The Alumni Spotlight gives us the opportunity to catch up with a Tamarack alum, hear about where they are now, and learn how Tamarack Camps shaped them. Marisa Horn is returning to Tamarack Camps for the summer – in a new role – after years away. Read her story below!
When did you attend Tamarack Camps? What villages or programs were you part of?
I attended Shabbat weekend in 1999 and 2000, but my camp journey really began in 2004 and lasted 11 years until 2015 (or so I thought). I was a camper in Berman, Grosberg Ruach, Kaufman Specialty, and Western. After Western, I returned to Camp Maas as a TSS (now known as Teen Leadership Village – TLV) and then staffed Fishman, Berman, Grosberg Ruach, Robinson Pioneer, Kennedy, Western, and Alaska. I feel lucky to have been a part of so many different villages and programs at camp. This summer I will be returning to Camp Maas as a member of the camper care team and cannot wait to see camp through this new lens!
What lessons did you learn from camp?
As a camper, I learned the importance of facing a challenge head on. My counselors always encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. It was their continued love and support that got me to try new things. As a staff member, I learned to be patient, flexible, and calm. No matter how many hours we put into planning programs, there were always things that did not go as planned. I learned then to embrace the unexpected, which is a lesson I apply often.
What are you up to now personally and/or professionally?
I am currently living in Metro Detroit with my fiancé (another Tamarack Camps alumni) and working as a school social worker. We spent the past three year out west in Denver, Colorado living near many of our friends from camp and returned to Michigan this past summer. Being back home and close to our family and friends has been so enjoyable!
How did camp impact how you live your life today?
I owe so much of who I am today to camp. Tamarack impacted me in so many ways it is impossible to capture it all here. Most importantly, it introduced me to the greatest group of people who are my best friends today. Camp also instilled in me a love for nature. I go hiking and camping every chance I get. After graduating with my master’s degree in social work, I spent a year working in wilderness therapy where I spent 50% of my time living in the woods with at-risk youth and young adults. I started my graduate program right after staffing the Alaska trip. I distinctly remember sitting in my professor’s office explaining what I did over the summer, and he looked at me and said, “You know there is a world where you can combine your love for camp and your passion for social work; it is called wilderness therapy.” I never would have sought out this opportunity if it were not for camp!
Why is Tamarack Camps “The Greatest Place on Earth?”
Tamarack is a place where campers and staff can go and be their true selves. It is filled with endless opportunities. When I started as a camper, I never knew a place like this existed. As soon as I stepped off the green Tamarack bus, I could feel the positive energy and happiness in the air – which is something I still feel today when I step foot on Tamarack’s property! Camp is a place where you can step away from the stress of your day-to-day life and just be in the moment. The Tamarack community is so special! It provides a unique opportunity for campers and staff to learn about themselves, as well as their similarities and differences to campers and staff from all around the world.
Was there a staff member that made a lasting impact on you and why?
My Berman staff were incredible! We had a very challenging bunk with a lot of drama, but our staff provided us with an amazing summer and never let their frustration show. They even followed our group for three more summers.
What’s your favorite camp memory?
There are so many memories to choose from, it is hard to pick just one. So many of the best moments at camp are the little ones – staying up late in your tent talking, sitting around the campfire, playing cards on the bus, and sleeping under the stars. When I was a Western camper, we got in a minor car accident and were stuck in Cody, Wyoming for a few days awaiting bus repairs. Eventually we got a new bus and were back on the road. Because of the Wyoming pit stop, the trip ended up being extended a few extra days. The moment our staff shared that information was pretty amazing – no one wanted the summer to end!
Favorite camp meal: Wacky Mac.
Favorite trip: Chilkoot – there is nothing like making it to the top of the Golden Staircase and looking out at the view!
Favorite program/theme day: Ranch Wars (Pio 2012), one of my all-time favorite programs!
Interested in being featured in an upcoming alumni spotlight? Fill out this form and stay tuned for the next spotlight!