Project Description

Gerel Blauer

Camper in the 40’s from age 8-13 (as old as you could be to go to camp.)

How was camp back in the 40’s?
We had our showers once a week in a big building. The rest of the week everybody would take a bar of soap and a towel to the lake. When you are young you don’t think about the temperature, but it was cold. The latrines were a metal trough, like what a horse would use, and outside in an open shack. You brushed your teeth washed your face and did all your washing in it. There were slugs everywhere, they were huge. I can still picture them today. They were kind of light green with black spots on them.

We had a flag raising ceremony every morning. We didn’t sing a lot of songs except on Shabbat. Unfortunately, there was little Jewish content in those days. The focus of the camp was to get young Jewish children together. There were no other camps that were Jewish. There were only four cabins on one side and four on the other side. There was a hillside cabin at the top for the older girls. At that time it was all girls at a session.

Swimming was in the lake, there was no pool. It was cold. I don’t think we had boats in those days. But the kids who were good swimmers could swim across the Lake. I was not a good swimmer and I had to stay in what they called the crib. It was a wooden area that was separated off in the lake and it had wooden slats that went all the way down.

Why is camp so important?
It is the getting together of the Jewish children, being proud in your roots. It is like going to a shtetl, everybody knows everybody else. The fact that you are comfortable with like-minded Jewish children is a very comforting feeling. Especially when you are away from home. If you have a religious affiliation with a synagogue and maybe just go for bar mitzvah or a wedding, camp is something like that, it holds you together. Whether you are reform or conservative even orthodox it holds you together. All of my girls attended camp, and most of their children, we are just waiting for the next generation to come along and find their home at camp.