Camp Esquagama History

Camp Esquagama proudly celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2010. What began as a 4-H Camp has broadened into a summer camp experience for all youth throughout the state of Minnesota and surrounding regions. As stories of Camp Esquagama have been passed down through generations of camp alumni, campers from around the country continue to reminiscence about their unforgettable summer at Camp Esquagama and continue to keep our history alive.

Honoring our history:

Won in competition with nearly 300 counties in 29 states, the St. Louis County 4-H camp lodge, stands as a lasting memorial to the more than 3,400 4-H Club boys and girls, their leaders and their sponsoring organization, who in 1934 claimed the $10,000 National 4-H County Progress Prize offered by Sears, Roebuck, and Company, which made possible our main lodge now worth over $2 million.

The list of private and public organizations that helped make the building and site in its present state possible must include: the Oliver Mining Company, which donated logs; the George E. Siegel Corporation, which added to the site; the C.C.C. officials whose man power cut logs; the State Emergency Relief Administration and Works Progress Administration for liberal allowances for labor. Credit, too, must be given to the nearby communities of Biwabik, Gilbert, Virginia, and Aurora, who have, in many ways and at many times, helped in one way or another to clear the path toward final goals in the planning, building, and improving of the office and site.

Recent history:

Restoration efforts began in 2013 bringing the facilities and programming into the 21st century while staying true to its roots.  Day Camp has expanded from a single week each summer to a full thriving weekly program where many younger youths enjoy swimming in the lake and walking the nature trail each day.  Our traditional overnight program has blossomed from averaging 20 youth per week in 2014 to 60+ since 2018.  The campers have seen new activity areas added such as an indoor climbing wall, a barn yard area where they get to interact with animals, as well as new camp classics such as Gaga Ball and 9-Square.  Our Adventure Program was newly established in 2014 where our youth can practice the camp crafts and canoe down the Embarrass River.

The main lodge has seen the majority of the renovation efforts including a new roof, remodeled industrial kitchen, new offices, restored wood floors, renovated bathrooms, new dining hall tables and benches, restoration to the exterior logs, and circulating heating and cooling as it serves as a winter retreat lodge for community groups.  Other campground updates include a renovated shower house, archery shooting pavilion, new sports field game equipment, renovated pontoon, new canoe and kayak rack, an indoor climbing wall, a camper operated morning radio program, small hobby farm, a hammock city in the woods, 5 new camper cabins, 8 new campsites on the nature trail, and a new sauna!  Many thanks go to local volunteer groups as well as the hard work of numerous AmeriCorps NCCC teams.




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