Camp Tamakwa is a traditional Jewish residential summer camp dating back to 1936. Over 95% of our campers are of Jewish decent and live in primarily Jewish households across North America. Our rich history, traditions and core values have religious-related practices both in our camp programming and throughout our community involvement in the off-season. Our staff is an incredible mix of previous campers as well as new staff from an amazing array of various backgrounds excited to become part of the Tamakwa family and help teach our core values.

Prayers at Meals

Every Tamakwa meal begins with a traditional camp-wide grace;  the “HaMotzi” blessing over bread in both Hebrew and English.

Friday Night Shabbat

Friday nights at Tamakwa represent a more respectful, quieter and observant evening. Campers and staff are encouraged to wash up “a bit extra” before dinner, wear cleaner-than-usual clothing to dinner and then share in a quieter dinner together in our dining hall.  Each Friday meal begins with one female cabin of campers lighting the Shabbat candles, followed by a more extensive Kiddush prayer over the bread and wine (or grape “bug” juice as we call it at camp).  A traditional Shabbat meal with homemade challah bread is always a highlight of the evening.

After dinner, all campers and staff enjoy a reflective evening at our camp Slope (or outdoor amphitheatre).  Each week one cabin group volunteers to lead our traditional Friday night services.  Campers and staff from this cabin select a contemplative topic to present to all of camp and prepare individual speeches to read and share with camp.  Speeches are followed by a moment of silence to reflect upon the week ahead, gaze upon our magnificent surroundings and then enjoy a short musical piece, typically performed by one of our staff members.  The service culminates with the reading of the 23rd Psalm, a tradition that dates back to the beginning of Tamakwa’s history.

After wishing each other a “Good Shabbat” in our main camp area, campers and staff participate in a short half-hour of quiet activities or group discussions and then reunite as an entire camp for a campfire and evening “Taps” closing ceremony song.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Lessons

For girls and boys preparing for their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, they have weekly one-on-one tutoring during the summer to practice their Torah and Haftorah portions, mostly over the phone with their synagogue rabbi or cantor.

Camp Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Each summer, a number of staff are honoured for the Camp Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrating their 13th summer at Tamakwa, including camper and staff summers.  This is an incredible long-standing tradition honouring our loyal Tamakwans.  This is a special Friday night during the summer when the recipients’ families come up to camp for the celebration.

Tzedakah / Charity

“Tzedakah” is the Hebrew word for “charity” and an important part of Tamakwa’s core values is always helping others in various ways.   Tamakwa has supported the Amici Charity for a number of years and its objective to send kids to camp who wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience the incredible atmosphere and learning environment.  Tamakwa is also a proud partner offering highly discounted spaces to Amici sponsored campers to impart on them the significant social and cultural benefits of being at summer camp.

Tamakwa also provides financial support for campers from families who required assistance.  We also provide support and assistance for campers with some physical or mental disabilities including ADD, ADHD, learning disabilities, anxiety disorders, anorexia, depression and a host of allergies including numerous anaphylactic allergies.

Charity isn’t just about giving financial or material things, but teaching kids about being charitable and educating them on any numbers of subjects, skills or activities.  All of our staff are trained on how to put our campers first, treat them appropriately and teach them not only activity skills but also how to be great citizens in our summer camp environment and outside our camp world as well.

The Off-Season

While we support a number of charities and fundraising events, many of them are Jewish/Israel-related, including, but not limited to, the UJA Walk For Israel, ORT Michigan, the Jewish National Fund, Save a Child’s Heart, “Eat Drink Give” at Mt Sinai Hospital, Leo Baeck Jewish Day School, Bialik Jewish Day School and the Robbins Hebrew Academy Day School.