More Than Just a Summer Camp
Camp Paxson sits on the shores of Seeley Lake, one of a chain of five lakes nestled between the Swan Mountain Range and the Mission Mountain Range in Western Montana. It is a 15-acre peninsula of land that Salish, Blackfeet, and Crow tribes cared for, hunted, and fished for centuries prior to European colonization and we recognize their time-honored traditions and connections rooted in the earth. While the history of the land reaches centuries back, the buildings on this Forest Service landmark are just 80 years old. Camp Paxson originally consisted of a tent camp with six small frame structures. By the 1930s, a larger facility was needed. The Depression-era Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps began building the current facility in 1939, and the bathhouses and cabins were completed in 1940. Because of its unique architecture and as an example of the contributions of the WPA and CCC during the Depression years, Camp Paxson was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The camp was originally used by a variety of groups including the Boy Scouts and the Forest Service for their Smokejumper training housing. Camp Paxson is a Lolo National Forest Service site administered by the Camp Paxson Preservation Project, a non-profit organization that operates with the mission to preserve and improve historic Camp Paxson and to advance the public’s appreciation of this cultural and natural resource both locally and regionally through expanded appropriate use. The facility is used by schools, churches, weddings, family reunions, and other gatherings of large groups.
Camp Paxson is a place rich in history, cared for by regional tribes for over 9000 years, and in the last 100 years serving those who wish to recreate in the amazing environment that it offers. The Camp Paxson Preservation Project encourages all of our tenants to take a dive with us into the history of this land to develop a deep appreciation and sense of stewardship to this natural legacy.
Indigenous Land Acknowledgment
“You are here because you are interested.”
Those are the words Salish elder, cultural leader, and tribal historian Louis Adams spoke in 2013. YOU are here because you are interested. You are interested in Camp Paxson, a place that is rich in history and is so much more than just a summer camp. We acknowledge that and therefore we have a responsibility to provide you with content built upon the significant, time-honored traditions and local knowledge of the people who lived on, learned from and listened to these lands for thousands of years before us. We appreciate this space. We are grateful for the Indigenous communities who inhabited this place. It is our duty to rebuild respectful and reciprocal relationships within these colonized lands. We accept that this work is ongoing and evolving and may change as we continue to incorporate Native voices. It is our intent that this recognition goes beyond increasing cultural awareness to supporting one another in nurturing our shared environments.
For more information, check out the following resources: