The Matzav Shmoooze: Locked Out of Camp


summer campDear Editor@Matzav,

The summer is almost here and school is almost out. My children don’t have plans. You know why? Because I can’t afford sleepaway camp. How does everyone out there do it? Am I the only parent who cannot afford to shell out no less than $2,000 per half for sleepaway camp?

My children are devastated, but what should I do? If there’s no money, there’s no money. I just about get by during the year, paying tuition, paying my bills, and not buying extras. The summer is a killer. The camps charge a fortune, locking my kids out of a camp experience.

Any ideas?

A Matzav Reader

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  1. Emo Anochi Batzarah. I am suffering from the same Matzav. Then the vicious cycle kicks in again as my children will not have the proper structure over the summer nor be in a good and safe environment (since I cannot afford these prices) so when Yeshiva starts next Zman ill get the call that my boys are not settled and have fallen behind since they did not have a productive summer, then the year goes on and my kids struggle to regain their confidence and be up to par and then just as they are peaking and feeling good about themselves the next summer comes and we fall backwards again into this vicious cycle. I guess this is theirs and my Nisayon. It has been happening the last 3 years and (unless something changes financially) it will continue to happen.

    This year though, I was offered a wonderful Zchus. One of the camps made me a very generous offer that if I allow them to hire my son as a junior counselor and to come work for them 24 / 7 for 8 weeks they would reduce my camp fee to under $3000. I was so thrilled to learn that a camp would hire my son to work for them and only make me pay $3000 for this privilege. Ahhhhhh….Me Kemacha Yisroel. Such generosity.

  2. There is plenty of money available… there are very rich Yidden holding HaKodesh Barachu’s money for this world…

    There are plenty of Jewish funds, kirev organizations etc…

    There are plenty of Rabbaium who have access to the purse strings.

    Maybe you should call one of them…I’d be surprised if one of them didn’t find a way to help you… and being surprised means I lack emunah, chas v’shalom, but in the instant case, I would be surprised if someone, some organization that knew of your plight would not immediately step up to help your family.

    And remember, if HaShem sends an organization that is not “yours” to help, don’t be foolish and ignore the blessing (old joke, He sent five miracles to help the person off an island he was stranded on… each time he said, dont worry, I’m waiting for Hashem to rescue me…and then he asked why didn’t Hashem send help….dont be blind when the blessing arrives)

    It is HaKodesh Barachu’s money… someone with means should help this family

    ps… and the other 200,000 kinderlock that need help

  3. start putting away for the summer starting from Chanukah time.

    instead of going out to eat twice a week, minimize it to only once a week.

    start becoming your own personal accountant by writing down every tiny expense & keep an account of everything. you will start to see money being saved up & put away for the summer.

    BOTTOM LINE: you might already be living low & to the minimum but there is always something else you can cut in order to help you cover real necessities like camp for your child in the summer


  4. That’s what day camp is for. Sleepaway camp is nice, but it’s not exactly tragic if your kids can’t go. There are many children who go to day camp, so obviously you’re not the only one who cant afford overnight camp. While I did send my children to sleepaway camp there is absolutely no way they will be able to send their children. The day camps, at least here in Lakewood, are absolutely great. I don’t think anyone is going too crazy about missing out on sleepaway camp.

  5. Whats wrong with day camp? I dont know where you live, but in Boro Park, Flatbush, and Williamsburg for example, there are thousands of boys and girls in such day camps. They all have a good time and are happy.
    Surely many would like to go to camp, but cannot. Maybe because of finances, or because of familial issues. But thats the facts of life.
    Dont act miserable and make your kids miserable. Do something positive and with a smile.

  6. Try getting a better job or business. Using the anger that you are feeling now to drive you to do more. Not just talk about but actually doing it! Right now!

  7. I promise you are not alone! This is a living nightmare. I finally cleared space on cc as a back up for next years Yeshiva Tuition and I had to put camp tuition there instead.

    I don’t think the camps are charging anything more than they need to. I believe they also need a salary to pay their own kids Yeshiva fees… it is really crazy though…

    Have Bitachon!

  8. Have no fear, you certainly are not the only one. Instead on your children being devestated turn it into a life lesson about expectations and living within ones means. I am sure you can find a meaningful summer for them in a less expensive way.

  9. When I was growing up, my parents couldn’t afford sleepaway camp until I was in junior high school, and even then it was just one week of Boy Scout Camp.

    I survived. Your kids will, too. Let them know that you love them and take some extra time to do inexpensive things with them in and around where you live.

    Good luck!

  10. My kids don’t go to sleep away camp either. I cannot afford it either. However even if I could I would never send my kid to a sleep away camp. I am big proponent of kids developing their minds and exercising their free will and developing into highly functional, imaginitive, creative, thought out people- sleep away camp is the antithesis of all of those values, in my opinion. My kids have never gone to sleep away camp and they have always been very happy. We may be exhausted every single day but it’s worth it. And as it is I hardly see my kids all school year, and they are always so busy with homework. I feel like I am the only person I know who actually looks forward to summer and spending real quality time with my kids with no pressure of homework, play practice and all the other distractions that school produces.

  11. #3 I highly doubt the writer eats out once or twice a week! I can afford B”H sleepaway & we never eat out unless it’s for a special occasion.To the writer, I feel for your children; on the flip side the day camps are packed, Regarding sleepaway it’s not only the base price, it’s the whole hullabaloo of parents coming up on visiting day, & after traveling 3 hrs, the kids expect their parents to take them off camp grounds to be entertained. The amount of nosh, bottled water & camp packages brought up are ridiculous. Parents who send their potato kugel & cholent every week, are raising spoiled brats. So it’s not only the price of sleepaway it’s all the extras that are very costly so that they can live up to the Fliegelheimers….Hatzlocho, & I do hope your children have a fun summer at day camp.

  12. Sometimes it is more important to teach your child they cannot have everything they want, or that all their friends do. Than to put yourself in a financial bind. This may be a chance for Hashem to also teach parents what is needed and what is extra.

  13. I truly feel for you.
    Many of us never saw this coming . The multiple tuitions, mortgage payments, summer camps and just basic living expenses. Many of us tried moving to areas that had simple standards but that utopia was shattered long ago.
    Even paying for multiple daycamp fees can add up as well .
    However as a captain of the ship we must soldier on and bring a simchas hachaim to our houses. If you can try and take off a few days and are so inclined take them camping .
    The cost of the site is not much and they will tzatchtka with the idea for weeks beforehand and talk about it afterwards for the rest of the year. (assuming that it was a pleasurable experience) .
    Try and network with others that have gone camping to maximize the experience. Try and identify kosher fish beforehand and practice gutting them so you can eat your own catch! the options are endless

  14. Website, kol hakavod. I ran camp mommy for years myself. There does reach a point where the kids are too old for that, especially boys, and there aren’t always day camps, or jobs, available.

  15. To #3 Anonymous, I don’t know about the letter writer but we never eat out, even ONCE a week…I don’t even buy lunch to take to work….i just skip lunch all together if I can’t grab something from home. Many of us are already having difficulty making ends meet and paying all our bills throughout the year even without the “extras ” and that’s even with making quite a decent salary … you assume “there is always where to cut” but that is a wrong assumption. Dry cleaning? Nope. Launder at home, except for the occasional suit that can’t be washed. Cleaning help? (although I don’t view this as an extra,) Nope. Cut that out long ago.
    And to #6 anonymous, while day camp is cheaper than sleep away camp, they are by no means cheap, especially if you need camp(s) for several children. One of my daughter’s camps alone is about $1000 for the summer.

  16. Mi Keamcha Yisroel. So many super wealthy people in our community and making sure that that camp, school, and housing, is affordable for those who aren’t. It makes me proud.

  17. About day camps,
    I used to work in a day camp in Brooklyn, the day started for the kids at 9:00AM they had learning until 12:00 with a half hour of recess in the middle. ALL THIS FOR 1st thru 8th GRADERS.
    Why can’t kids 6-14 have a few weeks where they can be kids and not have school of sorts?!? I know of one camp where the learning director wanted to have tests!!!!!
    Compare that to any sleep way camp’s learning time after breakfast they start learning around 9:30-9:45 the earliest leaning goes until 11 the latest and that is also with a recess in the middle for the little kids.

  18. to, Joe. saying get a better job is mean and disgusting. maybe the parents work as best they could. be nice or shut up. to the people who gave good leads and good suggestions, good for you. to those who made comments about dry cleaning and eating out, how do you know what these people do,..

  19. Dear Ray shlita, {and all other “back bloggers” , limashul ‘skdola’} This indavidual AKA matzav Reader wants real advice that is true , And sorry to burst youre bubble but sometimes guess what……THE TRUTH HURTS!!!!!!!!

    P.S. someone who is giving hashkafahdige mussar shouldent be a blogger.

    hatzlachah rabah and yours TRULY randomguy.