Going to Camp

Summer Camp: A Breath of Fresh Air

A Scholarship Camper

It was 1947, and Eugene couldn’t be more excited to spend his first summer at Fresh Air Camp. His parents knew, somehow, that going to camp was the right thing for him. He was extremely fortunate to have received a scholarship that allowed him to go for just $3 a week, compared to the typical weekly cost of $21. Without that scholarship, Gene’s family would have never been able to afford to give him the experience of a lifetime.

Gene knew immediately that he was going to love the camp experience. The day was simple. You got up, you went outside, you came in for lunch and then you went back outside. Camp gave him the freedom to play with no real time constraints—and the milk and cookies were his favorite. You didn’t have a lot of choices, but the day flew by. That summer Gene experienced what it was like to get away from home, to learn to live with others. Camp gave Gene both a real sense of independence and the greatness of close friends and community.

Camp Background
“Camp created a camaraderie that became a theme throughout my life and career.”
-Eugene Applebaum
Camp Image
Camp Image
Camp image

A Lasting Memory

Gene remembered the day his mother drove him to the Jewish Community Center on Woodward Avenue to board the bus for camp. As they arrived, he read the name Aaron DeRoy on the building. Gene asked his mother, “Who is that? Why is his name on the building?” She replied, “He’s a rich Jewish man who gives back to his community.”

Something sparked within Gene, and at 10 years old, he thought to himself, 

“Someday I will be a nice Jewish man who will give back to my community.” 

His desire to give back and make the world a better place was strong from the get go, and it was solidified with camp.

Fast-forward to 1998—over 50 years since Gene’s first summer at Fresh Air Camp, now renamed Camp Tamarack. He was ready to give back to the camp that gave so much to him. To help give kids the same life-changing experience Gene had, he endowed a village, Applebaum Village, at Camp Tamarack that would house the youngest boys at camp. He was proud that Tamarack continued to provide countless scholarships for children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to experience summer camp.

More recently, Gene made another contribution to Camp Tamarack to redevelop Applebaum Village and ensure its long-term future and viability. That village was rededicated in the summer of 2016.

As a man who believed in being Jewish, Gene lived by the Torah's instruction of tzedakah. Ever since his camp experience, he knew he had a great responsibility to give back in any way possible. Throughout his life he simply wanted to share any success he had with the Jewish people. 

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Applebaum Family Office

480 Pierce Street, Suite 200

Birmingham, MI 483009

Applebaum Family Philanthropy


Andrew Echt

Director, Applebaum Family Philanthropy