Famous Alumni: Leonard Cohen, musician

Canadian singer/songwriter, musician, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen started attending summer camp as a 10-year-old in 1944 when he started going to Camp Hiawatha in the Laurentians region north of Montreal and became a counselor at Camp Sunshine, a Jewish community camp, in 1950.

While at Camp Sunshine, one of Cohen’s closest friends Alfie Magerman introduced him to The People’s Songbook, a collection of folk and protest songs that had a profound influence on Cohen’s songwriting, according to the 1996 Cohen biography Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen.

Cohen also served as a counselor at a B’nai B’rith camp near Ottwa in the Gatineau hills in 1955 and at Pripstein’s Camp Mishmar, according to the book. Cohen is the third from the left in the back row of the above photo, taken at Camp Mishmar when he was 24 years old.

Cohen is one of many celebrity summer camp alumni in our ever-growing Famous Alumni list. If you have additions to the list, please email info@summercampculture.com.

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at Tangzine.com and MatthewRalph.com. I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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