.
“The Sou’wester is a hub for artists,” explains Ally Bruser, a former elementary school teacher from Seattle who coordinates Sou’wester’s artist-led workshops for youth, adults and families. She’s talking about the artist residents, about the families who stay at the Sou’wester who enjoy art or make art themselves, and about all the different activities that make the resort an artist’s playground and a catalyst for creativity.
Pandemic spurs youth program
Originally, the teaching artists just taught the Saturday workshops. Then in fall of 2020, as the pandemic dragged on, Sou’wester started a Youth After-School Program, and it soon grew to welcome local and visiting youth, ages 7 and up. This summer, Sou’wester is partnering with a local nonprofit to offer a rotating series of creative workshops as part of a weekly summer camp.
The relatively new youth programs build on what Sou’wester does so well — connecting the community to teaching artists who come regularly to the Sou’wester on a paid residency to share their skills.
An affordable summer camp
The summer camp supports families in the area, says Bruser, and it’s open to visiting kids too. At $75 a week, with transportation and scholarships available, it’s a deal. Many parents in the area work in the service industry, says Bruser, and that’s why it’s important during peak tourist time to offer a summer camp for kids. And because kids have also struggled during the pandemic, providing them an avenue to their own artistic expression, and giving them access to working artists is critical too, says Bruser. The arts can be a vehicle for personal and social transformation.
The youth-focused arts workshops are often connected to larger themes like identity, nature and ecology. Behind the upcycling fashion workshop was the idea that we can reduce our consumption by reclaiming used materials, explains artist-designer, Ophir El-Boher, who is originally from Israel and now based in Eugene, Oregon. She wanted the kids in her workshop to see that throw-away materials still had potential. She asked them to bring in old clothing that they didn’t want and make something new.
Creativity they can wear
While her partner’s 13-year-old daughter didn’t end up attending the workshop, Haynes’ 11-year-old son, Sequoia, made a tiny fez and turned a pair of pants into a wizard tunic, and her 7-year-old daughter, Juniper, made a shirt from an old summer reading program T-shirt and purple, crushed velvet fabric.
“She would wear it every day if I would let her,” Haynes said.
And so the takeaway from the artist workshop has lasted long after the Seaview getaway.
Planning a visit
Check into one of the more than 30 renovated vintage travel trailers, cabins or lodge rooms at the Sou’wester Historic Lodge & Vintage Travel Trailer Resort located in Seaview, Washington. For more information, visit the Sou’wester website, email Souwesterlodge@gmail.com, or call (360) 642-2542.
Get arty. Get arty. Summer art workshops for youth in 3rd to 8th grade are Tuesday through Thursday, from 10 to 3 p.m., with new themes each week: June 27-29; July 11-13; and July 25-27. Saturday art workshops are also offered during the summer and school year.