This post originally appeared in The Jewish News on December 12, 2017.
After more than 50 years operating as Tamarack Camps Outdoor Education, the nonprofit has rebranded its year-round experiential team building, leadership training and nature appreciation programs. It will now be known as the Tamarack Adventure & Retreat Center.
“The name and logo change really help us tell our story,” said CEO of Tamarack Camps Steve Engel.
Outdoor education has always been a core aspect of Tamarack’s identity, yet this organization is on a serious mission to grow the brand, extending its services to the broader community.
Located on more than 1,100 acres in Ortonville, Tamarack Adventure & Retreat Center serves groups of all sizes and varieties. The Tamarack team now aims to increase its outreach to more schools, universities, corporate teams and recreational clubs. Personalized day programs or overnight retreats are fully customizable to accommodate everyone’s needs. Each program is specifically designed to meet a group’s goals, whether those are team building, leadership training or outdoor education, along with plenty of fun and relaxation.
The Tamarack Adventure & Retreat Center programming guide includes more than 50 activities for groups to choose from, suitable for attendees of all ages and abilities. Popular choices include raft building, zip-lining, a high ropes course, and team-building activities complete with meaningful debriefing sessions to help groups and organizations focus on their goals and aspirations. Participants can even opt for recreational activities such as archery, canoeing, hiking and fishing.
For those in the business world, team building activities have many upsides. According to experts, companies should be lining up to take advantage of the unique opportunities and setting Tamarack provides. “Offsite team building creates trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication and increases collaboration,” according to a recent business story in Forbes magazine. “Effective team building means more engaged employees, which is good for company culture and boosting the bottom line. It can also be adventurous and enjoyable if you do it with a little pizazz.”
Tamarack definitely has pizazz. “With ropes courses, zip lines, a climbing tower and more, groups rely on each other in a way that encourages trust and cooperation,” said Tracy Aronoff, director of marketing for Tamarack Camps.
Southfield-based Zoup! Fresh Soup Company has already benefited from the Tamarack Adventure & Retreat Center. “It’s sometimes hard for people to believe that a day spent canoeing or balancing between tree tops can change a team dynamic or make you a better listener and more confident leader,” Zoup! President Richard Simtob said. “But when Zoup! spent a day-and-a-half at Tamarack Adventure & Retreat Center, we saw our group challenged in so many new ways, and different teams from within our company grew closer together.”
The Tamarack Adventure & Retreat Center has full-time and seasonal staff with certifications in environmental education, team building and outdoor living skills. Mark Noble joined the team as business sales manager in August and is responsible for expanding the Tamarack Adventure & Retreat Center client reach across the entire country.
Housing options are available for those opting for an overnight stay. Groups can comfortably rest their heads at any of the recently updated winterized villages located on Tamarack’s main campus. Each village can accommodate as many as 128 guests, and there are private, central lodges within each village designed for team leaders. Visitors seeking a more luxurious setting can reserve the Butzel Retreat Center, which includes upscale sleeping quarters, full showers, a fireplace and housekeeping services.
Nutritious meals are served three times daily. Guests are provided a main course, along with a full breakfast bar and salad bar. Fresh fruit, along with a sandwich-making station featuring jelly and non-peanut butter products are available with each meal. The Tamarack kitchen abides by kosher food laws, with guidance provided by the VAAD of Metropolitan Detroit.
Along with the new name, logo and expanded outreach, Tamarack Adventure & Retreat Center is supporting its rebranding with a new website that will go live next year — tamarackadventure.com — and enhanced digital advertising and social media footprints.
While Tamarack’s mission extends beyond the Jewish community, the organization continues to stay true to its roots. “The goal is to generate revenue during the non-summer months to help us to continue to fulfill our mission of providing quality Jewish camping experiences to kids in our community, respectful of financial ability as we have done for 115 summers,” Engel said.
In addition to summertime camping and travel opportunities, Tamarack continues to host year-round Shabbatons, weddings, and bar and bat mitzvahs.