Richard D. L. Fulton
Two youth camps located in Frederick and Washington counties are preparing to celebrate for their 100-year anniversaries.
Camp Louise was established in 1922 and is located at 24959 Pen Mar Road in Cascade. Camp Airy was established in 1924 and is located at 14938 Old Camp Airy Road near Thurmont. Both will be celebrating their 100th anniversaries in 2023.
Organizers were elected to hold one celebration in 2023 to commemorate the founding of both the 1922 and 1924 camps instead of holding separate celebrations.
Anniversary events to be held in 2023 include a Centennial Golf Tournament at the Worthington Manor Golf Club, 8329 Fingerboard Road, Urbana (to be held on May 19), and a Centennial Gala at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel, 700 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore (to be held on October 14). Fees to attend the events to be announced. Sponsorship slots are available for both events.
Other celebratory events to be held will be for (then) current staff and campers only and will include a Summer 2022 100th Birthday Party at Camp Louise and a Summer 2024 100th Birthday Party at Camp Airy.
Camp Louise was founded by Baltimore philanthropists, Aaron and Lillie Straus to provide a respite for young Jewish female immigrants, after the couple having observed the “cramped, sweaty factories and offices” many of the immigrants were working in, according to the camp website.
The Straus couple purchased the Cascade Melvue Hotel—subsequently dubbed the Camp Louise White House—which formed the nucleus of Camp Louise. Camp Louise quickly became “a mountain retreat where young women would come each summer for an opportunity to rest, relax, celebrate being Jewish, and learn from inspiring women role models.”
The camp website noted that the young women were able to enjoy “the freedom to try new things without judgment from their male peers” and that this, “combined with the camp’s encouraging sense of Jewish community, made it easy for girls to grow into excellent, confident community leaders.”
Due to the immediate success of the camp for young Jewish females, in 1924 the Straus couple established a second camp, Camp Airy, for young Jewish males.
Camp Airy was recently in the news for less-historic purposes than its impending 100-year anniversary when the camp dining hall was destroyed in a fire on June 29. The fire rendered the hall a total loss. More than 100 firefighters from Maryland and Pennsylvania responded to the blaze, isolating the fire to the dining hall.
It took firefighters approximately three hours to bring the fire under control, according to the Frederick County Division of Fire/Rescue Services. There were no civilian injuries reported, as the camp population was evacuated to a safer location within the camp. There were also no reported injuries to emergency responders. Firefighters continued to extinguish re-ignited hot spots among the building’s debris throughout the day into the next.
Lauren Perlin, Camps Airy and Louise co-executive director and director of development, told The Catoctin Banner that the loss was established at around $4.4 million, and that the structure will be replaced, although the timeframe for which that would occur has yet to be determined.
Loss of the Camp Airy dining hall aside, Camp management noted, previous to the fire, “To this day, Camps Airy and Louise are the only ‘brother-sister’ Jewish overnight camps in the country, and they still exist as a place for Jewish children from any economic background to get a refuge each summer.” The camp is not restricted to solely Jewish attendees.
“We know that Lillie and Aaron would be amazed at what their camps have become and proud of the legacy we still celebrate. That is why we are so excited to kick off the camps’ 100th anniversary,” management stated.
To volunteer to help with the approaching 100th anniversary celebration or serve as an event sponsor, email the Camp Louise-Camp Airy organization, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information on the 100th Anniversary celebration, visit the Camp Louise-Camp Airy organization website at airylouise.org.
To donate money toward the replacement of the lost dining hall at Camp Airy, go to the Camp Louise-Camp Airy organization donation page at airylouise.org/airy-dining-hall/.
Cascade Melvue Hotel as it appeared in the early 20th century before it was purchased by Aaron and Lillie Straus and made part of Camp Louise.
Date: 1900/1906; Source: Library of Congress
The old Cascade Melvue Hotel as it appears today, where it continues to serve as the primary building serving Camp Louise.
Source: Courtesy of Camps Airy & Louise, Baltimore