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The History of Camp Mishnoah

Legend has it that Camp Mishnoah was originally located on land that was taken by the state and now lies beneath the waters of Quabbin Resevoir. Like all legends, this one is a little bit the truth and a little bit misinformation. 

In her "Report of Managing Director at the Board Meeting Friday, March 11, 1938", Miss Nellie E. Sunderman, Managing Director of the Girls Club from 1917-1940, tells the story of how Camp Mishnoah in Holland, Massachusetts came to be.

"This report would be incomplete without telling of our camps. When I came here in 1917, the Club always had closed during the summer. We began summer work by keeping the Club open during the entire year. In 1921 we opened a Day Camp at Lake Lorraine, taking the girls out by truck or trolley in the morning and bringing them back at night. The Community Chest gave us $600 to purchase a small portable building and we were allowed to use the land free of charge. The Chest also allowed $500 in our yearly budget for running expenses. The Day Camp was carried for four years, and then closed only because we had assumed the management of two boarding camps."

"In 1924 we were asked to take the responsibility of operating the Springfield Women's Club Camp Mishnoah at Southwick, and the same year we were presented the camp property in Greenwich which had belonged to the Goodwill Home for Girls. In desperation to know which job to accept, we decided to accept both and that year, 1924, and for two more years, 1925 and 1926, we operated the two camps. They were forty miles apart, required two sets of workers, two sets of books, two weekly camp parties, the care of two pieces of property, and two of everything. In 1927, feeling that this was too great an undertaking for the Club and the Managing Director, we told the Women's Club we could no longer assume the responsibility for Camp Mishnoah, and that camp was permanently closed." 

"In 1927 we continued to operate Camp Greenwich but being in the Greater Boston Water Commission area, and having outgrown our quarters there, we sold our property to the State. It was a gift to us in 1924, and in November 1927 we sold it for $10,000. With this money we bought our camp in Holland for $7,200 and with the remainder of the money we began to get the camp ready for opening in 1928. We were assisted with many gifts. The Longmeadow Women's Club gave us $75; the Business & Professional Women's Club gave us $50; the Quota Club $300; The Springfield Junior League $250; Mr. Harry Tait $450; Mrs. Herbert G. Farquhar $25; Mrs. W.H. Sanburn gave us the cook stove; the Kiwanis Club built five cabins costing about $500 each and gave us $500 for furnishings; the Rotary Club remodeled the barn for a Dining Hall; the Springfield Women's Club gave us all the furnishings we wanted from their old camp and these, with the furniture from Camp Greenwich, started us on our way. We named the new place "Camp Mishnoah" from the Women's club camp in Southwick."

In another report, this one from October 1933, Miss Sunderman describes her vision in a mission statement that, while more than 75 years old, holds true today:

AIMS OF THE CLUB

To help girls make constructive use of their leisure time which might be otherwise used in destructive or questionable pursuits.
To satisfy the natural desire for social life under good influences.
To provide a "home" center where girls may come with all their problems and ambitions
and find companionship, sympathy and understanding.
To inspire them to live honest, industrious, clean, moral lives.


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