70 Years of Rich History

Camp Massad is a Hebrew-speaking Jewish and Zionist summer camp for campers aged 7 to 16 located in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec in the Laurentian Mountains. It was founded in 1947, with the creation of Massad Alef on Lac Quenouille, Quebec. At its peak Massad had nearly 400 campers.

Early history

Camp Massad was founded in 1947 by the Keren Hatarbut Ha'Ivri under the leadership of Aron Horowitz and a small group of Canadian Hebraists.Horowitz had previously founded Camp T'chiyah in Calgary in 1944, the first Hebrew-speaking summer camp. Massad's first president, Isaac Gold, invested three thousand dollars as a deposit for a camp-site at Lac Quenouille in the Laurentians. With the assistance of Gold and other philanthropists, Massad grew from a small camp-site with no pier, no level ground for sports, few showers, a short supply of drinking water, and one hall for both dining and activities.

In its first summer, Massad had eighty campers.In its second season Massad saw a 50% increase in applicants, and could only accept 150 campers.Campers were divided into four age groups: Chalutsim, Olim, Bonim, and Shomrim. Following the Histadrut HaNoar Ha'Ivri's American Massad movement, the groups were soon renamed Shoresh (roots), Geza (trunk), Anaf (branch), and Tzameret (tree-top).

1950's

With the success of Massad Alef, a second Massad camp, Massad Bet, was opened by the Keren Hatarbut in 1950 in the Muskoka region north of Toronto under the directorship of David Taub, with the assistance of Massad Alef alumni. The new camp, lacking in funding and witness to constant turnovers of camp directors, was closed in 1977. Massad Gimmel in Winnipeg was officially incorporated as a branch of the Hebrew Camps Massad of Canada in 1962.

In 1955, with backing from the Jewish Agency, Keren Hatarbut established a Machon L'Madrichim (Leadership Institute) program for youth leaders from Hebrew high schools across Canada in conjunction with Camp Massad and the Hebrew Youth Movement. The Machon program consisted of three summers of extensive training, along with the requirement of attending the National Leadership Institute in the city throughout the three years. Graduates served as leaders and counsellors in all three Massad camps, and at other Canadian Zionist youth movements. Originally, the first month of the summer program was held at Massad Bet, and the second at Massad Alef. The Machon program was moved to Massad Alef after its first year, primarily because of inadequate facilities at Massad Bet. Registration for the second year had reached fifty.

In 1958, Massad held its first trip to Israel, becoming the first Hebrew-speaking youth group from the Diaspora to have visited Israel.

In 1959, Aron Horowitz proposed the building of a second unit across the road from the original camp-site for the accommodation of Massad and Machon L'Madrichim's growth. Galil was opened in time for the 1959 season. Camps Emek and Galil were two self-sufficient camps, the former for elementary school students, the latter for high school students, who entered the Machon program at fourteen. By 1963, Emek and Galil had a total of 249 campers, 108 of whom were members of the Machon L'Madrichim. The number rose to about 370 campers in the mid-1960s.

1960s to present

In 1964 the Keren Hatarbut was absorbed by the United Zionist Council, and again by the Zionist Organization of Canada under the Canadian Zionist Federation in 1971. Massad, left without the aid of the Keren Hatarbut, lost its financial backing.Massad Alef's enrolment had fallen to sixty children in 1971, though it had picked up to ninety-five in 1973. In 1974 the Zionist Organization of Canada resolved to close Camp Massad, to the shock of camp leadership and the Canadian Jewish community.A group of Massadnik alumni led by David Finestone and Moe Bauman prevented the closure by incorporating Massad as an independent company, ensuring it would not be included in the Zionist Organization of Canada's take-over of Keren Hatarbut.

In the mid-1970s, the Galil Ulam (named after Isaac Gold) collapsed, fire had taken some bunks, and most of the facilities were in need of repair and renovation. The Canadian Zionist Federation and Allied Jewish Community rejected pleas for assistance. Nonetheless, Massad succeeded in improving its facilities and increasing enrolment. The summer of 1974 saw 143 campers and a staff of 38.

Though the camp no longer enforces total immersion of campers in Hebrew, Camp Massad remains a strongly Hebrew-speaking, Zionist camp. Along with Camp Massad in Manitoba (formerly Massad Gimmel), Camp Massad is the only remaining camp of the Massad movement and its American counterpart.