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Old 05-28-2010, 05:30 PM   #1
Marty Baicker
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Happy 75th Anniversary Wel-Met Camps!

Hi Everyone:

On May 31, 1935, the Metropolitan Jewish Centers Camp Association, Inc. was founded by representatives of Jewish Community Centers in the New York City/ Westchester County area. The purpose of the camp was to "encourage and provide for children and young people, recreational, health, and character building opportunities through the establishment and maintenance of a summer camp for children." Wel-Met Camps, as it became known (the name is a derivation of the Metropolitan Section of the Jewish Welfare fund to which the camp was affiliated), opened in the summer of 1935 with 75 boys enrolled at a cost to their parents of $12 per week!. Wel-Met's first location was on rented land at Lake Tiorati in Bear Mountain State Park. By 1944, Wel-Met had outgrown the site at Tiorati and purchased Camp Utopia at Narrowsburg, New York from the Liebow family of Brooklyn for $90,000. The Liebows used the proceeds from the sale to purchase another camp which they also called Utopia. After a family illness disrupted their plans, the Liebow's sold the second Camp Utopia to Wel-Met in 1954 for $200,000. This became the Barryville Division (the best division!). In 1957, Silver Lake was added on the site of the former Silver Lake Farms Hotel, a vacation resort.

Happy 75th!

Didn't want to let this date pass without marking the occasion. Hope we all can get together again soon.

Marty Baicker
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Old 05-31-2010, 12:59 AM   #2
Michael Ohlstein
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42 years later in 1977, (Wel-Met’s last year of operation) I made $10 per week as a counselor.
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Old 06-02-2010, 05:32 PM   #3
mark rothstein
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Thanks for the history lesson :-) I raise a (paper) cup of bug juice to Wel-Met and its campers!
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Old 06-11-2010, 09:50 AM   #4
Cliff Ageloff
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Did not know about Camp Utopia...quite a progressive/hip name for a camp....very interesting - hope all the Wel-Met diaspora is healthy and happily anticipating a great summer 2010.
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Old 06-27-2010, 07:18 PM   #5
Marty Guttman
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I worked in 1967 and 1968. I made $17.50 a week. Michael I think you were cheated.
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:20 PM   #6
Michael Ohlstein
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By '77 they were pretty broke. I think that the kitchen staff made a little more....
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Old 06-30-2010, 04:30 PM   #7
BennyWax
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Camp Utopia

Even today under the Wel Met brown paint on the admin building at Narrowsburg, you can still barely make out the original lettering of Camp Utopia. That place has been so special for many generations and a ton of people
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Old 08-09-2010, 11:09 PM   #8
MFisher
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It might have been a happy anniversary if they'd stayed around.
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:15 PM   #9
DavidG
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Interesting History

Those dates are interesting because if you walked straight out from the main dining room towards unit 3 was it there was a stone gateway that had the year 1938 on it. So perhaps that means that the camp was administratively formed in 1935, but didn't actually have a camp until 1938 in that other location, and then moved to Utopia in 1944. Interesting name in light of what was going on at the time in Europe. I always felt that Welmet was a kind of utopia for us. Wonder what the land was part of before it was Utopia.
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:37 AM   #10
Davia Love
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Pay scale

How many weeks did we work (I guess 9 - 6 week plus 3 week sessions)? I remember distinctly that as Unit Clerk in Unit IV in both 1967 and 1968, I made $100 for the entire summer!
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:00 PM   #11
DavidG
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Hey Davia, nice to see your name......I think we in the kitchen worked 10 weeks as there was extensive cleanup between the 6 and 3 weeks and afterwards. It was strange to feel the fall weather closing in on us as we left just before Labor Day. Our high schools let out usually around June 20 or so, so we probably arrived last week of June.

Wow, your pay scale was low! Not that ours was high. In 67 and 68 dishwashers made $20 a week (head dishwasher $25) and pantry made $35 (head $40). Wel-Met should have sent our checks directly to Dan LaBarr's since that's where most of it went; that and cigarettes....
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:05 PM   #12
Davia Love
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Hi Dave! There was a lot of competition for those coveted Unit Clerk jobs!!

Happy New Year!

(P.S. I quit smoking in 1974 - figure I'd be rich today if I had invested all the money I didn't spend on cigarettes in the intervening years....but, like everything else, I didn't)
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