The American Camping Movement
Early 20th century camps were created to teach youngsters about living together socially, to help them learn from the natural environment, and to remove them from a stifling and unhealthy urban environment. Jewish camps followed this pattern and the earliest camps had Jewish campers but few or no Jewish educational aims. Camps were meant to foster the same values of independence, socialization, and physical health as were common in early progressive camps. Many Jews even saw the act of organized summer camping as a form of American acculturation, even if the campers attending were exclusively Jewish.
Above, children pledge to the flag at the National Jewish Welfare Board Camp at Cedar Lake.
The top right photo is from 1954, but the rugged task of outdoor cooking is timeless and would have been a major part of early summer camps.
Camp Walden. Denmark, Maine. Ethel Katzenstein attended the girl's camp in the 1920s. Girls paddling canoes.
Camp Walden. Denmark, Maine. Ethel Katzenstein attended the girl's camp in the 1920s. Postcard of girls hiking down a dirt road.
Camp Saginaw. 1954. The 5x7 picture was taken at Camp Saginaw, Oxford, PA in 1954. It shows my group of 8-year-olds at a campfire site. I worked as a counselor there that year and again in 1955.
Children eating lunch at a country camp, circa 1950
Children pledging the flag at Cedar Lake Camp, circa 1930
Boys examining nature at country camp, circa 1950