History & Heritage

For Over 100 Years

Located on a private, unspoiled lake, campers from around the world, ages 7-16, enjoy a community-oriented environment in which they can learn, grow and develop lifelong friendships. Our warm, nurturing and welcoming environment helps campers to assimilate quickly into the Modin family.

In Pursuit of an Ideal

Building a Sense of Community and Jewish Identity

Since its inception in 1922, Camp Modin has pursued an ideal. This ideal began as a desire to provide children not merely with a recreational experience, but a summer that would contribute meaningfully to a child’s balanced development. The gifted and devoted educators who founded Camp Modin applied the best of what was thought and known about helping young people to grow, and established a nurturing community on a pristine lake in the woods of Maine.

So it is today, that we have brought forward these goals and made them the cornerstones of our philosophy; to know and understand each child individually, build a sense of community, and provide an awareness of Jewish identity.

Our Mission

To provide a safe, warm and nurturing environment in which children can learn, grow and develop lifelong friendships.

Our History

Our Founder’s Vision

Camp Modin is the outgrowth of concern by several Jewish educators for the loss of Jewish identity and heritage among the rapidly assimilating children of first generation American Jews. In the winter of 1921 educators Albert and Bertha Schoolman proposed to colleagues Alexander and Julia Dushkin that they join them in establishing a private Jewish summer camp where children of all degrees of belief could learn Jewish values in a free, relaxed atmosphere with their peers. The two couples joined with Isaac and Libbie Berkson, themselves educators, and the following year established Camp Modin as “The Camp with a Jewish Idea”. “Modin” takes its name from “Modi’in” (pronounced mo-de-een) which is the name of the biblical town where the Maccabees—the central characters from the story of Chanukah—resided.

That first summer the group gathered 45 boys on the banks of spring-fed Lake George in Central Maine, about one hour west of Bangor. The following season, Modin was “swamped” with 110 boys. In 1925 on a site across the lake Camp Modin for Girls officially opened. Their experiment succeeded in creating a haven where children could develop their identities as members of a Jewish community, forge lifelong friendships, and escape the threat of polio in the aftermath of World War I.

Wrote Alexander Dushkin, one of Modin’s founders, in his memoirs Living Bridges: “…We followed the usual curriculum of activities in summer camping—sports, games, swimming, boating and canoeing, art & crafts, horseback riding, gardening, dramatics, camp fires, overnight camp trips, and the like. We stressed nature study, the arts, and of course Jewish cultural activity. …The joyous Sabbaths, the Tisha B’Av fast day, the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs—all became occasions for teaching and community living.”

The Experiment Continues

Home to Generations of Modinites

In 1942 the Dushkins and Schoolmans sold their stake in the camp to the Berkson family who continued to run Modin until 1954 when Sam Kadison, their longtime partner, purchased the camp. Upon Sam’s passing in 1979 the mantle was placed upon the shoulders of his niece, Amy Adler and her husband David Adler who owned the camp until David’s passing in 1992. After David’s death his Director, Howard Salzberg, purchased the camp. In 1992, seeking a more modern and functional site, Camp Modin acquired a beautiful camp in Belgrade, Maine where the Modin community has continued to thrive. In 2024 Samara and Pascal Cohen purchased the camp from the Salzbergs.

The Modin community has continued to evolve over the years and today stands as one of the premier Jewish summer camping institutions in the country. In some families, three and even four generations have spent the most important and memorable summers of their lives at Modin. Such longevity stems not only by providing top-notch facilities, quality programming and well-trained staff, but through the continued pursuit of Jewish ideals and the fostering of individuality, community, growth and lifelong friendships.

A Deep Regard for the Individual

Building a Sense of Pride and Accomplishment

How does a camp express its concern for the individual? By tailoring the program to meet the child’s personal needs, not by conveniently forcing him or her into a rigid program schedule. At Modin, we encourage our campers to make choices, take risks and accept new challenges.

Often it is wise to let children establish their strengths first in something they already know and feel comfortable doing. With guidance and nurturing, our children are then encouraged to try new things. As the child progresses and achieves, there is growth: mastering skills surpasses simple recreation. Every moment at Camp is a learning situation: we know that as children learn to swim, to climb, to perform, they also learn to persevere—to accept guidance, to make choices, and, in so doing, discover what makes them unique. This is the heart of individual growth.


Dedicated Staff

Carefully Chosen, Highly Trained Professionals

Our staff play a fundamental role in the Modin community, and are essential to achieving the goals underlying our philosophy. Each summer, we gather a group of dedicated individuals who’s main objective is to make a positive and memorable contribution to the lives of children.

Staff members are professional educators and mature college students who distinguish themselves through individual accomplishment, and by their love and compassion for children. The Modin team returns year after year, many coming up through the ranks as former Modin campers.

Our counselors are carefully chosen, highly trained individuals with a wealth of camping and teaching experience. Our staff are mature—typically university-aged and beyond—making them well suited for dealing with the needs of children and young adults.

Virtually all general counselors and specialty staff live in the cabins with the campers. Thus there is always someone available to supervise, guide and care for the children. Our staff undergo an extensive training program prior to the start of each season and we work closely with them at all times.


Average Campers Per Bunk

Average Counselors Per Bunk

Cabins Per Age Group

Years Operating

Samara Lender & Pascal Cohen

Executive Directors & Owners

Born and raised in Rockland County, NY, Samara joined the Modin family in 1999 and spent five years here as a camper. She returned to Modin as a general counselor and two years later became the girls’ head counselor. Upon graduating from George Washington University, Samara was promoted to full-time assistant director before becoming the director in 2013. Samara and her husband Pascal became the full-time owners and executive directors of Camp Modin in 2024.

Pascal joined the Modin family when he married Samara in 2020. Born and raised in Munich, Germany, he grew up attending Jewish camp and ultimately became the head counselor for a Jewish youth organization. Pascal lived in Israel for 13 years and in 2018, relocated to New York City for work, where he met Samara through a Modin family. Since 2019, Pascal has spent his summers at Camp Modin. Samara and Pascal are proud parents of two daughters Romi and Leni. 

Harrison Israel

Program Director

Harrison is the full-time Program Director of Camp Modin. He began his Modin career as a camper in 2011, followed by four years as a counselor and one as the Assistant Program Director before transitioning to the full-time team. Harrison is a life-long Massachusetts resident. He works closely with the directors and the rest of the administrative team while planning day-to-day programming at Modin, organizing trips and special events, and running many of our full-camp activities, in addition to other administrative tasks.

Ilana Osten

Director of Bunk Life

Ilana grew up in Montreal and now lives in Durham, North Carolina. She attended Modin as a camper and staff member where she met lifelong friends, as well as her husband, Jason. Ilana is the proud parent of Modin campers Jamie and Corey, and Modin dog, Storm.

Ilana works closely with the directors and serves as a key member of the Administrative team who assists with staff hiring, training and mentoring, office administration, communication with parents and most importantly, the development of relationships with the campers to assist them with any needs that may arise throughout the summer and to ensure that they get the most out of their Modin experience.

Shaping Lives

"As we conclude our daughters' summers as campers, we are deeply grateful to you for being partners with us in shaping their lives. Their Modin experiences have changed their lives – and ours – for the better."
- Lisa & Joe, Sudbury, MA

Learning to Live Together

The Bonds of Friendship

Central to the camp experience is learning how to live together as a member of a group. Children of all ages mature through community awareness, because only in a group do we learn tolerance, compromise and acceptance, the skills integral to achieving personal growth. Within the group, children learn to respect others, to work as a team and to contribute to the whole. Community life affords them unique opportunities to be a part of something truly special.

So how does the group experience differ at Modin from those in the outside world? It is mainly due to the level of intensity. In camp, we live together day in, day out. This immersion cultivates in children the ability to know one another, to share our varied strengths, to offer encouragement, lend support, and gain the experience of living—and taking pride in living—in a group. The strength of the Modin community yields unprecedented opportunities for the establishment of lifelong friendships. The Modin community is intensely loyal and devoted. Long after Camp ends for the summer, we remain close and in touch. Year after year, Modin Campers return to renew these special bonds of friendship.

Our Jewish Heritage

Building a Strong Community

Our mission to build a strong community for our children is not ours alone. It is our Jewish heritage that is the source of the communal values we seek to instill in every child. Specifically, what does this mean at Modin? Ours is a pluralistic, egalitarian community, and our families come for a wide range of Jewish backgrounds, beliefs and levels of observance. Some children attend Jewish Day Schools while others attend secular ones. Some children have a limited Jewish education and others a great deal more. All are welcome at Modin.

The Jewish experience at Modin is woven into all aspects of camp life. Our kitchen and canteen are strictly kosher, and a blessing begins and ends each meal. Many children spend time working with our Judaic director on their Bar/Bat Mitzvah studies. Campers connect to their Jewish heritage through art, music and a variety of Jewish programs. Associating with adults who find profound personal meaning in their own Jewish values further enriches their Jewish experience.

Great emphasis is placed on instilling Jewish ethics and values in our campers. This is accomplished through community service projects (Tikkun Olam), teen mentoring programs and group discussions that stress the importance of responsibility and treating each other with respect. The time we devote at Modin to Jewish awareness and activity is another way of understanding the joys and responsibilities of being a member of a community.

There is a spirit (ruach) felt every day at Modin, but none more so than on Shabbat. Friday afternoon is a particularly moving time at camp when our community comes together to welcome Shabbat through song and prayer. Each week a different group of campers assists our Judaic director in leading services on our beautiful Bima overlooking majestic Salmon Lake. After services our community comes together in our expansive recreation center to enjoy a fantastic Shabbat meal full of food, friendship and freshly baked challahs! As the meal ends the singing begins and the walls reverberate with Jewish music.

Saturday morning Shabbat services are led by our Judaic director and assisted by volunteers from all age groups. The service includes both a traditional Torah service as well as a camp-wide discussion related to the parsha of the week or an appropriately themed topic such as Israel or social justice. The remainder of Shabbat includes a memorable full camp afternoon program, followed by a general swim, evening activity and finally a moving Havdalah service. Shabbat at Modin is truly magical. It provides a sense of comfort, friendship and community—the heart of the Modin experience.


The Natural Beauty of Maine

Breathtaking Wilderness to Explore

Most children live in urban or suburban settings. Despite the availability of lawns and trees, few young people have felt the awe of endless forests or an open night sky. These are the gifts that await us at Modin—a place hidden among majestic mountains and unspoiled landscapes. The Modin setting was chosen with care. Salmon Lake, on which Modin is located, represents the crown jewel of Maine’s pristine Belgrade Lakes chain.

The first journey to Modin inevitably leaves families with a life-long connection to Maine. Thousands of miles of coastline nestle picturesque seaside towns with their charming bed & breakfasts and luxury inns. Maine’s larger, thriving cities host great shopping and unparalleled culinary options with nationally acclaimed restaurants and award-winning chefs. Maine is renown for its outdoor activities. Adventure seekers will enjoy world-class whitewater rafting and hot air ballooning. Others will marvel at the breathtaking scenery while golfing on championship courses or biking down scenic byways. With all that Maine has to offer one finds themselves eager to return year after year. There is a reason they call it “Vacationland.”