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« Scarlett O’Hara’s Disgruntled Sister Haunts My Blog | Main | Windy City Regression »

August 11, 2008


HI there,

This was a lovely memory of your mother, a lovely gift to your children, and somber at the same time. I lost my mother less than two years ago and just this summer I visited my own childhood summer camp. Although our stories are quite different, going to camp reminds me of my mom too. It reminds me of her letters, the care packages, etc. I was picturing you stumbling on this camp and imagining your emotions.

I'm a HUGE supporter of Jewish summer camps. Even 21 years later, camp is still an important part of who I am. My husband didn't have the chance to do Jewish summer camp, and like you, it so wasn't his thing.

I actually just did a post on our visit, here's the link if you're interested:

Maybe you could go back and put a caption beneath those pictures to identify the people or describe the scene ?

Well, the black and white pictures all show my mother at Burr Oaks. I don't know who that boy is with my mom in the fifth photo but that's my grandmother with my mom at the bottom. In the color pictures, that's my sister with my nephews in the fourth photo (standing under the Lo-He-Ha carving in Crown Hall), and the second set are all my nephew Spencer with his camp friends.

The totem pole is no longer there but everything else looks pretty much the same. They told us on Friday, however, that they're going to have to knock down some of the older buildings before next summer because a few of them are not in good shape. That's a shame, it's really cool seeing all the remnants of the old Burr Oaks.

I was a ghetto kid, so I never went to camp. But when I had children, I discovered this thing called a scholarship. So, both of my girls went and absolutely loved camp for several Summers.

Always love seeing Spencer and Gabe together.

What a wonderful reminiscence. You are part of BOC family without having to participate in all the cheering and togetherness of young girls!

As I got older, I have often thought about the parallel of BOC and concentration camps for Jewish girls. Yet it was not part of my consciousness as a camper or young adult. I began BOC in 1949, after the war, but not too long after!

There was one song written by campers during the war in 1944 (your mom's era) which we all sang and loved (my favorite!):

While camping together in the year '44.
We dreamt neath the stars of the end of the war.
We prayed that our campfires would light up the world,
With the banner of hope that our youth had unfurled.
We pray to LoHeHa that war shall be over and all soldier boys shall return home again.
And mankind shall dwell in the sunlight of freedom....
With Peace on earth, goodwill towards man for ever more.

The words are from my memory, so the song may be a little off, but the impact then and NOW is still here. This would be a great song for everyone to know as war is constant unfortunately! You said it so well: American Jewish girls camps and German concentration camps happening at the same time!

Sue looks like your Mom. It's a wonderful presentation with your vivid photos. Were you aware of Memory Hall burning down in the 50's and having to rebuild the new building with metal (I think). Uncle Bill lost all the costumes in the fire...all the fairy costumes! Oy!

Warmly and LoHeHa,

Danny ?!
You have got to write about "If Walls Could Talk !"
I started watching the show, and when the host said your and Kendall's names, I said, "I know them !" It was a fun show, and I feel like I got to meet both of you.

Danny, I don't want you to think campers wore white 'outfits' all the time! Only at Friday night meals and Sundays, probably when most photos were taken. All other days for activities they wore blue 'outfits' which were always getting dirty! And on Thursday nights for the WaDaHo Island suppers campers could wear their regular clothes. It's been a very long time since I've thought about this!

dear danny,

i was so floored by your mention of our Jewish sisters in europe under hitler's insanity.

"...but it’s impossible for me to see those dates on the photos and not think of what was happening to the Jewish girls in Europe while my mother and her friends were singing camp songs in Mukwonago."

my mother and i have begun a spontaneous family photo scanning project this summer, and just a couple of weeks ago, while e-mailing a photo of my grandmother and mother taken outside a photographer's studio in north texas during the early 1940s [to my friend], virtually that same sentiment struck me. my grandmother's and mother's obvious Semitic (Ashkenazi) appearance would have almost certainly "sentenced" them to a horrific outcome---it's simply unmistakable---and oh, LORD, what would have become of them had they simply been across an ocean?

it's pretty staggering to consider the soberness that supposition/consideration sets forth. yes, staggering.

i wrote my friend the following message on 29 July 2008,

[Here] is "a photo of my precious Jewish grandmother, Exie Viola (Carmichael) Simpson & my mother, Sylvia (Simpson) Brown---had they been in europe at this time, they would have been under dire threat of hitler and his nazi regime, for sure. mind-boggling. across an ocean in america---safety. on the european continent---almost certain demise. again, mind-boggling."

thanks, for allowing me to share this with you.

greetings from austin, texas,
denise brown

Danny, what a coincidence to discover that my grandson was at Beber Bnai Brith Camp with Judy Miller s grandson...My grandson is two years younger than Spencer but he did know him...I hope my friend, Judy, knows this and once again, she & I are connected..It really is a "beshert" kind of to all, marsha

Can I join your group? Or does my desire to join mean I'm automatically not a fit?


Danny, like you I never got to go to camp, so when Elisabeth turned 10, I immediately signed her up -- and she went for the next four summers. I got the second-hand camping experience and knew, KNEW, I would have been a camp failure! So much joining to do! So many people to get to know! I would have come home weighing 240 pounds after stress-eating my way through the social experience.

Your stories are always amazing to me, and your memory for details and events is a rare gift. I really hope you write a book one day.

I was an abject failure at Camp Lakota in Masten Lake, sullivan county, new york...about 20 min away from where my country house is. I went back a couple of years ago..just to see if it existed. It did ...except the big aerial photo of all us campers was no longer in the camp office. Several years ago, campers from my era loved the camp so much, they bought it as the ads said. I was curious if they still were there. Well part were as the one partner I most wanted to see had left. I asked if the Pine Forest had really burned and was told it was sill there. There was no time to see it.. the camp was open. I remember those 2 summers sitting amidst the pines trees and sometimes crying my eyes misery for being such an outcaste...i looked way too young and was not as mature as the other girls..delayed adolescense ... totally clueless about managing my hair ,and quite chubby, never mind putting on make up...oy vey...What total bitches they were!!!

As someone who stumbled on your blog in a google search on Wilco and as a Jew myself, I have been enjoying your tales quite immensely. Also, I was pretty stoked to find your writing on Wisconsin summer camps. As it happens, one of my friends is the program director at camp Beber, and another one of my friends was one of Spencer's counselors. As a 'Sconnie myself and a BBYO alum, I've been to the Beber grounds twice for different retreats - it really is a great camp, and I'm glad your nephew has been enjoying it!

As for camp Ojibwa, which was mentioned in your original camp post - I had suspicions from the pictures that it had turned into Camp Interlaken, a co-ed Jewish camp also in Eagle River, but it looks like Ojibwa is still alive and kicking. Who knew Eagle River would be big enough for two camps? I thought it would be more like Ramah in Conover, WI - there, the population of the camp is essentially the population of the city. It's true that Wisconsin has a number of camps throughout the state, but the Jewish ones have mostly ditched the Indian themes (Interlaken, Ramah, Young Judaea, Shalom, Beber, etc.) The goyish camps still have Indian names, though - one of the most popular choices for Milwaukeeans being Camp Minikani. When you think about it, though, most of the towns in Wisco are also Indian words - (Willard Scott trying to pronounce "Oconomowoc" is one of the most hilarious things I've heard). I'm not sure what it is about Wisconsin and summer camps in general - they seem to have quite the monopoly nestled in podunk areas. Doesn't the rest of America have farmland?

when did your mom go to camp. did you go also? my mom did and i have been looking for old campers from my moms day. my email is [email protected]
i went to boc approx from 1956 to 1962
my mom went approx from 1935 for approx 7 yrs......we i live now in san antonio.....originally from chicago.

my message above was for Denise in Austin. forgive me everyone i still havent figured out the correct way to post.

looking how to contact wendy spector eisenberg. i think her mom also was a camper during my years. cannot figure out how to email you wendy. my email [email protected]

I was a counselor at Burr Oaks in 1959. I boarded a train in Cincinnati with 7 little girls and we headed west to Chicago where we joined many campers from various US cities. Then 199 campers and 50 counselors were off to Mukwonago. It was a wonderful experience working at Burr Oaks. I particularly remember a 9 year old named Judy Adams from Cincinnati-would love to hear from her. I hope to see the grounds this summer when I'm in Wisconsin.

My kids attend Beber and we loved seeing the old pictures. Don't know what the girls in the 1940's knew about what was going on in Europe but Beber today has Holocaust survivors talk to the kids every year and last year one told the kids that they were the last generation of children who could hear survivor's stories in person and it was their duty to carry those stories into the future (and some people think Summer Camp is just about learning to water ski!)

As for the commentor who was suprised that Eagle River Wisconsin was big ennough for two camps...honey there are close to a dozen up there now!

i am aformer boc camper from 1952 to 1958 i live in dyer indiana and i would like to correspond with ladies who went to camp i am 65 years old but still have wonderful memories of my camp days barbara barton [email protected]

i had wonderful summers at boc. i am looking foward to the reunion.i was 9 years old and i went to camp until i was 13. i am now 67 and i think about those wonderful [email protected] maiden was mannheimer and i live in highland park, il.

Dear Danny,
Just to let you know that once a camper always a camper, Burr Oaks Camp alumnae are organizing a reunion for all campers from 1929 through 1975 to be held in October 2010. As I understand it, there have been well over 300 responses.

I was a camper at Beber in the '80s and I remember they had an old Burr Oaks truck, era 1940's that still worked, didn't see it in the '90s, but could still be there. Good memories.

My grandparents, Jenny and Bill Rice owned Burr Oaks and my mother Jacquelyn Rice was married there on August 20, 1942 to my father, Milton Silverstein (which became Silver).

They were married by Rabbi Jacob Singer. Does anyone know anything about him? I am trying to get information about their Jewish names.

Thank you,
Jeanie Silver

I went to Burr Oaks for 2 summers. I think it was 1965 & 1966. Those were the best summers of my life. I thought it was magical. It was confirmed when I attended the reunion last month. Every one of those campers felt the same. We still had our mementos of BOC. I had my artisan necklace and most of the others had kept parts of camp with them through all of the years. What a special place! We were fortunate.

My family and I went to BOC post camp outings from the early 60s until it became Beber. My daughter went to Beber for one summer in the 70s. It was a magical place! All my parents friends would come and relatives. I loved rowing around the peninsula , shuffleboard, tennis, archery and the Bingo games. We all had baseball games every AM in the field. There was a talent show at the end of the two weeks of post camp that was the best and Bill Rice showed some great movies in Memory Lodge. We all sat on the pier and and went down the slides into the lake. I went water skiing and horseback riding . We always stayed in Sycamore and it was a laugh a minute. Miss it still. Lo He Ha

I went to Burr Oaks for ? many years around 1971 -soon after it did close. The matriarch was called "Aunt Jean" a formidable strict camp director. It seemed as if most of the campers were either from St.Louis (me) or Chicago. My maiden name is Wendy Spector and I have lost touch with all of my B.T. buddies. I was a Rebel, Yank and then the oldest...."Bug House". My mother married the man who owned a competing camp in Minong. Jerry Baer and my mother Maxine Baer. That is when my sister and myself had to move over and go to Birch Trail. I wish there was a way to try find my long lost sisters from Burr Oaks. Let me know if there is.

I just saw (after my post) that a Sandy Martin wrote the words to the song "We gather together in the year 44....." Does anyone have the song book????? That would be sooo great if we could purchase it or get one somehow. As someone who has toured the concentration camps in Poland I never realized till this second that so many of our songs were re:WWII. Could we ever find the paper song book. It would be a great find and then I for one would be happy to finance the effort-whomever has one--of the copy costs and the postage--as a gift. [email protected]___. One of my 4 sons is an officer of B'nai Brith youth BBYO....and I have never heard of Beber. I fear it is too late now that he is 17. Lo-He-Ha

Please add me to any lists for future reunions. This is Wendy Spector Eisenberg again. [email protected] [email protected]. I had been in touch with Cindy Wasserberg. Lost touch. What happened to everybody? I was there aprox. 1970-1974..Kathy Starbuck?

How fantastic to find this correspondence. My mother,
Muriel Geisler Laven was a counselor in the 30s. She designed the sets for the fabulous plays they put on at BOC. It was one of her happiest times. The woman who was her head counselor was my camp director at Alpine Camp in the early 50s.
Has anyone heard of it or knows where it was located?
Nanette Laven Garner

I googled "Burr Oaks Camp" on a lark to see what turned up. To my delight, found this site and read the postings. I was a BOC camper 1954 - 1962. My name was Jeanne Ericsson. Friends' children who attend Camp Bieber have shared stories of their experiences; I was surprised to learn that many of the buildings are still being used and with the same names. My years at BOC Uncle Bill and Aunt Yeta were the directors. My BOC memories are "living" together in a large plastic box with the NRA certificates, Team Week caps, BOC Song Book, cardboard Acorns with a cabin photo taken each year, black jeweled camp belt, etc. The artisen acorn was mounted on a gold disk, still enjoyed and asked about when I wear the gold charm bracelet. All wonderful memories of fun filled summers - including vivid memories of being led by counselors to the top of the hill at midnight, from a sound sleep, to see the fairies dance around the flag pole below. Then the next morning, we collected "jewels" left from the fairies as we assembled for flag raising. [email protected]

I am seeking to make contact with anyone who might remember going to camp with Elaine Sweet in the early 1940s. She later became Elaine Horwitch, a prominent gallery owner in Arizona and New Mexico, and I am writing a book about her life and her influence on contemporary art in the Southwest. If you have any memories of her, please email me at [email protected]. -Julie Sasse

I was doing some online research on a memory book I came across from Burr Oaks Camp when I came across your blog. The book was from a camper who was at the camp for the 1942 and 1943 summers. The book has a diary along with autographs, hometowns and addresses from other campers who were at the camp at the same time. The book is also filled with camp songs. What was your mothers name? She may have been noted or signed the book I have. I would be glad to send pictures too. Thanks. Regards, Tom

I am really excited and touched to see these postings. My sister Mary Beth Cohn and I attended Burr Oaks for many years in the 50's. I have the most wonderful memories ....... being athletic it was the perfect place for me.....I even had the opportunity to play Sandy King in tennis during team week....
she beat me of course. Some of my cabinmates were Andrea Singer, Gail and Marcia......I started camp in 1956 as an Upper Sycamore. If there is another reunion I would truly want to know about it! I have thought often about my camp belt and team week hats and wish I still had them.....
Would love to hear from my email is [email protected] Cohn Copper

Just found this column. Very interesting to learn about some of the history. My mother, Rebecca Pederson, was from Fergus Falls, MN, and worked as a camp counselor for at least the summer of 1953. She loved Burr Oaks and her time in the Campfire Girls organization. Different times. Now our son lives in Mukwonago. Small world.

Oops, my mother had just gotten married but dad was in the Navy - her name as a counselor would have been Becky Kuehnel by the summer '53.

I just happened on this site looking for family history. My Great-Aunt was Yeta Rice and I went to Burr Oaks from 1955 to 1960: Upper Sycamores to Bughouse. My cousins Francine Silvers Fell and Kay Herzog Vydareny also were campers when I was there. Two other cousins, Drindy Baron and Kathy Merens, were there in the 60s. I have a box of memorabilia from camp, including books, camp photos (on the acorns!) belt, awards, songbook, etc. I’ll post them on the Burr Oaks Camp Facebook page; that is, when I can find that box! I think it also has some sticks of sealing wax which we all used on our letters. Mine wasn’t used up because I hated writing letters about my day and instead read during “time-out.” And I always got in trouble for that! I’d like to find some of my cabin mates, so I’m hoping they or their children read this. Some of them are Joy Dubow, Judy Borenstein, Kay Millman, Roseann Trilling and Andy Paradise. Many more…but that’s what comes to mind now. I’d really like hearing from anyone who was there at the same time I was. Lo-He-Ha, everyone.
Eileen Roth Paroff Charlotte, NC [email protected]

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