I would like to add my copper-colored coins to the camp issues that should be resolved before the letters go out for the next camping season. It is interesting to note that just about all the letters have been pointing to the need for change in the policies that are currently in effect.
I would like to see a verbal response from the policy-makers (private owners) of the camps so that parents don’t feel that they are just letting off steam fruitlessly. I would like to see Matzav.com used as a platform so that some sort of joint agreement can be reached over the next few months regarding next summer’s camp season.
I feel that two major policies need to be addressed: visiting day and tips.
Those of us not spending our summer in the Catskills know what a toll Visiting Day takes on the driver and the occupants of the car. The average family has a minimum of two camps to visit. The average arrival time back home on that Sunday is from 11 p.m. to as late as 2 a.m.
I don’t have the answers for children who are lucky enough to spend eight weeks in camp. (By the way, it is no longer a full 8 weeks anymore because days have been chiseled off in the last few years). To the children who go to camp for four weeks, I say this:
If you are old enough to go to sleep away camp, you are old enough to handle it for twenty-something days without seeing family.
Today there are pay phones, cell phones, fax machines and voice mail – campers are not stuck out in the forest!
Visiting Day under these normal circumstances should be voted out. I challenge anyone to come up with a good reason why an average healthy child must see family 7 – 10 days after camp starts.
Tips have gotten out of control.
Those who teach our children deserve recognition, although I would like someone to explain why the camp asks parents to tip fifty dollars and up for a rebbi who teaches 2-3 hours a day for four weeks. During the year, they teach double the hours for four months before they get their well-deserved hakoras hatov around Chanukah time, and not always do they receive as much from parents!
Regarding tips for counselors and J.C.s: Most camps charge counselors and J.C.s to the tune of $500, $1000 or more for the privilege of coming to work in their camp. Then they send the parents letters before Visiting Day bemoaning the fact that they wish they could adequately compensate these hardworking teenagers for their outstanding effort. They turn to the parents and ask for help in showing hakoras hatov…to the tune of $25, $40, $50 etc. per counselor. The average bunk has 2-3 counselors. I know that trees grow well in Brooklyn and maybe in Monsey, Lakewood and Williamsburg too…, but camp alone costs well over $1000 per child for twenty-something days. What are the camps thinking?
For those parents who don’t believe these changes are possible, I refer you to a wonderful camp in the Catskills where there is only one Visiting Day during the 6-week trip and where tipping is forbidden. These policies have been in effect for several decades!
Changes can be made if enough people get involved.