History

Join the Celebration in '22!

After 54 years of committed service, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp’s Founder and President Emeritus Fritz Stansell fully retired in June of 2020. The Blue Lake Board of Trustees dedicates the 2022 Season to Fritz Stansell and his life’s work. View the special tribute and share your Blue Lake memories with us!

Camp Hardy

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

1910 - 1963

The Arens Art Colony

The Arens Art Colony begins serving young artists in Door County, Wisconsin. Fritz Stansell, Blue Lake’s President Emeritus, spends his summers there in his youth, with his grandfather, professor of music and composer Ludolph Arens, until the Art Colony closes in 1948.

1922

First Steps

Blue Lake’s founder, Fritz Stansell, with the help of family and friends, takes 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. 

1963

Blue Lake Opens

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.

1966

International Program Begins

Blue Lake’s International Exchange Program, founded by Gretchen Stansell, begins by sending 90 young arts ambassadors to tour Western Europe on its first goodwill cultural exchange.

1970

The First European Group

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

1972

Blue Lake Public Radio

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

1982

25th Anniversary

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

1991

175+ Performances

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

1995

Marek Hall North

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

2000

5,000+ Students Enrolled

Blue Lake’s enrollment tops 5,000 students for the first time in its history.

2004

New Theater

Blue Lake constructs a 750 seat, air-conditioned proscenium theater located in Camp Gershwin. To celebrate the opening, the camp commissions and performs a new opera, The Last Leaf, by then Blue Lake Vice President and well-known Michigan Composer Dr. James Niblock.

2006

"The Rose" Replica

Blue Lake constructs a 750 seat replica of an Elizabethan Theater, “The Rose,” making possible a new program for the study of the works of William Shakespeare in an inspiring one-of-a-kind setting.

2010

50th Anniversary

Blue Lake celebrates its 50th summer of operation! Since the first summer, more than 400,000 students have taken part in our varied arts programs. ​

2016

Worldwide Pandemic

Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and Blue Lake International Exchange Program suffer a full year of cancelation as the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic impacts the world.

2020

Blue Lake Today

From humble beginnings of the Arens Art Colony to Blue Lake’s present operation, we celebrate 100 years of vision in Arts Education within the Arens/Stansell family, bridging generations of young artists throughout the world.

1922-2022
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