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Alumni Spotlight with Mollie Yarsike

When did you attend Tamarack Camps?

I started going to camp slowly, which was perfect for me. I first went for a Shabbat weekend in Shiffman, then one week in Fishman. After that, I went every summer from ages seven to fifteen, eventually building up to a full session in Specialty. I absolutely loved every moment that I spent there. Tamarack Camps definitely impacted my life and had influence on the person I am today.

What lessons did you learn from camp?

I was encouraged to get out of my comfort zone of living in the “Bloomfield Bubble.” I learned how to be independent, adapt to camping, interact with the opposite sex, and to turn friends into family. Through camp, I was able to explore a deep connection to my Jewish roots. To have everyone around you take part in the tradition of Shabbat and praying at meals is something I will never forget.  I will always remember my village cheers, Exodus, and learning about Voyageur. These little things are what continue to bond one Tamarack camper to another. This experience has shaped me as a Jew to this day. I still feel a deep tie to my Jewish roots and I know Tamarack played a big role in that.

What are you up to now?

Currently, I live in Los Angeles and I have my own business Black Tie Kids which is a wedding and events camp for kids. We provide onsite childcare and pupcare for weddings and events.  We also have a branch in Michigan that provides childcare (no pups). In my free time, I love to hike, go to farmers markets, hangout with friends, and eat my way throughout Los Angeles.

How did you start Black Tie Kids?

I went to school at The Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, and upon graduation I moved to LA. Once arriving in LA, I met with a few different Rabbi’s so that I could start making friends. One Friday night in particular, I went to a young professionals Shabbat dinner that was hosted by a Rabbi and Rebbetzin. The Rabbi and his wife had three kids (ages 7, 6 and 4).  The two older kids were totally fine that night. They joked around with each other, ate their meal and kind of knew what to expect from a night like this. The four year old on the other hand was pretty sad. She needed attention and her parents were both busy hosting. Her siblings were old enough to keep themselves occupied, so she was essentially alone. I saw her upset and my camp counselor instincts kicked in.  We played games and talked. It was when I went home that I realized that there needed to be something so that kids could still feel special during an adult- focused event. It was then that the idea of Black Tie Kids came to be. It first started out as a babysitting service, and with input from those around me it evolved into a wedding and events camp for kids. We are more than just your average babysitter. We bring crafts and games, and really engage with the kids.

What connections do you find between Black Tie Kids and Tamarack?                  

When going to camp, you are put in an environment that is outside of your normal comfort zone. It can be hard for some kids to adapt, but the staff at Tamarack always makes sure that all campers are comfortable and happy. At Black Tie Kids, kids are placed with childcare providers that they are unfamiliar with. They are in a different environment, sometimes away from their parents, and with other kids they don’t know. Our staff’s number one priority is to make sure that our clients and campers are happy. We always put them before us at each event, just like the staff at Tamarack Camps.

At Tamarack Camps, we create magic that grows throughout the summer, do you do that at Black Tie Kids in one night? How?

At the beginning of each event, I always wonder “Will kids actually have fun? Will this be boring for them? Will the client be pleased with our services?” By offering a service that allows all wedding guests to enjoy their night just a little bit more than they would have (had Black Tie Kids not been there), everyone has a good time. The magic comes from a great team that is passionate, energetic, and always striving to make sure the kids and pups are comfortable in a new and different environment (much like the staff at Tamarack did for me as a camper).

What are your hopes and dreams for Black Tie Kids?

I hope that Black Tie Kids has a branch in every big city in the United States. I see this service as a need for any type of event, not just weddings. Partnering with synagogues for their high holiday services and being referred out by hotels for their guests who are in need of a sitter are benchmarks I plan to reach in the near future. It isn’t easy, but with enough passion and enthusiasm from clients, I’m pushed to keep going and to follow my dreams.

Why is Tamarack Camps “The Greatest Place on Earth”?

Tamarack Camps is THE greatest place on earth because it is a place where you can truly be yourself. At camp, everything isn’t always perfect, but at the end of the summer when you reflect back.. it truly was perfect. All different types of people attend camp. There is a place for everyone. You learn more about yourself than you would if you were home. You learn your strengths and weaknesses and how to work as a team, a community, and a family. When you’re at camp, it’s all about the connections you make and the experiences you have.

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