The New York Ride‘s weekend retreat will take place on the grounds of Camp Kinder Ring, a Jewish summer camp located in Hopewell Junction, New York. Aside from being a beautiful and fun setting for the Shabbaton and start of the Ride, Camp Kinder Ring has a very interesting and unusual history.
Camp Kinder Ring was started in 1927 by The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, an organization founded in 1900 by Jewish immigrants in New York and still active today, with members across North America. As the number of Eastern European Jews immigrating to the United States grew drastically near the end of the 1800s, it became clear that there was a real need for an organization that would work to preserve the Jewish culture and identity, and to unify the community against the challenges facing new American immigrants. Der Arbeter Ring, or The Workmen’s Circle in English, was founded to meet these challenges, and has evolved with time to adjust to the changing situation of American Jews, while remaining true to its founding principles of Jewish community, the promotion of an enlightened Jewish culture, and social justice.
Throughout the last century, The Workmen’s Circle has operated a variety of different programs and institutions, from schools to health clinics to education centers. Their summer camp is one of their longest-running programs. Camp Kinder Ring was started in 1927 on Lake Sylvie, but was actually created as a replacement for another camp previously operated by The Workmen’s Circle and located nearby, called Camp Kinderland. Camp Kinderland was run by some of the more leftist members of The Workmen’s Circle, and The Workmen’s Circle pulled away from Kinderland and founded Kinder Ring when many of the members became upset by Kinderland’s Communist ties. (The members running Kinderland broke off from The Workmen’s Circle several years later to begin the Communist-Party affiliated International Workers Order. When the IWO was shut down by the government in 1954, Kinderland became independent but maintained its left-wing politics, leading it to its eventual McCarthy era investigation.)
Camp Kinder Ring has been run in its original location on Sylvan Lake ever since 1927, and many families have attended for up to four generations. The camp shares the progressive Jewish values of its founding organization, and focuses on educating campers about Jewish traditions and culture. On the weekend retreat, Ride participants will have plenty of time to wander the grounds of Kinder Ring, and from the sings that are written is Yiddish, English and Hebrew to some of the older camp buildings, will be able to take in the parts of the camp that connect it to its very unique history.