Tom Clancy’s estate was once a Jewish summer camp

Best-selling author Tom Clancy’s estate in Calvert County, Maryland, was built on the site of a former summer camp.

The late author’s property was once home to Camp Kaufmann, a Chesapeake Bay camp near Plum Point, Maryland, which served more than 20,000 Jewish children from Washington between 1952 and 1984. The above photo from the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (I found it here) was one of the few photos I could find of the camp.

Word has it Clancy wasn’t too nostalgic about the waterfront property’s previous life as a Jewish camp. According to a post on a Yahoo! Group by a poster named Ellen Kaplan:

“When I met him a few years ago and asked about the camp and told of my fond memories his retort was, ‘I love it when all you Buffy’s and Skippy’s drive up to the property in your Volvos and I meet you at the door with my shot gun and tell you to get the hell off my property!’ I don’t think he was kidding.”

Below is a photo of the property from Google Maps.

tomclancyhouse

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.

14 Comments

  1. I have pics of Camp Kaufmann. I went there for 4 years in the late 70’s early 80’s. I also went back after Tom bought the property with a camp mate. We jumped the fence and everything was just as it was, all the bunks were still there. We had a great time reliving some good memories. It wasn’t until we jumped the fence again to leave did his security team drive up to us and say we can’t be here. I said we spent the last three hours there and you guys need better security. I can send you pics if you still want them.
    Brett

    1. Awesome! I was there in the ’60s & early ’70s. Camper 5yrs, Waiter, Jr. Counselor.

      Allen Bernstein originally of Langley Park Maryland

  2. Does anyone have the words to the songs? I had them and I lost them.
    Am writing a book about the camp.
    Thanks

  3. Matt, I attended Kaufmann at the same time period you did and would love to see what pics you have of the place . Thanks so much! Shelli, looking forward to your book.

  4. I only went there one summer in the mid sixties, but I vaguely remember this:
    K is for Kaufmann and that we all know
    And A for acceptance of friends that we love
    U understanding between you and me
    And F is for friendship the way it should be
    M is the magic we feel everywhere
    And A….of things that we share
    Two Ns are castles we build in the sand
    The dreamworld we live in at our Kaufmann Camp
    Together, together…
    No mortals on earth are as happy as we
    …And then I can’t remember the rest.

    I learned how to swim there.
    I remember the jellyfish in the ocean and the one inch sharks teeth that were more prevalent then.
    I remember feeling so great after winning a game of air hockey against a really cute boy!
    I also remember how fun it was to play tether ball.
    We wrote postcards and mailed them with 4 cent stamps.
    The day before camp was over, someone from the other cabin opened the bathroom door too quickly and ripped off my great toenail. I spent the night in the infirmary. Perhaps that’s why I never got to go back…

    One of my cabin mates was Betty Berman. She was a very nice person who suffered pain from warts on her hand. She taught me a limerick using her name:

    “Betty Berman bought some butter,
    But she said, ‘This butter’s bitter’
    So she put it in the batter, and it made the batter bitter.
    Then she bought some better butter,
    Put it in the bitter batter, and it made the bitter batter better!”

    Memory is a funny thing!

  5. I also went there in the late 70s early 80s. I would love to see photos too. I remember learning to swim, bug juice, color wars, shark teeth, dances on the basketball court, snakes in the bunk, so many fun things. My email is amyjillsommers@gmail.com

  6. I was there in ’81 only (but probably at same time as Brett, Matt, and Amy). I wouldn’t mind seeing those pictures that Brett took either. I remember the following:
    – dances on the basketball court (somehow “Stairway to Heaven” was one of the songs…odd)
    – a “Cabin cleanliness competition which we almost won but got ripped off by the inspector docking us a point unfairly…so I swore in his face and got in trouble
    – a “relay sports race” which we would do an athletic event (make free throws, throw a football through a hoop, etc…then run to the next event). First cabin to complete everything won. I did the lacrosse shot competition and nailed it on the 2nd try but got blamed for a close loss (no respect at all)
    – someone reading my private postcards out loud to entire cabin (did I mention “no respect”)
    I ended up going to Camp Friendship in Virginia the next several years and enjoying it more. Summer camp wasn’t for me but hopefully some of y’all had some memories stirred up by the above.

  7. My brother and I went there in the 50s. I have some home movies from visitors’ day, when my parents came to see us. My best friend then, Susan Letvin, and I had a great time at Camp Kaufmann.

  8. Well Karen hello my name is Matthew Tunis I was a camper in the late 70’s however I am very interested to possibly see your home movies, because Susan Letvin was my Aunt Sue and my mom was Judith Letvin. What a coincidence

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