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Accession number 2010.01
Object Name Manuscript
Title Fresh Air Society/Tamarack Camps Records
Collection Fresh Air Society/Tamarack Camps Records
Date 1921-2012
Scope & Content This collection is organized into five series: Administration, Tamarack Hills Authority, Teen Trips, Specialty Villages, and Add-On. For the most part, the folders are arranged in reverse chronology and then alphabetically.

Series I. Board Meetings (Boxes 1-8): This series mainly contains the minutes for the board meetings of the Fresh Air Society. Some correspondence, reports, and related materials are also interspersed throughout.

Series II. Tamarack Hills Authority (Boxes 9-10): This series is comprised mainly of the minutes of the Tamarack Hills Authority (THA) board meetings. THA was the property management arm of the Fresh Air Society. Their first meeting was held in 1950 and they disbanded in 985. The last board meeting minutes are included in the collection. The THA handled all the properties and capital contributions, buildings, and improvements. After disbanding, the Capital Needs Committee of the Jewish Federation assumed these tasks.

Series III. Teen Trips (Boxes 11-13): This series mainly contains the journals written by staff and campers of the Alaska, Eastern, Western, Israel, and Great Britain trips.

Series IV. Specialty Villages and Activities (Boxes 14-26). This series contains documents relating to the many specialty villages and activities associated with Fresh Air Society, including brochures, newsletter, and staff and camper rosters. The Butzel Conference Center, family and senior camping, and outpost camps are also included.

Series V. Add-On (Box 27). After processing of the collection was completed, another box of materials was sent from Fresh Air Society/Tamarack Camps. When possible, the materials were interfiled within the first four series. The rest were put together into one box at the end of the collection. The bulk of the box deals with property management issues relating to the Ortonville property.
Admin/Biographical History In 1902, two educated, wealthy, Detroit women, Blanche Hart and Ida Kopple, began taking children (mostly Russian and Eastern European immigrants) for day trips to Belle Isle during the hot summer months. They were the first campers of what would become the Fresh Air Society.

The Fresh Air Society was officially organized in 1904. Partially funded by the United Jewish Charities, its mission was to "take deserving children for day outings during the hot months" and to "furnish milk and ice or feed to the needy sick."

For the first twenty years, Hart and Kopple bought small homes, first in Ontario, and then in Roseville and then Venice Beach on Lake St. Clair for overnight camping experiences. In 1912, one hundred boys and one hundred girls arrived by streetcar to the Venice Beach camp. The children were referred to the Fresh Air camp by various Jewish agencies, and only those who needed fresh air the most - usually the poorest and sometimes sickest - were accepted.

In the summer of 1922, the camp moved to Blaine Lake in Brighton, Michigan, and by 1924, there were 541 campers. Eleven percent of them were undernourished. With monies coming in from the organized Jewish Community Funds and individual donors, new bunkhouses and bathhouses were constructed. Programming evolved to include arts and crafts, swimming, canoeing, hiking, picnics, and plays. While a place for immigrant children to become Americanized, Shabbat was still observed.

In 1950, a second location was purchased in Ortonville, Michigan, while Brighton remained the home to younger campers, ages seven to ten. The new piece of land was known as "Tamarack Hill." Today, while still legally the Fresh Air Society, the entity is more commonly known as Tamarack Camps. In Ortonville, newly built cabins were added and in 1953 DeRoy Village opened. The land continued to be developed, creating self-contained villages connected by dirt road. Two teen outpost camps were established- Camp Kennedy in the Upper Peninsula, and Agree Outpost Camp in Ontario, Canada. Additionally, trips to the eastern and western United States, Alaska, Israel, and Great Britain were arranged.

In 1994, Brighton Camp closed and Camp Maas became home to the younger campers. By this time, Fresh Air Society realized that camp presented an opportunity for Jewish education. Rituals and Judaic programming became part of the routine. Today, Tamarack Camps (Fresh Air Society) still provides an enriching Jewish camping experience for children and their families.
Extent of Description 11 Linear Feet
27 boxes
Credit line Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives, Fresh Air Society/Tamarack Camps Records
Search Terms Tamarack Camps
Camp Tamarack
Fresh Air Society
Subjects
Relation Show Related Records...
Finding Aid Click here to view Finding Aid.