Did you know that Jewish Detroit’s Fresh Air Society was created in 1902 as a Federation “mission” to Belle Isle? Serving immigrant women and children, the Society organized chartered trolly trips to the park for a day of recreation in the “fresh air.”  Over a century has passed, the camp sites have changed, but the mission of Tamarack still holds: to enrich the health, soul and spirit of Jewish children of all backgrounds.

The year was 1923

Having moved from its old house in Kingston, Ontario, purchased in 1904, to its first resident site in Roseville, Michigan, in 1908, the Fresh Air Camp then found a more permanent setting at Venice Beach on Lake St. Claire.  This site accommodated about 200 youngsters each season from the years 1912 to 1925.

Boys Camp at Venice Beach
Quietly seated for the photographer, boys in the dining tent at Venice Beach.

The year was 1950

When the land and facilities that were purchased and donated in Brighton in 1927 could no longer accommodate the growing numbers of children needing to be served, a second campsite was purchased in Ortonville, Michigan — to be named Camp Tamarack, after Tamarack Hills Farms.

Camp Tamarack
Must be the Lake Effect. Everyone is waving. Camp Tamarack, circa 1950.

Circa 60’s

Dawning of the Boomers.  A time of growth at Camp Tamarack. DeRoy, Fishman, Sheruth, Berman, Levison and Specialty Villages were constructed so that campers would live in different villages according to age and gender.

Camp Tamarack, 1960s
Age of Aquarius? First session, Fishman Village, Camp Tamarack.

Circa 70’s

From its youngest campers, ages 7 and 8, to its outdoor adventure travel trips for older teens, by the 70’s Camp Tamarack had grown to a full-service, year-round facility. With the Butzel Conference Center built to serve adults, the camp added family camp experiences, as well as corporate event accommodations.

Camp Tamarack, 1970s
Coming, going, boarding. The wheels on the Tamarack bus go ’round and ’round.

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