Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Abandonment Issues: Camp Yungvelt
Welcome to Camp Yungvelt, or rather bagrisn keyn Camp Yungvelt.
In 1925, The Workmen's Circle, which operated two secular Yiddish schools in Toronto, established Camp Yungvelt as an extension to the school's curriculum. For the first year, the camp was located at Lake Wilcox, north of Toronto. In 1926, the camp relocated to this location in Pickering. Itche Goldberg, an internationally renowned Yiddish poet, literary critic and author of children's books became the camp director in 1927. Goldberg was a life long activist for preserving secular Yiddish culture and language. Thousands and thousands of young Jewish children spent time at Camp Yungvelt until it closed it 1971, at which time the land was sold.
On a sunny day in January 2011, Camp Yungvelt was the second of three planned abandonment explorations for Dallas, Emceeay and myself. We approached cautiously. Rumours that the current property owner is an angry farmer willing to protect his land with a 12 gauge shotgun could not be substantiated, but they also could not be ignored.
In behind the occupied residence of said farmer, 20 or so cabins still remain. I cannot seem to find the words to explain exactly what it felt like to explore these cabins, but I'll give it my best shot. It was like time travel, or rather a glimpse into a forgotten past. It was a real world history lesson, and a remarkable experience unlike any of my other explorations. Aside from the natural decay brought on by 41 years of Mother Nature's wrath, Camp Yungvelt is frozen in the year 1971. The cabins are still furnished with couches and chairs, fridges and stoves, beds and televisions from a forgotten era. Black and white photographs give life to the cabins and put faces on some of the people that came and went many decades ago. Stacks of plates rest on tables and shelves, and ceramic teapots sit atop stoves and counters. Curtains and drapes still adorn window frames, and clothing, slippers and hats still hang from hooks on the walls and doors 41 years after the camps closure. The decay is the only thing that is current and representative of the modern era. Roofs and floors alike are collapsing in on themselves. The feces and carcasses of critters are the only signs that life has continued here.
With no further adieu, to the theme of traditional Yiddish names and their meanings, bagrisn keyn Camp Yungvelt.
Mannis (God is with us)
Meyer (He who illuminates)
Libkeh (Loved one)
Mirele (Uncertain; maybe bitter)
Hamel (Water meadow)
Mendel (One who comforts)
Antshel (Fortunate; blessed; happy)
Chayele (Alive; living)
Reyna (Pure; clean)
Yossel (He will enlarge)
Yankel (Grasp by the heel)
Rifka (To bind)
Iser (God wrestler)
At the rear of the property, after exiting the final cabin, two male voices could be heard in the forest directly in front of us. Needless to say, we made a run for it.
In 2011, one of the cabins was set ablaze by an arsonist and it burned to the ground. Rumour has it, the cabins of Camp Yungvelt were recently surrounded by a chain link fence topped with barbed wire.
Thanks for your visit, we always enjoy when you stop by. Now it is time for us to pack up and head to the cottage. Life is what you make it. I'm making it an unforgettably awesome adventure.
Please be sure to check out my brand spanking new website, where you can see all of my urban exploration and street art exploits, listen to my music, and buy my new album and tee shirts!
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES