Explore the history of Camp Foley in Minnesota
1924-1949: Father Foley’s Era
Father John P. Foley established and built Camp St. Thomas in 1924 and welcomed the first campers (boys) in the summer of 1925. During that summer there were a total of five buildings at camp. The name of the camp later changed to Father Foley’s Camp for Boys.
In the early years, Father Foley made a promise to the Blessed Virgin that if camp was successful he would build and dedicate a chapel. Camp was successful, so Our Lady of the Snows was built by Henry Ruud. Construction began in 1934 without blueprints and using field rock from the local area. The benches, still used today, are made of cypress wood from Florida and were soaked in the lake. Our Lady of the Snows celebrated its first Mass on August 5 (the feast day for Our Lady of the Snows) in 1937.
1949-1985: Bob and Vi’s Era
Bob Schmid, a former Foley camper and counselor, purchased the camp in 1949 from Father Foley. In 1949, he changed the name from Father Foley’s Camp for Boys to the camp’s current moniker, Camp Foley. Bob married his wife, Viola Fallon, in 1951 in the camp chapel. Vi often said, “I married a camp.” Bob and Vi had three children – Rob, Marie and Tom. They worked together until Bob’s death in 1973. Vi assumed the role as director until her death in 1985.
In Bob and Vi’s Era:
- In 1970 Camp Foley begins an Outdoor Education Program (Camp Foley is currently Minnesota’s second oldest Environmental Education Center)
- Girls come to Foley for the first time in 1974
1985-Present: Marie’s Era
Marie Schmid, the daughter of Bob and Vi, took over as director after Vi’s death in 1985 (after tackling almost every other role at camp). She has four children – Alli, Peter, Kylie and Kevin – all of whom have grown up around Foley. Marie manages almost every aspect of camp life and is a staple each summer in the Foley community.
Alli, Marie’s eldest daughter, has been a member of the Foley staff since 1999. In 2004, Alli began working at Foley full time and now serves as Director. As a third generation Foley Director, Alli manages the Foley waterfront program and staff, amongst other things.
During Marie’s Era:
- Cabins see some serious updating with new wooden bunks and shelves
- In the late 90s the large sailboats (C-Scows, X-Boats, etc.) are replaced 420s for Sail Racing
- Climbing Tower is built in the late 90s
- Old Dining Hall is torn down in 1999 and a new Dining Hall is built for summer 2000
- The Foley Fun Center is opened in 2004 with Human Foosball and the Barn
- Paintball comes to Foley in 2005 and let’s not forget the update to the Washos
- In 2011 the Rec Center is opened and the Maintenance Center is moved across the road (with Shop!)
- Osawaka is torn down in fall 2012 and rebuilt for summer 2013 with many improvements