Julie Trepeck Harris is helping other Jewish kids throughout Metro Detroit have the same experience that made Tamarack Camps so special to her in the first place.
As a kid, Julie Trepeck Harris was told by her parents she’d make a great lawyer.
“I always felt that I wanted to go to law school,” the 41-year-old attorney says. “That was the seed that was planted and where I ended up.”
Trepeck Harris, a senior attorney at Honigman LLP, focuses her practice on commercial and residential real estate transactions. She began her law career in Chicago after graduating from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2005.
There, she managed her own practice for six years, eventually selling the firm and moving back home to Michigan where she grew up with her husband, Billy Harris.
Those involved with Tamarack will jokingly call Trepeck Harris a “lawyer in her spare time.” That’s because most of her efforts are dedicated to serving on the board of directors at Tamarack Camps, where she serves as vice president of advancement.
Carrying on the Tamarack Tradition
As a former Tamarack camper herself, Trepeck Harris, of Bloomfield Hills, is helping other Jewish kids throughout Metro Detroit have the same experience that made Tamarack Camps so special to her in the first place.
“When I moved back here, I said I wanted to be part of the [Jewish] community,” she recalls. “I wanted to find where I can provide that value and be part of something bigger than myself.”
For Trepeck Harris, that place was Tamarack Camps. “I attended Tamarack throughout my entire childhood,” she says. “Looking back, I realize how much it shaped me and what it provided to me. I think it’s just an important part of childhood.”
Now on the board going on her seventh year, Trepeck Harris began her involvement with Tamarack Camps on the Young Adult Advisory Board, where she served for two years. Throughout the remaining years, she sat on several committees.
In her current role as vice president of advancement, Trepeck Harris oversees all of the development, fundraising and advancement of the Tamarack mission for the lay leadership side. She works closely with the camps’ internal chief advancement officer to plan, develop and guide lay leadership.
Creating meaningful experiences for children and teens is important to Trepeck Harris, who is a mother herself. “Kids spend so much time in school and they learn math, science and reading,” she explains. “But sometimes what’s lacking are the true life skills that kids learn at camp.”
Camp, she says, is a playground where kids learn teambuilding, independence, problem-solving, connection, community, friendship, confidence and leadership, among other important life skills.
Just last year, Trepeck Harris worked with Geoff Kretchmer, president of Tamarack Camps, to spearhead an effort focusing on tzedakah. Called CAMPaign for Change, it teaches kids and young adults the value of giving back and what it means to “take care of their own.”
Through the project, campers made tzedakah boxes and collected change from family, friends, neighbors and community to learn why charity matters.
Expanding Community Involvement
Through her volunteer work with Tamarack Camps, Trepeck Harris has connected with other Jewish organizations in the area as well. After being introduced to Hebrew Free Loan, she’s joining the board this year to add to her work with Tamarack Camps.
“It’s really exciting and fulfilling,” she says of the new opportunity. It allows me to stay connected with my entrepreneurial passions, business, and all other aspects and areas where Hebrew Free Loan can serve people in the community.”
In addition, Trepeck Harris and her husband are joining the Wolf II Mission to Israel this October. “We are also super excited for that,” she adds.
Yet before the mission takes place, Trepeck Harris is sending her 8-year-old son, Ethan, to Tamarack Camps for the very first time.
“This is the first time that I’ve experienced Tamarack as a parent,” she explains. “Up until this point, it’s been on the volunteer side.”
Experiencing Tamarack Camps as a parent, however, is something Trepeck Harris is looking forward to.
“I’m excited for the experiences that he’s going to have,” she says of Ethan, who will be attending the camp for a 10-day session.
“I think he’s going to come back a new person, just totally independent and confident and more understanding of tradition,” she adds of Tamarack Camps. “Being an example for Ethan is my inspiration for being a part of all of it and giving back, and it is all such a fulfilling experience.”