the Foundations of

For more than 50 years, We've used wilderness experiences as a vehicle to inspire self discovery, growth, and a shared sense of purpose amongst our campers using the four foundations our founders, Jim and Nancy Bredemus, started with. 


Life Skills

Role Models

Respect for the Wilderness


"The Web of Friendship" was a phrase founder, Jim Bredemus, used frequently to describe the connected nature of the community we create here at Birchwood. It's a special kind of connection because of our size!

The size of Birchwood Wilderness Camp is one of the
differences you will find with us. Most sports and private camps are very large in comparison. We only accept 35 to 45 campers per session and we have a one to three campers-to-counselor ratio.  This means we know every camper on a deeper level than camps with 300 campers and it also means the campers know each other more deeply.

We keep our enrollment small by design so we can focus on the things we value most: community and a sense of shared purpose.

Life Skills

There is nothing better than hearing a young camper say, “I did that!”

The majority of our campers arrive with little to no outdoor experience. Kids as young as 7 years old can become quite proficient in several areas and the opportunity for growth and development is endless.

Some experiences offer kids the opportunity to go outside of their comfort zone and take safe risks. Often people are most proud of the accomplishments that they thought were unobtainable. When a camper reaches the top of a rock face and says, “I didn’t think I could do that,” but they just did...priceless!

On the trail is where most of our young men shine. There is nothing quite like planning a 3-5-day canoe trip, making a menu, packing out and heading down the river into the forest. A canoe trip into the BWCA can be a life changing experience. Setting up your tent, making camp, laying out your sleeping bag, building a fire, cooking your food outside are wonderful experiences that kindle your soul. Enduring rain, wind and sore muscles are part of the experience too. More than once, campers come off the trail and report what a great trip they had.

When asked if they got wet the answer is sometimes, “yeah, we got wet. I fell in the mud too but we caught more fish than we could eat, it was the best trip ever.” That kid walks a little taller and has developed both soft and hard skills he will have the rest of his life.

Role Models

The people that work, guide, teach and care for each
camper are our most valued asset. We spend a great deal of our time in the off-season searching for a select handful of staff with the right qualifications, skills and temperament to work safely with young kids in this beautiful outdoor environment.

We look for university students and young teachers with a priority to work with kids and possess an expertise in one or more of the skills we teach at camp. We never lose sight that each person is here for their own camp experience and it is our job every day to provide it in a safe, rewarding, growing way.

We live by the motto, “They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Respect for the Wilderness

The newest addition to our foundation is to help kids to
become aware of the outdoor world and our

Here at Birchwood, we live by the Leave No Trace (LNT) principles. Our staff lead by example and teach each camper why we practice LNT. 

It's our feeling that if kids develop an awareness and appreciation for the forest, the water and the wildlife within, they may see the rest of the world in a different way.

Before you go any further...

Meet the Owners

Press play to hear our origin story and mission from owners, Dan and Ashley Bredemus.

Meet the Directors

Dan Bredemus

Victor Pilon

Ashley Bredemus

Years at Camp:  66
Hometown: Grand Marais, MN
Degree: Masters in Education, Bemidji State
Previous Occupation: 31 years as a high school shop teacher
Hobbies: Canoeing, skiing, sailing, and building
Biggest Adventure:  A 500+ mile hike across Spain
If he could live anywhere: The Seagull River (where he lives now)
Best outdoor skill:  Respecting the wilderness and love for all animals

Years at Camp:  16
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MN
Degree: Mechanical Engineering, UW Madison
Previous Occupation: 5 years as an engineer in Alabama and Florida
Hobbies: Photography. writing, canoeing, skiing, and sailing
Biggest Adventure:  Climbing the Grand Teton 
If she could live anywhere: The Pepper Shack (where she lives now)
Best outdoor skill:  Tying knots and building fires

Years at Camp:  7
Hometown: Duluth, MN
Degree: Outdoor & Environmental Education, University of Minnesota - Duluth
Previous Occupation:  Program Director at Camp
Hobbies: Fishing, teaching, and skiing
Biggest Adventure:   Backpacking through the Badlands 
If he could live anywhere: A cabin beside a small but well-populated trout lake 
Best outdoor skill:  Bird calls and getting fish off the hook

join the tribe

Yipee! You're in!

Instagram is our hang out spot.


12586 Gunflint Trail, Slip 85, Grand Marais, MN 55604 | (218) 256-7164