Informal History of Our Time at Sylvan Lake

@13.7 billion years ago: The big bang: The beginning of the universe and time.
@4.5 billion years ago:  Our solar system is formed.
@3.5 billion years ago:  Life appears on earth.
@250 million years ago:  Mammals evolve.
@150 thousand years ago: Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosome Adam are born.
@150 thousand years ago to 1923: Nothing much of interest.

1923: Camp Kinderland opens for its first season. After a successful
      summer the site is purchased. Yankle Doroshkin mortgages his house to obtain
      the down payment and a fundraising campaign is started to buy and run the camp.

1927: The Workmen's Circle seeing the success of Kinderland decide to start
      their own camp. They are able to obtain property on the opposite side of
      Sylvan Lake and open Camp Kinder Ring.

1935: Wo-Chi-Ca (WOrker's CHIldren's CAmp) opens for its first season.
1935: Ben Itzkowitz becomes the camp photographer.

1936: The "Fascist" team wins "Capture the Flag. The Loyalists team loses.

1938: There is a visiting day every weekend.

1939: Tents are still used for at least some of the campers.
      Camp Lakeland is established for adults on the same property.

1940: Camp's dining room/theater/Casino, a wooden building near
      the sports field, burned down between the 1939 and 1940 season.
1941: Tennis court, near the sports field, is still being used.
1941: The Casino is built.

1942-1945 Our parents dropped us off at a building on West 42nd street.
          From there we marched to the river, boarded the Hudson River Day Line steamboat
          and sailed to Poughkeepsie. A bus then picked us up and took us to camp.
          We came home the same way. This was done to save gasoline.

1943: Yackagdayou Brateslayou(The Yackles) and the 7-11s are formed.

1944: Deluxe Bunks A and B are built.
      The bunks came "equipped" with a goat and a sheep -- live, not stuffed --
      that were supposed to bring the kids closer to nature, or vice versa.
      The animals frequently broke their tethers to great consternation and
      amusement. The goat munched on poison ivy and gladly spread the rash
      to anyone who petted it.

1945: The U shaped cinderblock dining room is built. The older wooden building which
      stood on the same site had burned down.

1947: Delux Bunks 16, 17 and 18 are built.
1947: World Youth Festival in Prague celebrated at Camp; greetings sent from Prague
      by ex-camper, staffer (and Yakl) Marx Wartofsky, representing the Jewish Young
      Fraternalists (youth section of JPFO).
1947: Five-day Yiddish shule teacher training session for interested Camp counselors
      held in the casino after children leave, sponsored by School for Teachers and
      Higher Jewish Education, university-level school of JPFO.

1948: Near the end if the season, a girl named Rita contracted polio. The campers and
      staff were quarantined in camp for an additional two weeks. The mattresses were burned.

1949: Up until now the campers are divided into 5 groups, fifth group up to first group.
      This year a Work Group is added, they paid less and they worked for camp, what a deal.
1949: The last year for the Drum and Bugle corps, Abe Wohl leader.
1949: August 14, Paul Robeson visits camp.
1949: Sept 4, A concert is given near Peekskill, NY.
      The performers include Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger.
1950: The Howard Fast Work Group builds the Open Platform.
1950: Wo-Chi-Ca closes.

1951: The Work Group builds the steps to the Open Platform.
1951: The First Group builds the steps at the waterfront.
1951: Huey gets a Kinderland emblem (A picture is on the home page)
      for being a "good boy" even though he complained, along with
      many others, about the Yiddish lessons we were required to attend.
1951: The last year that Yiddish lessons are a required activity.
1951: The last year that visiting days are held every Sunday.
1951: The last year for White Salutes.
1951: Wyandot (the new name for Wo-Chi-Ca) Opens for its first season.

1952: The name of the Work Group is changed to the Youth Group.
      They still paid and worked; they build the benches at the Open Platform.
1952: The Social Hall, which stood between the road to the hill bunks and
      the top of the hill, down the road from the infirmary, had a fire sometime
      before the season started. All that remained after the fire was the
      fieldstone foundation. By 19xx, only the chimney remained.

1953: No visiting day - polio epidemic, we waved to our parents from a distance.
1953: At Wyandot camper Marian Cuca dies of polio.

1954: During the red baiting witch hunts of the early 1950's New York State investigated
      the I.W.O. and succeeded in their goal of liquidating the Order. A legal determination
      was made declaring that Camp Kinderland was not part of the I.W.O. It has remained to
      this day an independent entity run as a not for profit organization.
1954: The Waterfront is completed by lifeguard Label Shulman and Pop Warner.
1954: The last season for Wyandot.

1955: April 12: The Salk Polio vaccine is approved by the FDA.
1955: The Youth Group builds more benches at the Open Platform.
1955: Many Wyandot campers come to Kinderland.
1955: Pete Seeger chops a log in the Casino. He sings "Take this Hammer."
      Take this hammer (huh!) carry it to the captain (huh!)

1956: The oldest group is now called the CITs (Counselors In Training).
1956: The Workgroup (One year younger than the CITs) builds a fence
      along the road down to the casino. Why did we do that?
1956: The first UN peace Olympics.
      The teams are: US, USSR, England, France, Israel and India.
1956: Morris Salz and Dave Glaser open camp Trywoodie.

1959: To make the Recreation Hall (old bunk A and B) A "better place"
      Mike Stein and Paul McGowan remove the rafters (actually the ceiling joists).
      The following winter Kinderland acquires an additional open platform.
1964: CIT program expands to 2 years.

1969: The ceiling in the dining room cracks.
      Motor boats are allowed on the lake.
      The handwriting is on the wall.

1971: Lyber Katz, Sam Shapiro, Lester Simon, Monnie Itzkowitz and ELsie Suller
      look for another site for Camp.

      The camp site on Sylvan Lake is closed and sold because:
      1) Taxes were getting higher and the property was only used for 2 months a year.
      2) Some people who had loaned money to purchase the camp wanted their money returned.
      3) The Sylvan Lake area had become a bedroom community for NYC and
         builders were offering a high price for the property.
      4) There was not enough money to maintain the premises.

1972: January 1. The pianos, the pots and cooking utensils, the costumes,
      and other stuff is removed and stored. A collection of books is left behind.
      The liberation crew of 17 consisted of:
         Laura Friedman and Paul Shneyer
         Harriet, Jody and Ruby Holtzman
         Fay, Monie and Randy Itzkowitz 
         Lyber and Elaine Katz
         Julie Nemetz
         Jeremy Schneider
         Jane Schreiber
         Edith Segal and Sam Kamen
         Lester and Maddy Simon

1972: Camp Kinderland opens in Fitchville, CT.
      One of the reasons we only stayed in Fitchville for one year is that the camp was in
      an anti-semitic community. There was a bridge over the river the campers swam in and
      hoodlums from the community would come onto the bridge and throw rocks at the kids
      while they swam. We established a night watch to guard the camp.

1973-1975: Camp Kinderland opens in Honesdale, PA.

1973 or 1974: Edith Segal's last year, Amy Tobol becomes the dance instructor.

1976: Camp Kinderland opens in Tolland, Mass.

1979: 56th anniversary, Felt Forum, Madison Square Garden, 1st yearbook.
1998: May 15, 75th anniversary reunion, Lehman College, 2nd yearbook.

2005: West coast reunion at Asilomar.

Is anything important missing??

To Previous       Back to the home page