A Blue Lake History

1910 - 1963 Camp Hardy, a Chicago camp for boys, operates on the site later to become the home of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.

1922 The Arens Art Colony begins serving gifted young artists in Door County, Wisconsin. Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp president, Fritz Stansell spends his summers there with his grandfather, Ludolph Arens, until the Art Colony closes in 1948.

1963 Blue Lake’s founder, Fritz Stansell, with the help of family and friends, begins taking the first steps to form Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, a non-profit summer school of the arts, modeled after his grandfather’s Art Colony.

1966 Blue Lake opens on July 5 when 56 campers arrive. A total of 280 campers attend this first season to study music, art, and dance.

1970 Blue Lake’s International Exchange Program begins by sending 90 young arts ambassadors to tour western Europe on its first goodwill cultural exchange.

1972 The first foreign group, Koor Vagantes Morborum from Brugges, Belgium, tours Michigan as part of Blue Lake’s International Exchange Program.

1982 Blue Lake Public Radio goes on the air and camper enrollment for the summer passes 4,000.

1991 Students from 72 of Michigan’s 83 counties, twenty-two states and eleven foreign countries attend Blue Lake’s 25th Anniversary Season.

1995 In its 30th season, Blue Lake offers more than 175 performances to public and camper audiences in the William Stewart Memorial Music Shell.

2000 Blue Lake completes Marek Hall North, the largest facility on campus, to include a dining area for 1,500, a storm shelter, the Blodgett Recital Hall, exhibit space, and more than 40 rehearsal rooms.

2004 Blue Lake’s enrollment tops 5,000 students for the first time.

2006 Blue Lake constructs a 750 seat, air-conditioned theater located in Camp Gershwin. Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp commissioned and performed the new opera, The Last Leaf, by Blue Lake Vice President and well-known Michigan Composer Dr. James Niblock.

2010 Blue Lake constructs a replica of an Elizabethan Theater, “The Rose,” making possible a new program for the study of the works of William Shakespeare in an inspiring setting.

In 2015, Blue Lake continues to offer dozens of educational fine arts programs for all ages, as well as a wide variety of performances during the Blue Lake Summer Arts Festival. The first campers arrived at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp on July 5th, 1966. Since that time, more than 300,000 gifted students have taken part in our varied arts programs. Whether you plan to join us at camp, tune in to Blue Lake Public Radio, or just stop by for a concert in the woods, we hope that you will enjoy the many offerings of our new season.