Sonny Freitag, 85, was on his way home May 20 when he stopped his pickup near Norseland Camp’s entrance to read an anniversary banner spanning the road.
“I remember when they bought some land from a local farmer,” he mused.
Freitag has never had a problem living near a weekend mecca that draws hundreds of exuberant youths throughout the year.
“They don’t bother me,” said Freitag, a member of a family that moved to rural Norseland in 1946, two years before the scout camp was established.
Scout troops used the site before July 1947, when the executive board of Minnesota Valley Council authorized a committee to proceed with an option to purchase 80 acres from area landowners the Websters, Rasmusons, the Myrhas and Art Johnson along with a forfeited piece of tax-forfeited land.
Luther Youngdahl, then-governor of Minnesota, was guest speaker at a dinner in New Ulm Oct. 23, 1947, where the area Boy Scouts council’s plans for Norseland Scout Camp were announced.
Youngdahl told the 400 scouters at the event that their program was proving to the adult world that “living together in peace and friendship is practical and possible.”
The first official function at the new camp was on a June weekend in 1948. More than 2,500 scouts, scouters and guests had begun arriving on the 10th. Troops gathered around campfires and demonstrated their axemanship as well as archery and cooking skills.
Protestant and Catholic Sunday worship services were held at the campgrounds on the 12th. The Camp-o-ree’s highlight events, a dedication ceremony and a Court of Honor took place later that day.
By the end of 1948 several major projects, including a large dining hall, trails and roads, had been completed at the camp, which had been purchased for $22,300. Scouts had access to a new 240-foot-deep well and a pressure-water system, a heated lodge, 43 tents, 10 row boats and six canoes.
In 2019 the century-old international youth organization Boy Scouts of America changed its gender-based name to BSA and its membership expanded to include girls.
Several troops with female scouts have used Norseland’s recent Camp-o-ree as their training site.