While Tamarack Camps has assisted families in getting children to camp since its founding as the Fresh Air Society in 1902, the summer of 2009 set new records by providing $1.1 million in financial aid to half of the children going to its summer camps.
For the first time in its history, the Michigan-based Jewish camping agency expended more than $1 million in financial aid – an amount greater than any other Jewish camp in the world – in order to fulfill its mission of never denying a Jewish child the opportunity to attend camp because of financial circumstances.
Roughly half of Tamarack’s estimated $1.1 million in aid has been made possible by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, the umbrella planning and oversight organization for Detroit’s Jewish community. The remainder of the aid needs come from contributions to Tamarack’s annual campaign – “Send a Kid to Tamarack.” Although this year’s campaign for a Jewish camp experience got a big boost through an inaugural patron event that raised $125,000, there is still a need for additional donations.
Roughly one-third of Tamarack’s campers typically receive financial aid each summer, according to Jonah Geller, the agency’s executive director. This ratio has increased to more than half in the last few years because of the distressed economy in Michigan. Geller says sending a child to camp benefits a family in so many ways, especially in difficult times.
“Most of our financial aid applications include a letter from parents indicating the value of a Jewish camp experience for their children,” said Geller. “Many of this year’s letters focus on accommodating a family’s basic needs of food, medical care, and housing. A number of parents have informed us that the great summer experience for their kids also provides them as parents a much-needed respite and time to figure out their next step regarding tough life situations such as their jobs and household financial stress.”
Tamarack Camps, established by the Fresh Air Society, provides enriching Jewish camping experiences for children and families, independent of financial ability, building a vibrant community.