There are things only grandparents can do for kids. Important things: like first sleep-overs, play dates to remember, a weekend getaway to Tamarack Camps in Ortonville for a camping experience like no other.

Not just for kids, Tamarack Camps has been a place for families for generations. Family weekends run year-round at Tamarack, offering a choice of 25 different sessions. According to Tamarack Camps Director Steve Engel, there’s not a Jewish camp in the country that “does family camp better,” starting with our signature Bubbie Zaydie Family Camp – the “granddaddy camping experience of them all.”

Happy campers, summer 2013

Happy Campers, Bubbie Zaydie Family Style, Summer 2013. Grandparents, Paul and Roberta Ingber with Max and Hailey Young and Ethan and Sydney Ingber.

Serving up delicious challah, roasted chicken, buttered noodles, campfire s’mores and memorable moments since 1984, Bubbie Zaydie Family Camp provides grandparents and their grandchildren, ages 4-14, a special event-filled Shabbat weekend at the Butzel Retreat Center. The grandfamily-friendly “policy” of “no parents allowed” means grandparents and their grandchildren are invited to spend time exclusively together.

Accommodations include air-conditioned guesthouses with private hotel-style rooms and bathrooms.  There is a central pavilion where the full-service dining room is located along with a chapel for Shabbat services, a game room, snack area and a fitness room. All meals and snacks are kosher.

“We don’t have to advertise,” says Family Camp Director Helayne Shaw. “Grandparents and their grandkids know exactly what they’re coming to each year, and they choose to come back to us, summer after summer, often with brothers, sisters, cousins and friends. Inevitably, in each session, we find that there’s a sense of rediscovery and reconnection too. Grandparents return to find old schoolmates or friends they’ve lost touch with – so there’s a lot of Jewish geography that goes on during introductions around the table on the first night.”

Describing how the dynamics of the camp have changed in recent years, Helayne notes a growing number of participants coming from out of town.“More often than not, there’s a plane ticket involved,” she says. “It’s not unusual to hear that grandchildren have flown in from across the country to meet grandparents who live in Metro Detroit, or the grandparents have come in from Florida, or they’ve driven to Chicago to meet up halfway with their kids to pick up grandkids. Whether they’re returning from long distances or long hiatuses, one way or another, it’s really remarkable how all these people have Tamarack connections.”

Happy campers, repeat customers

At Bubbie Zaydie Family Camp 2013: Nora Stone with granddaughters, Sloan (14),  Marin (9) and  Keller (11)

At Bubbie Zaydie Family Camp 2013: Nora Stone with Sloan (14), Marin (9) and Keller (11)

Talk about many happy returns, who better to ask about Bubbie Zaydie Family Camp than camper extraordinaire, Nora Stone? A grandmother of nine children, Nora has attended camp almost every summer over a span of 24 years! She’s come with different sets of grandchildren, bringing five at a time over the first ten years, then returning most recently with three grandchildren, including her 14-year old granddaughter Sloan. “It’s all about creating memories and believe me, we have made memories here,” says Nora. “Last year Sloan announced that she plans to come to camp until she can drive me here herself, and that when she’s a grandmother, she’ll bring her grandchildren here.”

All in a weekend at Tamarack Camps

If there’s a typical day at Tamarack, it’s jam-packed and beautifully orchestrated to be just enough: singing, candle lighting, eating, fishing, boating, tie-dying, candle-making, snacking, “Bubblemania” and “Buber-ator” clues, Green Limo rides, swimming, kickball, baseball, horseback riding, campfires, talent shows, pajama movie time, pancakes for breakfast, closing ceremonies, awards and fond goodbyes.

This summer, Tamarack is offering new lower prices for Bubbie Zaydie Family Camp which runs over nine weekends starting June 13-15 and ending August 8-10. Other family camp programs that Tamarack offers include Dad and Me Family Camp, New Year’s Family Camp, Single Moms Family Camp (on Mother’s Day weekend, funded by the Jewish Women’s Foundation) and the brand new My Mom, My Doll and Me Family Camp.

Camp registration opens Monday, February 3rd.  Applications received by March 21st will be included in a lottery and those received after March 21st will be registered on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, visit Bubbie Zaydie Family Camp online or call 248-647-1100.

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