orley-harriet

What is your connection to Tamarack Camps?

I was a camper for approximately six years at Camp Tamarack. I spent one year in Brighton, a year in Sheruth, and two years in Pioneer. I specialized in the drama program during my first year in Pioneer, where we put on a play for the entire camp. I remember during my second year in Pioneer learning how to cook all of our meals, trekking down to the tripping shack for supplies each day.  We made a fire and cooked dinner rotating tasks for each meal.  My final year, I was a Counselor in Training, assigned to a bunk in Fishman.

When I was 16, I had the opportunity to go on the Western Trip. We rode on a green school bus back then. There was no air conditioning and we camped-out in pop tents that accommodated four each night.  The trip was expensive for my family – around $400.  My father scrapped the money together but we could not afford a down sleeping bag.  I had a small luncheon for my sweet 16 and a few neighbors chipped in for that sleeping bag. I can still remember how shocked and thrilled I was (see photo below)!!

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Harriet receiving her sleep bag for her Western Trip at her Sweet Sixteen luncheon.

What’s your favorite camp song?

I learned a number of songs at Tamarack that still bring me back to those childhood summers when I hear them.  I vividly remember the sun going down and being around the flag pole singing “Taps”.  It gave me such a warm feeling that I can remember as I type this.  I learned how to actually do the real steps to the Hora, which I find few know how to perform at a Simcha.  And, I learned the prayers for Friday nights, although they were very short versions back then.

How has Tamarack Camps impacted who you are today?

My summers at Tamarack were so important to me.  They taught me to live with others, compromise and try new things.  Camping taught me to share a small space, in a diverse community and contribute to it.  It showed me how to be a leader and respect when one is a follower.  Camp taught me survival skills, that perhaps I have not had to use, but I know what to do if necessary.  I believe through my CIT experience I learned first aid and CPR.  Those that know me would be shocked to know that I swam the lake a number of summers.  I am terrified of water and I can still remember my terror in swimming it.  But, I did it!  I can assure you I would never do something like that now and I am not sure why I chose to do it then.

You are the President of Hebrew Free Loan, which is another wonderful organization in the Detroit Jewish community that provides financial assistance to families toward camp and other opportunities. What got you involved with HFL and why is its role important to our community? 

I became involved in Hebrew Free Loan when a friend asked me to take her place on the Board.  I knew nothing about it when I started.  The first few months was all it took for me to fall for this organization.  The ability to help an individual face-to-face with a need and contribute in a small way in making that life easier is amazing.  Summer camp is such an important vehicle to help a child grow in new ways.  I firmly believe everyone should at least try it once.  If Hebrew Free Loan can provide financial assistance, we are contributing to that child having a new experience.

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Harriet’s photos of the bus (left) and boat trip (right) from her 1972 Western Trip.

Did you go to camp with Harriet? Share your story today at alumni@tamarackcamps.com!

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