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Outpost Excursion

By: Gabe Neistein, Chief Advancement Officer

In my role as the Chief Advancement Officer, I have the privilege of seeing firsthand how all our programs advance our mission. Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see Camp Kennedy and the Charles N. Agree Outpost Camp in action and was reminded how special these programs are within our camp community. 

Our Chief Financial Officer, Andy Belsky, and I first traveled north to Wawa, Ontario, said a quick ‘hello’ to the famous Wawa Goose, and visited Agree Outpost Camp. We were greeted by an extraordinary group of alumni who were taking part in a two-week Agree Alumni Reunion led by former director Beth Sonne. We were given a tour by Phil Jacobs, who drove from St. Paul, Minnesota, and who, along with others in attendance, have Tamarack ties as far back as the 1960s. Phil and so many of the alumni participants literally built Agree to what it is today. We are so proud that more than 40 alumni enjoyed the beauty of Agree over the two-week reunion and are so grateful to Beth for making it all possible (see Beth’s Alumni Almanac article).

Andy and I then joined our Chief Executive Officer, Lee Trepeck, and Chief Medical Officer, Stefanie Aronow, at Camp Kennedy, near Munising, where we, along with Camp Kennedy Director, Lauren Yellen, surprised 25 campers and staff with snacks. The group was enjoying their last two days of what they agreed was the Best. Summer. Ever! 

Campers, fresh off a canoe trip on Lake Nevins with long-time Camp Kennedy leader, Jody Winkelman, proudly showed their decorated paddles and the hallowed grounds they called home for the last three weeks. As a group, we enjoyed dinner, prepared entirely by the campers, and capped our amazing visit with a sunset song session at Pictured Rocks. While singing Jeff Grey songs, each camper and staff – along with Lee, Andy, Stefanie, and me – was clearly soaking up every minute of their cherished Camp Kennedy experience. When asked how they could possibly top this summer, many said they were excited to give it a try at Agree next year.

The outpost experience embodies our agency’s values and all we hope to pass on to our campers. This tradition, which spans almost six decades, is where campers learn essential skills. These skills are what fosters self-reliance, independence, and life-long passions. Tamarack promotes inclusivity; Kennedy and Agree are further examples of where campers can be themselves and be celebrated for it. In a world where we are often glued to our phones and technology, or as Jody puts it, “live by the clock,” at Kennedy and Agree, campers leave their devices and clocks behind to disconnect. They eat food they made themselves when they’re hungry, sleep when they’re tired, and enjoy each other’s company unincumbered by screens – all in two of the most beautiful settings in the world. This is the spirit of the Tamarack outpost experience and an invaluable part of Tamarack’s mission.