Currently viewing the tag: "Camp Airy"

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 For additional information on the 100th Anniversary celebration, visit the Camp Louise-Camp Airy organization website at

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

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

BY Dan Neuland

The 79th Annual Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock (BOJC) Campfire Weekend was held at Camp Airy in Thurmont on May 17-19, 2019. The camp hosted a total of 365 attendees, which included 179 boys and their adult sponsors from 16 different states. A total of 44 boys were new to the program this year. The camp is located near several excellent local trout streams and has two spring-fed stocked ponds on site that are stocked with trout for the annual event.

Briefly, the BOJC is an organization that was founded in 1940 in the Catoctin Mountains of Frederick County by a group of conservation-minded fly fishermen. The annual campfire weekend is designed to pass on the knowledge, the skills, and the love of the sport of angling and, particularly, fly fishing, to young men. As stated in the BOJC Creed, adult members pledge to “annually take at least one boy a-fishing, instructing him, as best we know, in the responsibilities that are soon to be wholly his.”

The BOJC is an organization that is steeped in tradition. The name chosen to represent the group comes from the waxed neck feather of the male Indian jungle fowl, a chicken-like bird, prized for its beautiful plumage. Feathers from the cape of the jungle cock have been used for salmon flies since the 19th century. A jungle cock cape feather is prominently featured in the BOJC logo worn by its members.

Bob Abraham, Sr. of Thurmont has been a member of BOJC for 61 years. It all began on a rainy spring day in 1958, when Abraham was driving through Catoctin National Park.  He saw a fly fisherman walking along the road and stopped to offer the angler a ride to his vehicle that was parked at the Camp Peniel parking lot.

Abraham was working for the Department of Natural resources as a game warden. The angler accepted the ride and introduced himself as Gurney Godfrey from Baltimore. He informed the warden that he was in the area that weekend for the Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock Campfire being held nearby at Camp Airy in Thurmont. “Gurney held his fly rod out of the vehicle window as we traveled down the road and we exchanged conversation,” said Abraham. Godfrey thanked Abraham for the ride and invited him to supper that evening at the camp.

Abraham accepted his invitation and he attended the dinner wearing his uniform. He joined BOJC that same evening sponsored by Godfrey. That chance encounter was the start of a great friendship between the two fly fisherman and the beginning of a close connection between Abraham and the BOJC program.

After joining the BOJC organization in 1958, Abraham became very active in it. He was elected to the board of directors and eventually held the position of president from 1976-77. Abraham has become the friendly and welcoming face of the organization.

Currently, at 86 years  young, he is still very active. He attends the annual BOJC weekend and he can be found stationed under a canopy between the two ponds at Camp Airy with hundreds of hand-tied flies displayed on a table for the young anglers to use. At the 2019 BOJC program, Abraham handed-out a total of 21 dozen flies! Young anglers seek out Abraham for his trusted advice on fly selection and Abraham offers his encouragement. When they are successful, they eagerly run to him to show off their prize catch and share their fish story.

Thomas Burrill, an 11-year old who lives in West Virginia, has a fish story that is worth retelling. Thomas was attending the camp for the first time with his uncle, Ron Burrill of Foxville. Using a green streamer fly tied by Abraham, the young angler hooked and landed a rainbow trout that taped out at just under 25 inches and weighed 5.5 pounds!

BOJC volunteers also sponsor an annual Wounded Veteran Fishing Event in partnership with Project Healing Waters. The Thurmont American Legion Post 168, the Taneytown Country Kitchen Restaurant, Roy Rogers, as well as the many BOJC and Project Healing Waters volunteers contributed to the success of this year’s event on May 25, 2019.

These programs at Camp Airy are high-quality experiences, thanks to volunteers who give so much of their time to share their knowledge of fishing.

The seven-year BOJC instructional program is designed for boys eight-years old or older, starting with the basics of beginning angling and taking them toward the opportunity to fish with “the masters.” It is above all, a hands-on, outdoor educational program for young men. Classes are taught by experienced adults and include conservation, fly casting, entomology, equipment maintenance, fishing knots, fly tying, rod building, and net making to name a few.

Thomas Burrill is shown with his 25-inch rainbow trout with Bob Abraham.

2019 Wounded Veteran fisherman and event volunteers are shown on May 25, 2019 at Camp Airy in Thurmont.