Children's Outing Association Camping

Children’s Outing Association/Camp Sidney Cohen Celebrates 100 years

By the turn of the twentieth century it had become apparent there was a need for personal services for the Jewish immigrants who were fleeing to Milwaukee from the persecutions of Russia. A settlement was opened in 1900 to teach the skills children and adults wanted to learn. A night school opened that held classes in English, the 3 R’s, American history and geography, cooking, and music. There were also classes that focused on the needs of the children. Among the needs were those of providing the children with wholesome food and fresh air some place away from the ghetto.

In 1906, the Jewish Personal Relief Society, precursor to the Children’s Outing Association and later COA Youth & Family Centers (COA), took the first eight children from the Abraham Lincoln Settlement house to a tent camp near Whitewater. The next year, COA purchased four acres along the Milwaukee River in Thiensville and the “Fresh Air Camp” for Jewish children was born.

If you are in one of these pictures, or can identify others, please let us know at Also, COA 100th Anniversary Books are available at the COA offices. Please contact Sally Kraus, COA Historian at 414-263-8383, ext. 101 for further information.

Materials in this exhibition are from the files of COA Youth & Family Centers.

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