Organized youth camping became popular in the late nineteenth century against the backdrop of the Progressive Era. In Minnesota and across the U.S., reformers believed that offering fresh-air vacations to poor children living in crowded cities would contribute to public health. Another motive was Americanizing the children of immigrants. The earliest Jewish camps pursued the same goals, with one addition: teaching the Jewish faith.
Alice Gustava Smith, better known by her students and readers as Sister Maris Stella, taught English at the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University) in St. Paul for nearly fifty years. During that time she also published books of verse that built her reputation as a skilled and spiritual poet.
The Oak Park Home for Children (formerly the Jewish Sheltering Home for Children) at 1704–1708 Oak Park Avenue in Minneapolis, 1948. Forms part of the Sharron and Oren Steinfeldt Photography Collection at the Nathan and Theresa Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives (University of Minnesota, St. Paul).