The Beginning

The property is purchased by Elizabeth Speriestersbach

Story Book Lodge was founded by an exceptional teacher, and social worker by the name of Elizabeth Speriestersbach, born in 1897 in St. Paul, of German immigrants. Elizabeth moved up to the Iron Range to teach and work at a 4-H camp near Virginia, Minnesota. In 1929, a 45-acre plot on Cedar Island Lake was purchased by Elizabeth for $1,700 at a sheriff's sale. The land came with just one small 10’ by 12’ hunting shack. However, it had beautiful small red pine and birch trees, 1000 feet of lake shore, and four small islands.

With Elizabeth’s limited teacher’s salary, and the help of many unemployed workmen, cabins were built during the 1930s that represent story ideas; Three Bears, the Pumpkin, Bird House, Farm House, Den, an enlarged Lodge added around the original shack with a beautiful stone fireplace. All of these appealed to the people and “Story Book Lodge” became well known.

A new vision for Story Book Lodge: winning souls for Christ

In 1941, Elizabeth’s life changed, she heard the Gospel from some of her friends and at a Gospel tent meeting. She realized her bankruptcy as a sinner and came to trust the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. At age 44, she now had a new vision for her life: winning others to Christ. Elizabeth now wanted her lake property to be a means to that end.

The first camp director is appointed: Ben & Jean Tuininga

In 1948, Elizabeth prevailed upon Ben and Jean Tuininga to come for a one-week camp with boys and girls. There were eleven campers, Elizabeth was the cook, Jean was the lifeguard, counselor, handcrafter, and storyteller. Ben was camp director, counselor, and Bible teacher, and became known as “Uncle Ben”. No fees were charged. Several came to Christ. The total cost of the week’s operation was $137 which Elizabeth paid, as she was treasurer.

Story Book Lodge Expands

Story Book Lodge grows in the 1950s

During the ’50s camps expanded to first 4, then 6, and finally 8 weeks, and later 2 weeks of family camps were added. Each camp was for two weeks and some 35-45 campers. The Den was the first dining room for 16 people with a very small kitchen. In ’54 the Ranch house became Elizabeth’s home and the basement could seat some 45 for dining. Running water and a small toilet seemed luxurious! Prior to this, all dishes were washed outside, rain or shine.

Dining hall built during a strike at Erie in the 1960s

Some employees from Erie Mining Company were impressed with the camp and Erie donated a complete kitchen equipment set. A dining hall was needed and built near the lake, by men during a strike time at Erie.

Story Book Lodge becomes an official non-profit

During the mid-sixties a total land tax structure change took place and it became evident that the property, as well as the operation, of camp had to become a non-profit, tax-exempt property. Elizabeth expressed a desire to form a total ownership under Story Book Lodge Christian Camps. In turn, the board arranged for her living and that of her brother and sister.

The Great 80's

The Rodgers join Story Book Lodge

In the early 1980s, Larry & Roxanne Rodgers married and began serving at SBL. Larry frequently helped lead the singing & worked on camp projects, as well as keeping the camp financial records. Roxanne was the camp nurse, kitchen organizer, hospitality leader, & chief cleaner of the cabins. They continued their service for the next 40 years.

Jerry Brown joins Story Book Lodge

In the later 1980s, Jerry Brown came to help with the building of the Dining Hall. He has stayed on for around 35 years helping with the camp maintenance and has played a crucial role in the success of the work at Story Book Lodge.

Changing of the Guard

Uncle Bill Takes Role of Camp Director

In 1991, Uncle Bill & Karen Howell moved to camp where Bill currently serves as the camp director replacing Uncle Ben who had served in that capacity for 43 years.

The 2010s through Present Day

Jordan Juvland came to camp to help Jerry with maintenance in 2015. Ruth later joined him in marriage.

Joel & Tori Lewicki moved into the Log House in 2023 to take the place of Larry & Roxanne Rodgers.


Hundreds have assisted in counseling, lifeguarding, and working. Thousands of campers have been served. Hundreds have confessed being saved. Many people served, helping, warning, encouraging, giving, working, checking, advising and praying — that has been the testimony of Story Book Lodge Christian Camp as the Bible and the Gospel have been promoted.

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