Our History

Trapper Cabin

The original Trapper Cabin, the first building at Birchwood Camp, is still in use today.

Birchwood Camp was purchased in 1958 by what is now known as the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. The land includes 160 acres, part of which is a 30 acre lake. The only building was the Trapper Cabin (which is still in use today). There was no road to the property, only jeep trails. Summer camps were first held in 1961. Campers and counselors slept in family groups in platform tents and the food was prepared in the Trapper cabin. Gradually 18 buildings have been built, mostly with volunteer labor, and the camp is fully accessible and modernized for year round use. The camp now operates under a Board Directors as an extension ministry of the Alaska United Methodist Conference.


Original Dining Hall

The Original Dining Hall at Camp

1958: Birchwood Camp was purchased by the national mission division of the UMC

1961: First summer camps held at campsite

1974: First major development of the camp completed with the building of a road, lodge, sleeping cabins and staff housing. The camp is opened year round for use by church and community groups

1992: The camp hires a commissioned missionary to serve as the first full-time director-manager

1997: Birchwood Camp becomes fully accredited by the American Camping Association after this summer’s visit-meeting the industry standard for safety and care

1998: A record 26 campers from the Athabascan villages of Anvik and Grayling come to summer camp

One of the challenge course elements at Birchwood Camp

One of the challenge course elements at Birchwood Camp

2001: Camp board of directors, staff, and Kaleidoscope consulting firm complete ambitious master plan encompassing a new vision, expanded program, and increased facilities

2004: Construction of community challenge course, an important new program offering for campers and guests in building community and team work, is completed

2007: A Native American style lodge that will be used for ceremonial sweats of Native American peoples, to educate others about Native American spirituality and as a place of prayer in general is completed

Fireweed Hall, the newest building at Birchwood Camp

Fireweed Hall, the newest building at Birchwood Camp

2009: Birchwood Camp breaks ground on a new multi-purpose meeting cabin that will help address the growing need for additional program space. By the end of the year the exterior shell of the log building and the full basement were completed, including the roof. For the first time, Birchwood Camp hires two full time, year-round employees, to provide support and leadership as the camp grows.

2011: Birchwood Camp celebrates 50 Years of Summer Camping programs. The new meeting cabin, Fireweed Hall, is dedicated for use.