The Matzav Shmoooze: Visiting Day Blues

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visiting-dayDear [email protected],

On the issue of visiting day in summer camps, for the most part, the men have been in favor of abolishing visiting day, while mothers and grandmothers are often up in arms over even suggesting something as horrible as not visiting their children.

I am not going to take a side here. I will, however, share a shocking statement that someone made to me last Sunday, when I did not go to visit my children in sleep-away camp simply because it was too difficult for me to do so. The comment was, “Well, then, don’t be surprised when your kids go off the derech.”

Huh? Dear Matzav readers, is this how far we have come? That my children will go off the derech because I did not shlep for three hours each way to visit them in camp? Have we lost our sanity?

I sure hope that the remark made to me does not reflect the feelings of the general populace.

A Parent in Distress


  1. I think visiting day should be completely abolished, and I say this, gasp! as mother. My experience has been that my children in camp do really well, until it is time to leave…then the anxiety and sadness surface and makes me feel…horrible.

    Plus, I feel very bad for children who live out of town and who’s parents cannot come up to visit. It feels unnatural for me, as a mother, to leave my children somewhere and go home. It just feels wrong.

    I wish we could abolish visiting day altogether. Perhaps camp can be there for two or three week sessions to alleviate homesickness.

  2. The remark seems extreme, but it wouldn’t hurt to let your child know that you really did want to visit and hope he wasn’t very disappointed, but circumstances didn’t allow.

  3. I am a FATHER and I look forward to visiting day every year. It is not just the mothers and grandmothers who want to keep it. Many of us men also miss our kids and also look forward to spending time with them.

    If your child knows and truly feels your unconditional love for him then not visiting him on visiting day is harmless IF your child is ok with that. if your child will resent you or be embarrassed our hurt that he was from the few with nobody who came or visit him then perhaps an open discussion is in order and a decision together is made. Tzar Gidul bonim also means we the parents have to extend ourselves for our kids if need be.

    If the person who made the comment to you is speaking from experience R”L then feel their pain, listen to their story and if you are confident that it doesn’t apply in your home then move on. If it opens your eyes to a different angle of seeing things then thank them for opening your eyes.

    If the comment was malicious then be Mispallel for that person who said it that he too has a Refua Shelayma

  4. I do not know if it will go as far as making a kid go off the derech – but it certainly can have some effect on a sensitive child

  5. The height of Chutzpah; the person who made the remarks sounds as though he’s “off the derech”…of
    mentschlechkeit…especially at this time of the year.
    al eileh ani bochia…

  6. The camp should make it easier to visit by renting a charter bus for all fathers, mothers, and grandmothers. This will help to ease the burden to visit my children in sleep-away camp , not simply because it was too difficult for me to do so.

  7. Kids don’t go off the derech (assuming they are already on the derech by their own choosing and understanding of their personal relationship with Hashem)because of what a parent may do. Look at Baalei Teshuva who’s parents were not frum at all. BUT they might hate a parent who won’t visit when everyone else does.

  8. If you don’t go out of your way to respect their wishes, why should they go out of their way to respect yours. If your unspoken message is “I’m too lazy to show my family some attention” they will pick up on it. They will learn laziness too, but they will do it in their own way.

  9. Do I think that not going to see your kids on visiting day will make them go off the derech? No.

    But it does send a message to your kids that they are not worth the effort of a schlep of a few hours — even if that’s not the message you intend to send.

    The Wolf

  10. well I agree with that someone. people need to realize todays times and childrens needs of todays day. visiting day for our children is something that they all look forward to ,and wether you like it or not, has now become something which is a need . so the bottom line is that in todays days it is a need and if you deprive them of their visiting day , you are depriving them of a need. therefore it is understandable how if you deprive children of what they need they may go off the derech

  11. It takes tremendous mesirus nefesh in dollars alone to send a child to camp. That alone is hishtadlus to keep one’s children “on the derech”

    Giving children a feeling of entitlement and pampering and a lack of self-sufficiency, however, can lead to major emotional problems and “going off the derech”.

  12. I’d like to take the opposite view. Because we spoil are children so & don’t give them the chance of going thru some form of hardship, we don’t give them the coping skills needed & then when things don’t go exactly their way, they might go off the derech…

  13. Uh, oh… I cannot even tell you how many visiting days I have missed over the past 2 decades because we lived very out of town and had already spent way over budget on the airfare required to get our kids to camp in the first place. (Actual camp costs were a gift from the grandparents…)
    Well, I suppose that my tefilos that my children should always be shomrei Torah U’mitzvos should now include a clause that says “despite my being remiss and irresponsible in not visiting them on the heilige visiting day.

  14. the general populace thinks they only they know the cause for kids going off the derech. If the cause and effect were as simple as your friend makes it life would be easy.
    As far as not visiting your son obviously every child is different and only you as a parent know if it was important to your son that you visited. I would assume that would depend on a lot of factors including how many other kids in the bunk did not have visitors.

  15. there has been this major debate for years, and I think this would have been the perfect year to try out a summer without visiting day!! it was the hardest day to be away from home, with needing to finish the laundry, take showers, etc before the nine days started!!! I think it was unfair for the camps not to have taken this into account and expected visiting day to happen as usual!

  16. Dear Distressed Parent,
    The comment made to you was uncalled for, and out of line.

    Having said that, and having five children, BE’H, now all grown, who went through sleep-away camps, I most certainly can commisserate with you on how difficult visiting day is.

    The children are finally getting over their initial home-sickness, and then we visit and open the scabs all over again.

    99% of the time it’s either oppressively hot, or drenching raining and muddy, and everyone – I mean everyone – is miserable.

    You either got their too late, or you’re leaving too early, or you did not do enough. The day is doomed to fail and fall short before it even begins.

    It’s not good for the parents, it’s not good for the kids, it should be abolished.

    The ONLY (il)logical reason I see why this horrible practice has not been abolished is so that the counselors and jr. counselors and waiters, etc., get their tips. With no visiting day, most parents would not send in tips – given the cost of camp these days.

    So now you’re stuck, and it is a necessary evil, because if you don’t go… woe unto you.

    You should have gone…

  17. That is an awful statement. Your children will not go off the derech because you are a terrible parent. They will go off the derech because you have a terrible derech.

  18. That was a terrible and insensitive comment to make, especially during the Nine Days before Tisha B’Av. What ever happened to Chazal’s dictum to judge people favourably?
    Chazal say: Kol ha’posel b’mumo posel (Kiddushin 70b)”Anyone who disqualifies others must (in some way) have that same disqualification.” Let’s not be overly judgmental. Having one’s kid go “off the derech” is a terrible thing, rachamana l’tzlan, and one shouldn’t wish it or mention it to anybody. Let’s leave mentioning it to Bilaam’s donkey (Va’tayt ha’ason min haderech!” -“And the donkey went off the derech!” (Bamidbar 22:23)

  19. How do you think your son felt when every other parent of his friends in camp came to visit and his parents didn’t? Why did every other parent think their child was worth the shlep, and your son’s parents didn’t? Unfortunately, I agree with the comment you received. If you don’t care enough about your son to spare him from this kind of embarrassment, then you shouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t grow up to make you proud.

  20. Isn’t it time to wake up and behave in a sane way. Why are we allowing for our children to grow up influenced by every mishugas? Where are the schools? Off the derech? What is the derech?

  21. I actually did travel the 5 – 6 hours this past July 4th weekend visiting day. It also happened to be the day before the 9 days, last chance for laundry, putting on fresh clothes, and eating fleishigs. My husband wanted to leave after a 2 hour visit.
    My children don’t want to talk to me anymore, as they were devastated that we didn’t have time to do laundry and eat out together and have a blast to brag to their fellow campers about.
    Normally they are good kids. I feel like visiting day ruined a good relationship. I can’t even begin to understand…..

  22. #22, your comment is ridiculous; a child doesn’t go off the derech because a parent didnt come on visiting day~ it’s insensitive to agree that he “deserved the comment” you know the dynamics of a father who couldn’t make it? talk about not being judgemental…what a sad commentary when parents are moser nefesh to send thir children to expensive summer camps, with every parent schlepping gatorade, (used to be water),nosh ad nauseum,& sending cholent & kugels to their little darlings Erev Shabbos…the entitlement attitude …no wonder there are so many broken engagements & divorces of young couples today.

  23. Visiting day has long, run its course! Its high time to abolish it. What is one supposed to do when you have kn”h many children all in different camps in different locations (Poconos, Ferndale, East Durham, Detroit)? This idea of: “well you have to tip the staff”, is a bunch of crock! Tips should be made ILLEGAL! Its the greedy camps responsibility to pay their staff!

  24. My best part of Matzav is “Matzav Shmoooze” where I get to comment along with the rest of the kids in my class. Please post a “shmooooze” everyday this way we get to hock the next day in school about all the comments that we leave….

  25. In previous years my daughter’s camp always had a special activity for the girls whose parents couldn’t come for visiting day. What is the big deal? When I was growing up my parents came, I showed them around, they visited for about an hour, and left. No such thing as going off camp grounds.

  26. As both a parent and someone involved with camps for almost 40 years, I hear both sides of the debate. There are a 3 parts to this debate. 1)the parents 2) the children 3) your child’s devoted staff member.
    As far as the parent’s are concerned (including myself) The issue of “shleping” 2-3 hours and then sitting in traffic just to pay a short visit to your kid does seem a bit hard. But I think this attitude is the same attitude we have when we get a wedding invitation and we breath a sigh of relief when there is no return card. And what if you have to go to Lakewood or Monsey from Brooklyn. Nowadays we all seem to be in a mad rush with no time for anything anymore.
    A major difference for children is today most camps allow children to call home. The counselors have phones and if need be the children could call. On the other hand the children do cherish the time with you. However I will say I don’t know if they appreciate your 4-5 shlep. Lastly the staff, from the time I was a junior staff member until today the staff is paid less then minimum wage. In many cases they only get a free summer. Your tip is to show appreciation to your child’s “parent away from home”. My experience is out of sight out of mind, If you come to visit your are more likely to leave a tip. Have a great summer!!

  27. To those who say that a child will be hurt if his parents do not show up to visiting day, you may have a point, but that is only because that child’s parents do not show up while everyone else’s parents do. If visiting day were totally abolished, as it should be, this would not be a problem at all. The kids will be fine. If a kid can go for two weeks, then he can go for four.

  28. As an old Camp Sternberger, I loved being independent for the 3 weeks of camp. At that time there were 3 separate trips of 3 weeks each with no visitors. When it was changed to the typical 2 trips of 4 weeks, all the anxiety of when my parents would come and what would they bring and then having them leave became the norm. You do the math!!!!

    Incidentally, when and if I do visit my kids, and after a while they ask when we are leaving since they want to have a catch or a swim with their friends, that’s the best news to me. After all, camp is the experience where a child must be independent and learns to be.

  29. i think there should be no visting day at all as its often hard for the parents to come up and if the child is responsible enough to go to camp then he can last 4 weeks without seeing his parents

  30. To #24 – Chayat:

    Bingo! I had the exact same experience last year (2nd trip). It rained that day. Round trip driving was about 8 hours! We don’t have any “connections” in the Catskills. No one to visit or have a barbeque. I made a neder I will not do it again. I made it very clear to my son, before we confirmed that he is going back, that WE WILL NOT COME UP ON visiting day! He was maskim & that’s that. Good luck.

  31. That was a horrible thing to say, but I am wondering – how did you explain to your child why you couldn’t be bothered to make the trip? And what do you think he said when his friends asked why he didn’t have any visitors? For better or for worse, camps have visiting day, and the expectation is that parents in the tri-state area will visit. Was “too hard” really a good enough reason for your child to feel hurt?

  32. Evreryone here thinks they are so wise as usual…
    The truth is, just like everything else in our lives, things need to be looked at in thier specific context.

  33. so if you go to Midwest or Cleveland for sleepaway camp there is no visiting day if your daughter or son goes to learn in eretz yisroel there is no visiting day …




  34. It’s absolutely insane to suggest that a child will fall off because of visiting day.

    Lets think this through clearly. Parents who cannot afford sleep-away camp, and therefore send them to day camp, do exist. Will this “genius” also suggest that anyone who doesn’t go to sleep-away camp is doomed? We know that they are just fine.

    Now, when a child asks his parents to send him to sleep away camp, they can be very clear:

    A) No, we can’t afford it. We love you very much, and are trying to give you a great summer. You give us much nachas too.

    B) Yes, we will send you to camp. We can only afford x amount for cloths. No, we cannot visit you on visiting day, sorry. If you would like, you are welcome to go to the local day camp and we will visit you every evening!

    C) Yes, we can send you to camp. We can visit you once… Or we can send you a package.

    A postcard, or letter with some pictures goes a long way.

    Don’t worry about this loose tongues kookedness

  35. Why are camps allowed to get away with charging an additional $30+ to bring the luggage to camp? This excuse they give: “it has nothing to do with us”, is total irresponsibility!!! It is out & out theivery! Ginaiva!

  36. Why can’t parents mail the tips, with a nice note, to the counselors, waiters, etc.? It’s what parents who don’t live tristate, or who send to camps that (gasp, what will be with shidduchim?) don’t have visiting day.

  37. I think that the fact that it has to do with money is bogus. I have never missed a visiting day in town and this year with one of my children being out of town I asked her to let me know the tip schedule and plan on mailing the tip. I asked many of my friends and they said they also mail the camp the tips when they cant visit a camp. yes maybe a few parents will tip less. trust me visiting day is a pain for the camp and the counselors and they would gladly give it up for the few dollars.


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