The two oldest Jewish resident camps in the nation–both founded in 1902–will be celebrating their 110th anniversaries soon, and they’ll be throwing themselves big birthday bashes. Surprise Lake Camp in Cold Spring, New York, and Tamarack Camps in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, both affiliated with JCC Association, have served children for more than a century, introducing them to the pleasures of camping, the beauty of nature, and the joy of Jewish life.
Founded by the Educational Alliance, Surprise Lake Camp was originally established to give poor Jewish boys from the tenements of the Lower East Side a chance to breathe some clean air. One of its first campers was Eddie Cantor, who became one of the country’s most beloved entertainers and an ardent supporter of the camp. Since then, Surprise Lake Camp has graduated lots of celebrities, including singer/songwriter Neil Diamond, talk show host Larry King, and actor/comedian Jerry Stiller.
Tamarack Camp began as a Fresh Air Society camp for mothers and children. Over the years, the camp grew and moved locations several times. One of the architects whose design for an expansion was rejected was Frank Lloyd Wright! Tamarack is now one of the largest camps in North America, serving over 1200 campers each summer. Both camps represent the highest ideals of the JCC Movement, which is dedicated to bringing the heritage and values of Jewish life to the broadly diverse community JCCs serve. Mazal Tov!