Life at Blue Lake

Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp strives to maintain an atmosphere where students who want to learn may do so in an environment which encourages creativity and recognizes the importance of the individual. Students are accepted at whatever their proficiency level may be and are encouraged to grow. Faculty and staff strive to motivate campers and share with them the joy of achievement in the fine arts. Enthusiasm is contagious at Blue Lake as campers discover, learn, experience, and succeed.

Programs at Blue Lake are designed to educate through a carefully developed and balanced curriculum. Minor courses in art, drama, dance, or music are also offered. Organized recreation, practice time, recitals, master classes, evening activities, and regular attendance at performances complete the camp experience.

Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp draws its inspirationfrom the Arens Art Colony that was located in Door County, Wisconsin, and founded in 1922 by Ludolph Arens. Arens, who served as a piano professor at the Lawrence Conservatory and conductor of the Green Bay Symphony, was the grandfather of Blue Lake’s founder and president, Fritz Stansell. The Arens Art Colony may have been the first summer camp in America dedicated to the idea that an arts school in a secluded, natural setting can shelter gifted young people from the influences of the outside world and allow them to study with concentrated effort.

The spirit of the Arens Art Colony continues to flourish at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. The fundamental mission to motivate students to pursue their art with new enthusiasm continues to drive those who have worked to make Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp what it is today.

Campers begin their day at approximately 6:30am by getting up and ready for breakfast. Mornings are filled with classes and rehearsals. After lunch, students participate in a Minor course of their choice, or have individual practice or rest time. Afternoon classes and rehearsals end at 3:50pm, leaving plenty of time for recreation, rest, and time with friends. After dinner, evening activities conclude each day with arts performances or camp fun. Unit Directors call lights out with Taps.

Cool Summer Nights
Dances, all-camp sings, talent shows, theater, carnivals, concerts, recitals, opera, ballet, master classes, pizza parties, unit activities, camp fires... Students experience a wide range of exciting activities while at Blue Lake.

During free time in the afternoon, students are encouraged to participate in recreational activities with other campers and staff, such as basketball, beach volleyball, swimming, soccer, kickball, frisbee golf, water polo, or touch football. Recreational activities are supervised by staff members, who often can’t help but join in the fun!

Time To Relax
On the middle Sunday of each Blue Lake session, students have the opportunity to sleep in, relax, and take advantage of a little morning free time. Blue Lake offers a non-denominational chapel service for those students wishing to attend. Morning instruction on this day includes specific department programs unique to the student’s chosen major, often consisting of interactive master classes, special topics, and casual faculty/staff recitals. Staff members offer a variety of structured recreation events prior to Sunday dinner and the scheduled evening activity.

Campers stay in bunk beds in a large, rustic, one room cabin with approximately ten new friends and one cabin counselor. Six cabins form a unit, which is supervised by a Unit Director. Rest room facilities, camp fire rings, picnic tables, clothes lines, recreation equipment, and refuse containers are located within each unit. Cabins are inspected for cleanliness each day by Unit Directors. The cleanest cabin of the unit receives a special honor on their last day at camp!

Your Cabin Counselor
Blue Lake’s counseling staff is comprised primarily of college students majoring in the arts and/or education. Of the 220 staff members, most are upperclassmen, some are graduate students, and many have been Blue Lake campers before. The counseling staff supervise campers throughout the day, including all meals, recreation, free-time, and evening activities. They also assist faculty with class preparation and plan group activities for students. All of our staff members strive 24 hours a day to make each camper’s experience at camp fun, safe, worthwhile, and memorable.

Who Else is Going to Camp?
In any one session at Blue Lake, you’ll be studying the arts along with 1,368 other campers. Students are housed according to age groups, so you will be placed in a cabin and unit with others at your approximate grade level. Blue Lake celebrates the diversity of the arts, and you’ll have the opportunity to meet many others with different interests and talents.

Care Packages
Dozens of bags of mail and parcels arrive daily for campers at Blue Lake. Please allow at least 4 business days for your letter to reach Blue Lake. Mail is delivered to campers on the same day it arrives on camp.

Blue Lake is located north of Muskegon, Michigan, in the Manistee National Forest and on the shore of Little Blue Lake. The Campus sits in the middle of 1,600 acres of preserved forest containing large white and red pine, oak, and maple trees. Students walk Canterbury Lane, Blue Lake’s main footpath, to reach classes throughout the campus. In all, Blue Lake maintains more than 300 rustic buildings, shelters, and cabins.

The Health Lodge
Blue Lake’s health lodge operates 24 hours a day and offers basic first-aid care and medication storage for campers. The camp nurses and qualified staff are available throughout the day and emergency care facilities are just minutes away.

Marek Hall
Campers eat meals with their cabin mates and share in the clean-up duties. Nutritious meals with vegetarian options are served by a professional food staff. Also available to campers is a salad bar containing fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and an assortment of salads and breads. Please go to Health and Medical Care for more information on dietary restrictions.

Camp Pride
Located in the Manistee National Forest, Blue Lake prides itself in maintaining a clean and natural setting for its students. All campers help to preserve its beauty by pitching in on Camp Sweeps, such as picking up litter or collecting fallen branches for a campfire. Cabins and units are assigned areas of the camp to help keep clean.

On the Air
The broadcast studios of Blue Lake Public Radio, WBLV 90.3 in Muskegon and WBLU 88.9 in Grand Rapids, are located on the campus of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.  Campers often have the opportunity to attend live broadcasts at William Stewart Memorial Music Shell.

The Instrument Museum
While at camp, many students will visit Blue Lake’s Museum to learn the history of their own instruments. You never know what sounds you’ll hear in the Museum–anything from a Didgeridoo to a Norwegian Hardanger Fiddle.

Blue Lake’s Camp Store
The "Happy Camper" located in Central Park, offers a wide assortment of refreshments as well as souvenirs, gifts, uniform items, and basic supplies. Recordings and photographs of camper ensembles are also available for purchase at the conclusion of your session. You can even buy your sweetheart a flower for the dance.

Blue Lake’s faculty members come from universities, colleges, professional ensembles, and private and public schools from around the country. They serve as motivators and role-models for the campers by teaching artistry, discipline, and appreciation of formal study. In addition to instructing small and large group classes, faculty members regularly demonstrate mastery of their craft through exhibition and performance in concert, master class, studio demonstration, and recital settings.

Central camp students audition on the first day of the session for placement in groups. Theater students should prepare a memorized one-minute monologue from standard theatrical repertoire. Music auditions consist of several major scales, a chromatic scale the full range of the instrument (strings excluded), sightreading, and possibly an excerpt of a prepared piece from home. You will receive more information following enrollment.

Outstanding Campers
Faculty and staff at Blue Lake consider all of our campers to be exceptional individuals. But during each session, every department and ensemble recognizes one camper who demonstrates outstanding leadership, citizenship, artistic accomplishments and progress, and enthusiasm throughout their camp experience. These campers receive a scholarship to return to Blue Lake the following summer.

Hey You in the Blue!

Blue Lakers, including all faculty, staff, and campers, wear the Blue Lake uniform. Go to camp Uniform, for specific details on uniform requirements.

Who Does My Wash?
Blue Lake’s counseling staff launders campers’ uniform items at least five times a session. Students are expected to wash their own underwear and socks by hand or bring enough to last the entire session.