Fishing Cabin Resort on Fish Trap Lake around 1950

History of the Resort

Originally built as C.J. Johnson's Resort in 1947, Campfire Bay Resort has been a lakeside resort destination for generations of families. Fish Trap Lake has been known for hundreds of years as a great fishing lake, with an incredible amount of structure and enough open space for recreational boating as well. While Clarence and Pearl Johnson owned and operated the resort for many years, it changed hands a few times in the 70's and 80's.

A young family stands in front of the sign of the resort they just bought, a goal achieved.

"Is your Resort on a Lake?"

When we bought the resort in 2002, it was named Country View Resort. Despite many prospective guests asking if we were on a lake, we kept that name for a few years.

During our first year of ownership we decided to make some changes to the resort, mainly by making it more family oriented, with activities, free water toys, and with an emphasis on getting to know our guests personally.

Eventually we decided to change the name to Campfire Bay Resort, because we felt that a campfire was a place for friends and family to sit and enjoy each other's company, to tell a joke, a story, or relive the day's events. It embodies warmth and light and we want our resort to be a place where people feel welcomed and can get away, at least for a while, from any darker places of their lives.

Our 4br large family or reunion cabins are in a row just 150 ft from Fish Trap Lake

Resort Improvements Begin

Since we've owned the resort, we have made several physical changes to the property.  In 2006 and 2007, we removed mobile homes and storage buildings from the main resort and constructed five new cabins in their place, Willow, Tamarack, Cedar, Birch, and Poplar.

Our northern Minnesota family resort lodge has ice cream, clothing, and more.

The Resort Lodge

Later, in 2010, we dismantled and donated an old pole barn. In its location, we constructed a lodge building where we have a store, coffee and ice cream shop, game room, laundry and our gathering room.

The lodge is the resort hub where everyone checks in, shops, gets help, and hangs out when not outside. We do most of our indoor organized activities there.

Our office and housekeeping facilities are also in this building so even if no guests are on the property, there is usually still someone working in the lodge!

The Resort Expands lakeside

From the fall of 2002 to 2011, we also purchased three neighboring properties, more than doubling our lake shoreline, and renovated or added new cabins -- Eagles Nest, Pine Beach, and White Oak.

Alternate view of White Oak living/dining space, showing high ceilings and stairs to loft
Sams Island Cabin on Fish Trap Lake in north central Minnesota looks beautiful at sunset

The Island

In 2012, we bought the island 1000ft out in the lake in front of the resort.  Since the island has always been named after its current owners, we renamed it Sams Island. While it is not part of the resort, we privately rent it out just as many others do with their cabins on the lake.

More Cabin Improvements

In 2017, we tore down the connected cabins 6-10 as they were becoming unsafe due to age and poor construction. We built the connected duplexes of Juniper/Aspen, Fir/Maple, Hickory/Spruce in their location that winter. This rebuild allowed us to have 6 more cabins year round.

Each duplex has a total of six bedrooms.  Juniper and Hickory are four bedroom cabins connected to two bedroom cabins, Aspen and Spruce, and Maple and Fir are two three bedroom cabins connected to each other.

Cabin bedroom with pine floor, ceiling, and headboard of queen bed with blue plaid quilt
Lakeside cabin bedroom with pine ceiling, w

New Lakeside Cabins

We donated Cabins 1 and 2  in the fall of 2021 and rebuilt them to also be year round starting in 2022. Also in 2022, we purchased the neighboring 22 acres to be able to have trails and house staff in the small home on the property.

In the fall of 2022, we donated the remaining 3 beach cabins and rebuilt them identical to the previous two. These beach cabins, Loon, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Kingfisher, and Blue Heron, are named after waterfowl found on Fish Trap Lake. Our total year round accommodations total 18, with two more cabins open only May to October.

The Sams Family

Both Brian and Heather's previous life and formal education prepared them for running a resort where guests are treated as friends and where making great memories with your family is a priority.

Brian grew up in the area, living in a rural Staples, MN and attending Staples Motley High School. After high school he graduated from Bethel University in Arden Hills, MN with a degree in Language Arts and Secondary Education. Brian spent many summers working at camps, Big Sandy Camp near McGregor, MN; Camp Shamineau, just 5 miles from the resort; and at a backpacking/wilderness camp.

Heather's family moved around quite a bit when she was growing up, but moved to this area as a high school junior when her dad became a director at Camp Shamineau. She attended Staples Motley High School as well and it was there that she met Brian. She graduated from Bethel University with degree in Spanish and Secondary Education.


Their sons Elijah, Cael, and Iain, have grown up only knowing the resort life as Elijah was just two and the others not yet born when the Sams purchased the resort. With each year they took on more responsibilities around the resort and could be seen helping out at different activities as well.

Elijah graduated from his parents' alma mater, Bethel University in 2020 and lives and works in the Cities with his new bride, Olivia. Cael and Iain graduated from Central Lakes College in 2021, and Cael is currently finishing his BA at Bethel while Iain works full time near the resort. All three boys work in some capacity at the resort.

We hope to keep Campfire Bay a family-run and family-focused resort for years to come, so come...join us at the Campfire.