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  • Judy Wein

Remembering Camp Ideal

Greetings from Camp Ideal

Camp Ideal over the generations, TOP LEFT, BOTTOM LEFT: 1950s, MIDDLE, TOP RIGHT: 2000s, BOTTOM RIGHT: 1970s

1960s - The years I spent at Camp Ideal are very fresh in my mind, even though the time attending and working there were long, long ago.

I remember packing my metal lunch box, securing my hat (as we had to wear a hat), putting on sun tan lotion, and waiting excitedly to be picked up for Camp Ideal, where I experienced some of the most fun and exciting summers of my early youth. Everyone was welcome, and everyone came! Camp Ideal offered excellent programming and a wide range of activities that we all enjoyed. Also, there were no other camps at that time to compete with, like sporting, music or arts camps, sleep away camps that are available now.

Camp Ideal 1966, pictured left to right, FRONT: ???, ???, Gertrude Ann Piser Feldman, Posi Medow, Judy Peltz Wein,

BACK: Posey Firestein (Rose), Amy Murdock, ???, Vicki Roland, ???, ??? - see a familiar face, let us know

Our days were full! Mr. and Mrs. Natkow ran a tight schedule, and we thrived on the routine. We were dropped off in the Sinai Synagogue parking lot where Mrs. Natkow was on a megaphone directing traffic. Then we boarded the bus to Clear Lake, and sang songs for the entire ride. As we made the final approach down the road to the beach, we would break in to the Camp Ideal song: We welcome you to Camp Ideal, we’re Mighty glad you’re here, we’ll send the air reverberating with a mighty cheer, we’ll sing you in! We’ll sing you out! To you, we’ll raise a might shout: Hail, Hail, the gangs all hear as we welcome you to our Camp, “IDEAL!!”

After arriving, we stored our lunch boxes, raised the flag and pledged allegiance. Then came swimming lessons, arts and crafts, and other activities. At lunchtime, we shared and swapped lunch items. We learned that some campers kept kosher and could not share, while others detested their lunch and would do anything to give it away. Following lunch came a real favorite - game time or rest hour! Then came afternoon activities like free swim or other water games, boating, and fishing.

At the end of each day, we again gathered at the flag pole, sang “Taps” (both in Hebrew and in English), lowered the flag, boarded the buses, and again, in full singing mode, traveled back to Sinai Synagogue. As each session drew to an end, we looked forward to the cook outs that included hotdogs, chips, and sliced watermelon.

Camp Ideal returned to my life during college, when I became the Waterfront Director for two years. Many of my childhood and camp friends were also counselors. Things were quite different as staff - we wondered how all of our camp activities could have been carried out in such a limited space!

My experiences as camper and a staffer at Camp Ideal were invaluable, and clearly remain as very fond memories. I taught all the Camp Ideal songs to my children, and now sing them to my new grandson. The giggles are worth the effort!

Do you have a favorite memory from your days at Jewish summer camp? Let us know! Send us an email and tell us your story, or share your favorite photograph to our Dropbox (no account required). You can also drop off physical photographs in person at the Jewish Federation during normal business hours. We'd love to keep a record of your memories!

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