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Every summer for 62 years young people from all over Minnesota and many other states have gathered on the campus of Bemidji State University, on the beautiful shores of Lake Bemidji, for a week of new and renewed friendships, outdoor activities and participation in the Bemidji State University MusiCamp, one of the longest running music camps in the United States. Founded in 1948 the camp has become a significant resource for young aspiring musicians and their band directors, and is one of the longest running music camps in the United States.

By Spring 1948, World War II had been over almost three years. BSTC (Bemidji State Teachers College), “The Friendly College,” nestled among the pines and birches along the shores of beautiful Lake Bemidji, was operating at full capacity and bustling with activity due to the influx of veterans. The campus, which was small, consisted of the administration building, the gymnasium, Sanford Hall, and the new library wing. Plans for the laboratory school were in the offing and Birch Hall was on the drawing boards.

Dr. Charles Sattgast was again at the helm of the institution after serving in the United States Army during the war years. Carl O. Thompson was the head of the fine arts department and Maurice Callahan was instrumental music director. Callahan came to BSTC on January 20, 1948, from the Teachers College, Columbia University where he had been working on his Doctoral degree in music education. By the end of the first term, plans were finalized for a summer band clinic with guest conductor Dr. Frank Simon of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Simon was one of the leading directors in the country and had been cornet soloist and assistant conductor of John Phillip Sousa’s Band.

On June 11, 1948, 1917 pieces of publicity for the first camp were sent out. There was no advance registration and no fees were charged. Financial assistance was given by many Bemidji businesses and fraternal organizations. So it was to be that through the combined efforts of Maurice Callahan, college administration and the civic leaders of the city of Bemidji, the first Bemidji State College Music Clinic was held the week of August 9-13, 1948. It was known as the “BSTC Band Clinic and Conference”. 97 high school and college students attended the first camp. At the close, Simon predicted that it would grow to be one of the best music camps in the nation. Grow it did! From 100 participants to 1300: one week to two; from just band to all facets of music (band, orchestra, choir, and piano). 62 years later, the faculty and staff at Bemidji State University remain committed to the legacy of the Bemidji State University Summer Music Camp.