Camp Tamiment, a summer resort for socialists and their families, near Bushkill, Pennsylvania, on Lake Tamiment, in the Pocono Mountains, opened in the summer of 1921. Bordering the grounds of Unity House (the resort run by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, which had opened the previous year), the Camp was the brainchild of Mrs. Bertha Mailly, Executive Secretary of the Rand School of Social Science (a school for workers in New York City that was closely allied with the Socialist Party). It was founded for two purposes: to serve as a summer retreat--with educational and cultural offerings as well as recreation--for faculty, students, and friends of the School, and to provide a reliable source of revenue for the School. It was owned and operated by The People's Educational Camp Society (PECS), a corporation created by the School for the sole purpose of administering the Camp.
By the late 1920s the Camp, which was intended for adults, came to include a bungalow colony, "Sandyville," on the same grounds, that housed families. It also was home to a theater, the Tamiment Playhouse, which became a major creative outlet for theater, dance, film, and television of the mid-twentieth century--in particular comedy. Actors such as Danny Kaye, Dick Shawn, Bea Arthur, Imogene Coca, and Carol Burnett, director and producer Max L. Liebman, choreographers and dancers such as Jerome Robbins and Anita Alvarez, and writers Woody Allen and Neil Simon are a small sample of the major entertainment figures nurtured at Camp Tamiment.
When it opened, the Camp was heralded as the "largest summer school and camp for workers in the world." But though summer classes were held at the Camp through the 1930s, they steadily lost their popularity as an attraction. Increasingly the Camp drew a more middle-class clientele and came to resemble a mainstream resort.
From its beginning Camp Tamiment was a successful--and profitable--enterprise. Indeed, it was able to provide the majority of the Rand School's financial support between 1937 and 1956. But Tamiment's success may have also been its downfall, for it attracted the attention of the Internal Revenue Service, which revoked the Camp's tax exempt status in 1963. This action contributed directly to the Camp's demise; two years afterwards it closed its doors and was sold to commercial interests. The Rand School, deprived of its major source of income, also folded soon thereafter.