The History of Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga …
The naming of Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga …
Bedosagay (Pet-O-Se-Ga), named in honor of the rising sun, was born to the Odawa tribe in 1787. Today, Bedosagay’s name is kept alive throughout the region as “Petoskey.”
The early years — 1934 through 1954
Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga was constructed by Jim Templin in the 1930’s. Established as a boys camp, the young men were instructed in a variety of activities including athletics, archery, riflery, orienteering, camping and aviation.
Emmet County purchased the property in 1992 to be used as a county park and, while adding modern amenities, has preserved the historic atmosphere of the camp. The park encompasses some 300 acres. There are marked nature trails throughout the park, a swimming beach on Pickerel Lake and trout fishing on Cedar Creek which bisects the property.
Facilities include 90 campsites with electricity and water, modern restrooms and showers (new in 2002), five rental cabins, playground equipment and open-field game areas. The park also has a recreation hall/multi-use building which can accommodate family reunions, weddings, receptions and meetings.
It is Emmet County’s goal to provide a memorable experience for all park visitors. We look forward to your visit with us this season and hope you will be inspired by Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga’s scenic beauty.
The middle years – 1955 through 1978
A lesser-known history of Petosega: Jewish kids’ camp
In the early 1950s, Leonard Baruch and Bertrand Sandweiss were working together at a children’s summer camp, Camp Farband, near Chelsea, Mich.
They worked so well together, they decided to open their own camp for kids in Northern Michigan. Real estate agent Herman Kays contacted the men and informed them about Camp Petosega, which upon visiting, they described as a hidden “Shangri-La.”
The purchase was finalized in 1955 and renovations began, including installation of restroom facilities in the cabins, new bedding and much more.
The first summer season began in 1956. It was an immediate success, according to Baruch, and “we thought we made the correct decision in developing a top notch summer camp for Jewish children; although there were no restrictions.”
Camping programs included horseback riding, riflery, archery, arts and crafts, baseball, football and numerous sports. “No camper could ever forget going to Mackinac Island via our cabin cruiser directly from the Camp Petosega waterfront,” Baruch noted, in a written history of this time period provided in 2010.
Another well-loved tradition was the welcoming of the Sabbath each Friday evening.
In the Spring of 1978, a fire erupted and destroyed several buildings. After surveying the damage and estimating the time it would take to reconstruct and prepare for the 1978 camp season, it became obvious to Baruch that it was time to sell the camp. Sandweiss had died unexpectedly several years prior, he noted.
“The hundreds of children and their counselors who are now parents and grandparents still maintain contact with us because of their wonderful experiences and memories,” Baruch said. “We are very proud of the campers and counselors who spent so many summers enjoying the pleasures of Camp Petosega.”
History of Camp Petosega Part One as told by Jim “Chief” Templin
History of Camp Petosega Part Two as told by Jim “Chief” Templin,