Camp Thunderbird Philosophy & HistoryCamp Thunderbird Philosophy & History

Our Philosophy

The child-centered philosophy of Camp Thunderbird is the same now as it was when we opened in 1946. We believe in providing kids with a safe, nurturing, non-competitive environment where they can challenge themselves and gain independence. We provide the attention and support necessary to help each child cultivate his or her individuality and enhance self-esteem. Group living in our diverse community helps instill values like compromise, teamwork, respect, and tolerance. Today more than ever, kids need the opportunity to live and play in the outdoors, free from the pressures of materialism and technology. Our goal is for campers to leave Thunderbird with a sense of independence, a respect for nature, and a collection of life skills that will carry them into adulthood.

Thunderbird History

Camp History - Black and White Photo

In 1946 Gene “Speedy” Altman and his wife “Honey” established Camp Thunderbird for Boys. Speedy had worked as a social worker and summer camp director in Missouri and he and Honey had dreamed of one day running their own camp. In 1946 Speedy and Honey visited the former site of Camp Merriwyn for Girls which opened in 1927 and closed before the Second World War. The beauty of Lake Plantagenet welcomed them and they immediately knew that this was where they wanted to establish their own camp. Speedy and Honey purchased the property and in the summer of 1947, Camp Thunderbird for Boys welcomed its first group of campers.

Thunderbird Camp History

In 1969 Speedy and Honey’s daughter and son-in-law, Carol & Allen “Moe” Sigoloff, helped establish Camp Thunderbird for Girls. The following year, they took over both camps and carried on the traditions of Thunderbird for the next 40 years. During their four decades in camping, Carol and Moe helped advance the camping movement, playing active roles in the American Camp Association at local, regional and national levels. Central to their work was the idea that that every child, no matter their background, should be able to benefit from a camp experience.