Camp Louise was established in 1922 by Lillie and Aaron Straus to offer Baltimore's immigrant women a week's respite in the sunshine from crowded working conditions. A cottage was originally rented for these much needed, one-week, fresh-air summer vacations. Ida Sharogrodsky ("Miss Ida"), a social worker for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, was asked to supervise the camp program for these women. When the cottage rental no longer became an option, Miss Ida approached Lillie Straus – who then asked her husband Aaron – to purchase a former hotel in Cascade, Maryland as a permanent summer retreat for young women. The Melvue Hotel (currently Camp Louise's White House) was then renovated and Camp Louise was born.
Miss Ida and the Strauses saw their role in youth development as critical. Their programmatic principle was to instill values and character. Their organizing principle was that camp was good for all children, not just the ones who could afford it. Through these strongly-held beliefs, the Strauses' "camperships" insured that every child could attend Camp Louise, and that no one would ever know the financial status of a camper.
Love of the arts and recognition of children's need for expression became an early priority among the staff Miss Ida and the Strauses assembled. As such, Camp Louise stressed fine and performing arts, with productions and a dance program second to none. At the same time, camp leaders understood the importance of physical activity, and therefore athletic programs were added to the Camp Louise program.
As we near to our 100th summer, Camp Louise continues the traditions that have been part of its core. In fact, many of our campers are now fourth-generation Louise girls, with their mother, grandmother, and even great-grandmother have attended Camp Louise. Many of the traditions of the past remain – we wear white on Shabbat, folk dance on Friday evenings, and still give every girl at Camp Louise the opportunity to express herself through the numerous programs productions – drama, dance, and even athletics.