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Top Left: Bob and Joan Lipsitz: Double JJ owners and operators.
Bottom Left: The Chuck Wagon is grub central at the Double JJ.
Above: Calico Town: A slice of the old West, on the ranch grounds.
and when nobody else bought it, I
did," said Mr. Lipsitz, who began his
career at Tamarack on the kitchen
staff and left as associate executive
director. He said the Double JJ's an-
nual revenues range in the millions.
The Lipsitzes are the ranch's
fourth owners in its 58 years. Their
two children, Brian, 11, and Michael,
9, live at the Double JJ all summer.
But their vision of a family camp
that would encourage the kind of "to-
getherness" for which the Detroit
Jewish community's Fresh Air So-
ciety camps are known quickly fad-
ed in the face of protests. Habitues
of the place — those who visited and
worked at the Double JJ since it
opened in the late 1930s — made
it clear they liked it just the way it
was, Mr. Lipsitz said.
Notwithstanding fairly extensive
off-ranch building, the only changes
made were buying new beds for the
cabins and opening the horseback
riding to guests year round.
Wayne Richard of Windsor is un-
happy with the subtler changes at
He's been vacationing at the Dou-
ble JJ for 20 years. This year, he vis-
ited the ranch no less than six times,
although he doesn't ride.
"I love this place," he said. "But
they're turning this into a corporate
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„ • ,
mecca." He mentioned the replace-
ment of rock 'n' roll with country-
western music as one upsetting
Yet the corporatization of the
place is not at all evident on the
grounds of the ranch, where time
seems to have stood still for nearly
Double II guests
plan reunions with
60 years. Although the buildings, for
example, are now heated for cold-
weather use, they still contain an in-
tractable and not unappealing
mustiness. The Wagon Wheel's
wooden ceiling beams are painted
with old-fashioned homilies like, "To
Have a Friend, Be One" and "There
Are No Problems — Just Opportu-
Mr. Lipsitz said 30 percent of the
ranch's business is from corporate
team-building retreats or golf out-
Wally Wojack, part-owner of the
Double JJ, believes the ranch is the
same as it always was.
"That's what I like about the
place," he said. "When you come
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here, it doesn't matter if you're a rich
man or a poor man."
There are signs of progress. On
the grounds about a mile away is the
"New Frontier," a $1 million expan-
sion project that features the award-
winning Thoroughbred Golf Course,
which opened two years ago, condo-
miniums set into the woods along-
side the course, and the Loft, a hotel
open to Double JJ guests. A new con-
vention center/restaurant is sched-
uled to open early next year.
Mr. Wojack, 67, sold his company
in Canton, Ohio, eight years ago and
invested in the Double JJ. He said
he envisions another golf course, an
indoor riding resort and a children's
"We expect this to be a destina-
tion resort for the family in the next
decade," he said.
Bob Lipsitz, 43, said he is already
planning a children's camp across
the lake that could be open as ear-
ly as next summer.
Campers will have a dawn-to-
dusk schedule featuring sports,
games — like the ice-cream truck
raids that Tamarack campers know
and love — and singing and story-
telling around the campfire.
Joan Lipsitz, 38, said friends from
their Tamarack days regularly visit
the Double JJ. But she pointed out,
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with some delicacy, that it doesn't
tend to attract suburbanites who like
their food low-fat and their exercise
high-impact. And, she added, the
ranch doesn't want people with
overblown expectations moping
around because of the bare-bones ac-
commodations and basic cuisine.
Even without a formal advertis-
ing campaign — last season was the
first time the Double JJ ran a small
ad in AAA's Michigan Living it
had its best season ever, Joan Lip-
She estimated that 35,000 people
visited the Double JJ and Thor-
oughbred Golf Course last summer.
"Every year it seems to get bet-
ter," she said. ❑
IT The Double JJ closed its
overnight facilities Oct 31, but
the dining and recreation halls
are open for use all year, as is
the Thoroughbred Golf Course
and its convention center and
overnight facilities. The cost
ranges from about $200 for a
two-night stay at the Double JJ,
including food and all activities,
to about $700 for a week-long
stay in a Homestead condo off
the golf course. For information,
call (616) 894-4444.