Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp

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Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp
BLIB Stage81.png
International Blue Lake group on stage in Germany
Genre Classical and contemporary
Location(s) Twin Lake, Michigan
Years active 1966 - present
Founded by Fritz & Gretchen Stansell

Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp is a Michigan nonprofit organization located in the Manistee National Forest that provides summer fine arts camp and international exchange programs in music, art, dance, and drama.

The Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp was founded as a non-profit organization in 1966 by the Stansell family, who remain the multi-generational proprietors of the institution.[1] The camp is located on approximately 1200 acres in the Manistee National Forest in Michigan. It can host 4500 [2] 5th through 12th grade students across several 12-day sessions each summer.[3] It operates FM radio stations[4] locally and in Grand Rapids that are National Public Radio affiliates.[5] For Central campers, several options for fine arts are offered, including theater, band, choir, art, dance, and many others.

Blue Lake also offers adult camp programs. Rather than the rustic cabins of the camp, adult musicians find accommodation at local hotels.[6] Like the youth programs, adult campers take part in daily instruction on their instrument as well as ensemble rehearsals. Access to the camp’s recreational, elective instructional, and regular concert programs is available to all ages as well.[7]

The youth camps are informative and offer amazing instruction in the arts while maintaining a summer camp environment.

International Exchange[edit]

Blue Lake Students and Staff join with a town band in the Bavarian Alpine foothills.

Blue Lake hosts international exchange students in the arts as well as organizing several ensembles of American students to travel to Europe and perform each year. These ensembles include, but are not limited to, concert band, jazz band, orchestra, and choir.[2][8] These exchanges serve to expose students to other cultures and have been cited as “outstanding representatives of the United States”.[9] The camp has also initiated such experiments in multi-cultural cooperation as the Blue Lake in Bavaria concert band which was formed out of a mixture of American and European junior and senior high school students to rehearse and perform together over the course of a month.[10] There is a meeting held every session of summer camp to notify campers of the International exchange. All campers are required to attend, despite there being a lack of an art or theatre program.[11]

Leonard Falcone[edit]

Prior to the founding of Blue Lake, Leonard Falcone, baritone virtuoso and Director of Bands at Michigan State University, had conducted many Youth Music at Michigan State summer camps in conjunction with, and support of, the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association.[12][13] At the urging of Fritz Stansell, Falcone shifted his focus to aiding the program at Blue Lake and became a regular staff member/artist in residence.[14] Falcone would be joined later by other notables of the music education and concert band world, such as composers John Barnes Chance and Václav Nelhýbel.[15]

Following Falcone’s death in 1985, Blue Lake became home to the new Leonard Falcone International Tuba and Euphonium Festival and competition created by his students in his memory and held at Blue Lake every year. This has become a significant annual event in the international tuba and euphonium community and is the leading American venue for these instruments.[16]


There are four sessions per summer at BLFAC (Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp), sessions one and two being for high schoolers and sessions three and four reserved for junior high. All four offer all programs. Bernstein, a separate, but connected camp for younger campers (5th and 6th grade) is also available all four sessions, though it does not offer all programs.[17]

The Art Program[edit]

Art is one of the programs offered by BLFAC. The program has focuses on sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, drawing and painting, and fibre arts. When campers arrive, they start the camp off with a meeting in which they will receive class assignments and practice instructions for an all-camper (in the art program) project that will be completed on Middle Sunday. Students are provided with all supplies required for camp. Notable events in the art program include the Middle Sunday project, in which campers complete the assignment they had been given at the beginning of camp, the Concert Drawing, in which campers are permitted to bring their sketchbook and drawing utensils into the shell to draw during a concert, and the Dancer Drawings, in which students focus on gesture drawings while dancers model.

Individuality and creativity are highly encouraged, though manga style art and symbols such as anatomically incorrect hearts are discouraged. The art program is full of freedom and community. [18]

See also[edit]

The Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp Website at

Wikipedia page Leonard Falcone International Tuba and Euphonium Festival

The website of the International Tuba Euphonium Association (formerly T.U.B.A.) at

The Falcone Festival website at

Solid Brass: The Leonard Falcone Story (by Rita Griffin Comstock) at


  1. ^ Journal of the Senate of the State of Michigan, 1991 p.1414, Senate Resolution 253 of 1990
  2. ^ a b Internationalidssmf Association for Jazz Education, Jazz Education Journal, 2001, NPN
  3. ^ Instrumentalist Magazine, Volume 57, 2003, NPN
  4. ^ Bidgoli, Hossein, The Internet Encyclopedia, Volume 2, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken NJ, 2004, P.677
  5. ^ Blue Lake website,
  6. ^ Rapoport, Katharine, Violin for dummies, John Wiley & Sons Ltd., Canada / Consumer Dummies, 2010
  7. ^ Strings Magazine, volume 3, String Letter Corp, 1988, P.57
  8. ^ Journal of the Senate of the State of Michigan 1979, pp1341-44
  9. ^ Senate Resolution 621 of 1979, Journal of the Massachusetts Senate, Volume 2, 1979, p.1734
  10. ^ Blue Lake in Bavaria International Exchange Program(brochure), Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, 1981
  11. ^ Personal experience as a camper
  12. ^ Wikipedia page and associated sources, Leonard Falcone
  13. ^ The Falcone Papers, collection of the Michigan State University Archives, East Lansing, MI
  14. ^ Stansell, Fritz, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, the Early Years, RDR Books, Muskegon, MI, 2007, p. 211
  15. ^ Stansell, Fritz, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, the Early Years, RDR Books, Muskegon, MI, 2007, P.101
  16. ^ Wikipedia page and associated sources, Leonard Falcone International Tuba and Euphonium Festival
  17. ^ 2 years at BLFAC
  18. ^ 2 years at BLFAC