History

GAREZERS – “FOR GOD AND LATVIA

The name “Garezers” simply means “Long Lake” in Latvian.

Mission statement:

Garezers prospers as a meeting place for Latvians of all ages, to raise and educate Latvian youth, to strengthen the Latvian language, culture and spiritual values, to promote the Latvian way of life and develop links with Latvia.

Garezers was founded in 1965.

Formerly “Camp Lone Tree,” the 169 acre property was purchased from the Chicago Girl Scout Council in 1965. This spot was chosen because of its central location, within driving distance of the largest Latvian communities in the midwest, including Kalamazoo, Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Milwaukee.

Latvian Center Garezers, Inc. is a nonprofit, shareholder-owned organization. Every summer Garezers operates four children’s programs: a day care, children’s camp, middle school, and summer high school. Over 300 kids participate in these programs, which offer Latvian language immersion, cultural studies, sports and activities.

The 169-acre property includes more than 50 buildings, all with Latvian names, and many built by Garezers volunteers. The open-air church, lakefront beach, Song Valley ampitheater, volleyball courts and shooting range are just some of Garezers’ popular features.

Activities held at the Latvian center include outdoor church services, a variety of concerts, art exhibits, and an annual volleyball tournament. The center is also a popular place for Latvians to spend vacations, celebrate holidays, and host birthdays, weddings, etc. During the course of a typical summer, over 2000 people visit the center, taking advantage of its beachfront, woods, facilities, camps, library, workshops, art gallery, museums and more.

The Latvian center is bordered by the subdivision “Ciems Latvija”, which has become a popular retirement community for older Latvians. Latvians own more than 120 homes and cottages on and around Long Lake, with many more renting tent and trailer sites here during the summer season.

We are grateful to everyone who has supported Garezers through the years!