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Harand Camp History

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Harand Studios

First established in 1955, Harand Camp's unique method of teaching has helped countless alumni develop poise and confidence. Harand began as a Chicago children's studio founded by sisters Sulie & Pearl Harand. Pearl, a former member of the Chicago Repertory Theatre, taught drama, while Sulie, known for her incomparable one-woman interpretations of classic musicals, taught voice. Other staff included Byrne & Joyce Piven, (who would later found the Piven Theatre Workshop), and Chicago's future Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, Lois Weisberg.

The curriculum focused on musical theater with an emphasis on the community spirit and equal opportunity for which they would later become known.
The studio was also the FIRST to combine training in all three musical theater disciplines singing, dancing & acting. Pearl once told the Chicago Reader: 

"the dream [had] always been to have a place where kids can laugh and play, where they can develop their whole personality while learning through shared experiences."

Harand Studio Brochure Cover (circa 1952
Harand Studio Brochure inside

Harand Camp in Elkhart Lake

Harand Camp Founders Sulie Pearl Byron Sam

Founders Pearl Harand, Sam Gaffin, Byron Friedman, Sulie Harand

Harand has also been able to set itself apart from other arts camps by adhering to a philosophy of inclusion and a non-competitive spirit - placing a premium on social development and holding firm to its commitment to sharing lead roles & the ideals of "No Man Is an Island." Sulie said they wanted to "give children the ability to live with other people and not feel someone else has to fail for them to succeed."

This philosophy has generated support from alumni such as Lois Weisberg, former Commissioner of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs, who stated: 

"the Harand approach should be reinvented today in the public schools. Their model is an extraordinary model for teaching."

Sulie Byron Pearl Elkhart

Led by Sulie and Pearl, with husbands Byron and Sam, the camp opened its doors in 1955 in Elkhart Lake, WI. Campers were divided into groups designated by names of shows and became known as "Haranders." The curriculum struck a balance between the arts and traditional camp activities. Harand Camp alum Jeremy Piven told the Chicago Reader: 

"how many places in the world can you go to as a kid and get fulfillment performing in plays without all the politics - and still get to play sports all day long?"

Jeremy Piven at Harand Camp

Jeremy Piven at Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts in the 1980s

Harand on the Move

In 1989 the Harand family sold the camp property in Elkhart Lake; however, the camp continued to live on and moved to Wayland Academy, a preparatory school in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Though the property was rented and there were no buildings to call their own, the traditions and philosophy remained. In 2005 the camp relocated to Carthage College in Kenosha proving, once again that, when it comes to Harand 

"home is where the heart is."

Founders Sulie Harand, Byron Friedman and Pearl Harand

Harand Camp Founders

Sulie Harand

Sulie Harand

Sulie Harand (1919 - 2016) studied opera at a young age with Richard DeYoung at the American Conservatory of Music, and was coached by Kurt Herbert Adler, who became the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Opera. She won contests in Chicago movie houses and radio shows, culminating in a long run at the Oriental Theatre. Sulie played clubs across the Midwest, performing tributes to Grace Moore, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and others. She quickly turned to musical theatre and established an enviable reputation with her one-woman-shows where she would become many characters in a single performance without changing costume. Traveling all over the country with 39 different shows in her repertoire, Sulie brought laughter, tears, and beauty to the stage. In 1962, Sulie was granted a private audition at New York's Carnegie Hall with composer Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls) and Broadway producer Stuart Ostrow. Though she was offered a starring role, Sulie declined because she did not want to be away from her family for so long. While she continued performing, Sulie opened the Harand Studios of the Theatre Arts with her sister Pearl, which later expanded to include Harand Camp.

Pearl Harand

Pearl Harand

Pearl Harand (1915-1999) began as a great actress, comedienne and folk singer and was a member of the Chicago Repertory Theatre alongside Studs Terkel and Nate Davis. She also studied literature and took theatre courses at Northwestern University. Pearl later married Sam Gaffin, who would become bookkeeper, chef and scuba diving instructor at Harand Camp, and they had two daughters, Nora (Co-Director of Harand Camp and Head of Drama Department) and Janice (Co- Director of Harand Camp and Camp Nurse). While Sulie was doing her one- woman musicals, Pearl was writing original material, first for nightclubs and then for weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, and well known organizations around the country. She would tailor make the material into comic sketches and songs and later Pearl performed one-woman shows such as the story of Molly Picon and Fiddler on the Roof. Pearl founded the studios and camp with Sulie and their husbands, where she headed the Drama Department, coordinated costumes and tech, and ran the business office with Byron and Sam. She passed away in 1999, a second mother to many alumni.

Byron Friedman

Byron Friedman

Byron Friedman (1915-1994) passed away in Beaver Dam at camp in 1994. He received his Bachelors in Psychology, studied social work, and also served with the First Marine Division in the South Pacific during WWII. Though his first job after the war was as a Vice President with American Tobacco Company, Byron decided to be Sulie's business manager, and when Sulie and Pearl opened the Harand Studios of Theatre Arts, Byron became the administrator. At one time he was the President of the Chicago chapter of ANTA (American National Theatre Academy). Byron was also a loving and devoted husband to Sulie, and was proud to be her greatest fan. Fondly known as "Big Toe" or "Uncle Byron" to many alumni, his loving personality combined with his psychology background prepared him well for his unforgettable role as the beloved Camp Director.

Sam Gaffin

Sam Gaffin and Pearl Harand

A First Sergeant in WWII, Sam Gaffin (1915-1979) was a member of the Chicago Repertory Theater, but not at the same time as Pearl. They just missed each other but wound up marrying and having two daughters. He first worked with Byron at the American Tobacco Company as a salesman, and at camp, taught scuba diving and other athletics, ran the bookkeeping, and later went to culinary school and became the camp's Chef, replacing Rollie. Sam also worked side by side at the office with Byron and Pearl and alumni remember how "Uncle Sam" would sit quietly on the side porch of Wonderful Town smoking his pipe, and often shooting the breeze with the guys. And on Sundays, he would do a cook out, with hamburgers, bratwurst, and all the trimmings. A calm confidence, always ready to listen, Uncle Sam was loved by all. He passed away in 1979.

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