A Reader Writes: To Tip Or Not To Tip – Has It Gone Too Far?


tipDear Editor,

My fellow Matzav.com readers, no matter what kind of camp your child is attending this summer, there will be a handful of individuals – counselors, junior counselors, rabbeim, waiters – who will supervise, teach, entertain and comfort him during his time away from home. These adventurous camp counselors have signed on for a summer’s worth of kid-related fun … and challenges.

In many cases, they’re getting paid to do so. But even when their monetary compensation is lacking, camp counselors typically report that they receive a valuable internal reward – the satisfaction that comes from helping children to learn and grow. And they also report that they rely on tips from the parents.

Parents often want to show their appreciation of the counselors’ work, but it is just too expensive. I don’t think parents don’t want to tip. I think they want to, but just find it too hard.

We camp parents are paying through our noses for our children to attend camp. I fargin the camp owners to make money, but I just don’t see how I can cough up $250 in tips twice a summer on each visiting day.

The counselors have a great time in camp. If they took the job to make money, maybe they took the wrong job. Or maybe the camps should pay them appropriately and not take advantage of them. I am not sure why the burden falls on us.

The same applies to junior counselors and waiters. I mean, do I have to cover the salary of the person who serves my child food? In many camps, the waiter doesn’t receive a salary. He gets room and board and the camp relies on parents to pay the salaries of the waiters in tips. Will the camps soon be sending us a bill, asking for us to chip in to cover the recent shipment to the kitchen of beans, potatoes and carrots? Where does it end?

And as for tipping a camp rebbi, he surely deserves it, but it seems somewhat difficult to comprehend that a two-month camp rebbi who teaches a couple of hours a day receives $50 twice a summer while my son’s yeshiva rebbi, who teaches him for 10 months for many hours each day, merits a check on Chanukah and mishloach manos and Purim. It doesn’t make much sense.

It’s not that we don’t appreciate these camp employees. We do. But hasn’t the tipping thing gotten out of control?

Dear Matzav readers, shouldn’t the camps be covering the salaries of the camp employees from A to Z? Aren’t we paying more than enough in camp tuition?

A ‘Tipped Off’ Parent

Sullivan County, NY


  1. After having my children going through the camp system over the last 25 years I see your point. However now as I realize how little the camps pay their staff – tips are 75 to 100% of the money that most of the staff makes for the eight week season. If you can afford the thousands of dollars it takes to send your children to camp, than you must budget for the tips.

  2. maybe the tips should be included in the base price and the camps can pay the staff directly. whichever way you dice or slice it, it’s money that the staff deserve.

  3. I understand a camp Rebbe – he watches the kids for a few hours, and that’s it. I think the counselors are more deserving – they take care of the kids most of the day, and at night.
    I used to work in a day camp in Brooklyn. I once asked the head of the camp to increase the suggested tip for the staff members. He said no. I asked him why the cost for the camp could double over the past 6 years, but the tips stayed the same? He didn’t have an answer for me.

  4. Why can’t camps pay their staff a salary that doesn’t need to be supplemented by tips? Don’t camps charge enough as it is for kids to attend their camps? If a counselor doesn’t think he’ll earn enough in camp, then he should get a different summer job, unless, he doesn’t care how much he makes and is just going to camp for the fun, the sun and the atmosphere, which in that case, he shouldn’t be expecting tips.The learning counselors should get a decent salary as well as the main counselor the child has. The other staff should get paid too without expecting tips, after all, they get room and board, entertainment, sports etc, all included.

  5. If the camps had to pay the staff or pay them more they would have to increase tuition so you would pay it either way. I also dont think its fair to say that the staff is compensated with the richness of spending the summer in camp taking care of children. This is not a chesed activity. I think your general point is valid The stress of camp (and school) tuitions on those who cannot afford them is not being dealt with by our frum society.

  6. True true true
    We need to tip & show apreciation
    But do we releise what camp costs?
    My son called from camp telling me & my wife that due to the hard aconomy the camp will only go on ONE trip that will cost $85.00

    Please lets BAN trips nosh & junk for kids that parents spend every week lets ban unneeded
    things that kids ask for & lets tip Waiter Counsler & rebbi $18.00 each total of $54.00

    Please have pity!

  7. Tipping is a metod of showing hakoras hatov. The hired staff receive a salary and expect to recieve tips to make up the difference. Depending on the counselors “experience” and the way his or her bunk is treated determines the tip given.

    B”H, we as parents expect the same blend of ruchniyus and gashmiyus a counselor/j.c. gave us to show the same for our children.

    As for the Rebbi, Learning is an essential part of every day. The summer learning can give a child a head start to the upcoming school year while in a different surroundings. Having a “classroom” setting for learning groups during the summer can only benefit a child’s groeth in limud hatorah.

  8. I do not know which camp the letter writer sends his kids to. My daughters camp suggested tips for 1/2 the summer was $75 not $250.

  9. If you decide not to tip your children’s staff members; fine, but don’t advertise it, so that it will affect the decision of others. Fact is- camps are not paying their staff, so if you don’t tip, they won’t get a salary. I say; KEEP EM COMIN!!


    Hope to get out of New York soon beezras Hashem

  11. my kids have gone to camp every year for 10+ years, I have always wondered how much to tip counselors, waiters, and learning teachers. But I have decided that for the boys $20 counselor, $20 learning teacher and $10 waiter.
    The girls don’t have learning the same way as the boys and the girls have two counselors not just 1 as in the boys. so the girls tips $15 each counselor, and $10 for waiter.
    This is for half a summer.
    My oldest daughter has worked in camp, as a waitress, counslor and lifeguard, I wish each camper would tip her the way I tip!

  12. (AG, I think tipping is the result of the age gap. Contrary to what you learned in yeshivish marketing school , there is such a thing as bad marketing.) On the topic of tips and marketing, tips is a marketing tool. If camps included it in the base price it would appear too expensive to afford. its similar to the government. They only charge you thirty percent or whatever for taxes. add tolls, tickets, etc. you end up paying more. just it doesnt appear like so much.

  13. Ha ha ha lol. I think AG ( Ill post his real name soon if this madness continues ). Should just hire someone to randomly attribute every random letter to the age gap . It would be nice if matzav can install cookies in his browser and prevent him from ever posting on matzav again. Find another website! maybe a music website or a cooking website would be interested in knowing how music or cooking has to do with the age gap.

  14. There should be a Kol Korah stating that tipping should be Assur! It has become a major rip off! The camps are “FOR PROFIT” organizations! They are not in the Chesed business! There is nothing wrong with that. But don’t keep nickel & diming us with tip charges, trip charges, luggage fee’s, etc. These camps have gotten too greedy over the years. They should take care of all their staff members biderech Kavod.

  15. This year my daughter’s sleepaway camp added a $40 tip to the bill. That is fair, I think. How they divide it up is between the administration and the staff.

  16. Once upon a time there was a fairy tale: Jews are really good with money, always make a profit, and understand high finance.

    So why can’t we do a simple thing like paying realistic salaries and charging realistic tuition? We can’t manage camp tuition, can’t manage yeshiva tuition, can’t keep wedding costs under control, can’t afford to have the son-in-law learning forever, can’t tell a Bernie Madoff when he offers to invest our money. So what happened?

    How did we get so inept when it comes to financial management on a basic level where community standards are involved? It isn’t that individuals are not acting rationally. The system itself is broken. Where are the Gedollim and askanim to address this? An individual who tries to be different will get stigmatized – in shul and in the shidduch market – so it’s got to be a general community effort.

  17. Orthowatch.blogspot.com :
    You say “I understand a camp Rebbe – he watches the kids for a few hours, and that’s it. ”
    Are you totally out of your mind? I am a canp Rebbi. I give up my summer to give the kids in camp as much Ruchnius as I can. This involves hours upon hours of preperation and koiches. I do not use my summers to relax and take it easy, like I should. I get no days off. My entire summer is dedicated to my “few hours” in the morning and night seder at night and preparing in between.

    It is not easy learning with a group of 25 boys in camp. And the camps pay close to nothing. We rely on tips. And even then, we end up with very little. If the camp would pay us more, your price would also go up.

    I would think that everyone agrees that shiur is the most important part of camp. It helps the children keep what they got last year in school. And it is one of the most difficult jobs; to keep kids learning in a camp atmosphere.

    Learning Rabeyim have families to support, unlike the counselors. Their entire family give up having their father available for the summer. And they should get paid for that.

    So if you are asked to tip the Rebbi $50, don’t give it!! Make the check out for $100. You could probably take it off of maaaser, as most klei kodesh fall into that category!!

  18. CampRebbi is right on target. The secular educational system is always fighting the summer learning gap – where children can lose up to two to three months of what they learned the previous year. And that’s in English – most children’s first language.

    How much more so for our children who are learning in Hebrew and Aramaic, languages which they usually do not speak in their daily lives.

    We owe the camp Rebbes a debt of gratitude – and a living wage.

  19. Clearly the “tipped off” parent does not have teenagers working in camp. The fact of the matter is, your kids’ counselors work like dogs. Sure, they get room, board and entertaining activities, but they also have to deal with your spoiled, bratty kids from getting them up early in the morning to davening, to making sure they go to every activity, to making sure they eat every meal, to getting them into bed with lights out at night.
    You want to send your kids to camp, that is the price. As with anything in life, the baseline price is never the end of it; there are numerous nickel and dime costs that will come up along the way. If you are really so strapped, why do you have to take away from the dedicated staff members who work ridiculously hard to make sure your kids stay happy, healthy, safe, and having a good time? Maybe if you stop sending your kids fancy care packages every few days, you will have enough to tip the counselors, Rebbes, waiters, etc.

  20. To #15- Restaurants all also in the profit buisness. Yet you’re expected to tip the waiter.
    To the writer- Why are you so cheap all year round? Shouldn’t you give something to the Rebbe every Rosh Chodesh? It doesn’t even cost you! See Beitzah 16a.