Camp Wilkes was established in 1938 to provide the Boy and Girl Scout organizations of the Biloxi Bay Area a place to go for an outdoor experience under local leadership. Land was acquired on the south side of the Bay of Biloxi. Buildings were constructed to house and feed groups up to 250 campers. A wooded area that could accommodate the needs of the local scouts was now available near town for leaders to take their youngsters camping. Prior to the development of Camp Wilkes, local organization had to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana to camp.
In 1942, due to the opening of Keesler Field (Keesler Air Force Base), Camp Wilkes was relocated to its current location: an 89 acre site on the north shore of the Bay of Biloxi. Kornman's house movers floated the original buildings across the bay on barges. The Scouting groups did not use the camp facilities all the time so shortly after moving in 1942 the camp managers opened the use of camp to any organized youth or church group to conduct outdoor activities under adult leadership. Shortly thereafter, camp was made available to business and fraternal organizations for one day activities such as picnics or pool parties.