A Reader Writes: More On Camp Issues

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camp-bochurim-summerDear Editor,

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.

Visiting Day

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.


M. K.


  1. Those who teach our children deserve recognition, some kids learn more in the summer than the whole Year thanks to the summer rebbe!

  2. 1. which camp are you referring to?
    2. Which camp is only $1000 for a half,most are $2000 and up?
    3. Another point you left out is all the shtus the camp wastes money on and then charges exhorbitant prices. The camps claim that they must charge these prices to stay in business but then they waste money on things that even the campers think is stupid. Not everything needs a major breakout to the tune of thousands of dollars. I think that the kids can have good clean fun without having amazing special activities every single day. What happened to playing sports, swimming twice daily and once in a while a special event. Now camps have more special events then regular activites.

  3. “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.

    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.”

    What do you know about healthy children? Are children who are home-sick not healthy? Some can take care of themselves perfectly, while at the same time being home-sick. Your kids don’t need you to visit them, good for you, don’t come. Some kids, can’t go for that long, some could, what’s the big deal? nobody said you have to come. By the way, my parents often didn’t come visiting day, and I was in camp for the whole summer, yes that amounts to 6 weeks without me seeing my parents, and there were no cell phones, faxes, and calling home on one of two broken phones were a pain. And did I mention my parents never called, because they were from a different generation? True I had no problem with this, but some kids need it, and there is no reason they can’t enjoy a summer in a sleep-away camp.

    I do think visiting day should be optional (of course it is, but the camp should be clear it’s a regular day, and you child wont be bored), with the camp providing what to do on grounds, so parents don’t have to drive around the mountains looking for things to do, and waiting on crazy lines for pizza. Then the parents will get home sooner, and will be happier with the camp. There is no reason parents need to spend the full 9 hours with their kids, and if they didn’t spend most of it in the car a shorter time would be better.

    Not to mention a camp is a business, not a public service, visiting day is profitable, tips are profitable, and if you think you can run a better business try it yourself.

  4. as a family the city and not in the mountains, we couldnt agree with you more..visiting day got really out of hand..the only things these kids basically want is for you to bring them food and money and clothing..baruch Hashem camps dont allow modern technology..

  5. Camps cost over $2000 for about 27 days and the camp you are talking about that has been around for decads is in danger of closing. Facts aside, visiting day should be abolished as should tips.

  6. that wondeful camp that has visiting day only once in six weeks,is due to the fact that even after one visiting day, the children become very home sick and its difficult to get them back on track. BTW that camp costs a lot more then $1000

  7. I have no problem with visiting day being abolished , so long I can come visit when I want to.

    Regarding tips it should be voluntary, not mandatory, and not suggested.

    Regarding payment of staff, as in any business, if supply is higher than demand the camp can get away with paying bubkes.

    Regarding article in Mishpacha a few weeks ago by Meir Frischman, I disagree that kids need a 8-10 week break in a row. I think it would be more sensible to have 4-6 weeks in the summer and a 2 week winter break.

  8. no more six week trips. Now it is two four week trips, with high tuition, and tipping is suggested! (things have changed recently!)

  9. Visiting day is strictly for tips AKA “palm-sunday” (grease their palms).

    Why isn’t there some sort of independent hashgocha on the food being served, the kitchen personell, Shabbos in the kitchen, what kashrus standards are being used? Vacation is not meant vacation from everything in yidishkeit.

  10. The camp where tips are not allowed, and where they don’t charge staff- is Sternberg.
    However, from my knowledge, Sternberg is a federation camp. It’s possible they are gov’t subsidized, which is why they might be able to do things differently than other camps (such as housing the staff for free- which in other camps, waiters and junior counselors do pay for camp, but then get tipped).
    Although Sternberg does have visiting day- just maybe not as often as the other camps. I remember my parents visiting me there on visiting day. I think originally their policy of not calling home or having too many visits was due to their being a federation camp- it might have been one of the stipulations of receiving gov’t grants, which is why they might not be able to be fairly compared to the other camps.

  11. Campers need a break from school. Some go for eight weeks and some go for four weeks to camp. I can surely agree with R’ Meir Frischman’s article about “Chinuch in the Catskills”. There is less pressure and more for a child to gain b’ruchniyous and most certainly b’gashmiyous. Camp fees are what they are and it is worth every penny. Children need a break from the school system since some schools lack the proper education

  12. You don’t have to visit your son/daughter in camp if you don’t want. I go to see my children in camp and bring them food and clothing because I want to see them and I miss them. Nobody forces you to come visit on visiting day. As for tips, the counselors, Rabbeim and other staff members who spend their time and efforts to make sure my son/daughter has a proper good time in camp, definitely deserve recognition and thanks. Does that mean you must shell out enormous sums to all? Definitely not. Give what you can, and if you can’t give just express your gratitude and say Thank You.

  13. a correction.
    most camps pay their counselors “$200 – $500” per half, and there are usually “1-2” counselors per bunk

  14. Its clear the person who wrote this article NEVER worked in or stayed in a sleepaway Camp.Visiting day and tipping is part of the fabric that makes Camp.The best meal of the trip is on Visiting day.The bunks are the cleanest on Visiting day.Councelors work hard taking care of 10-15 kids at a time.Did you ever do that.Why not calculate how many hours there coucelors etc.take care of your “Kinderlach”.They aren`t worth at least a dollar a day??come on!!If you cant afford Camp keep the kids home with you.Why not send them with Tatty to work.

  15. I agree 100%. The only reason camps encourage parents to make the trek up to camp on visiting day is so that the parents will tip the counselors, saving the camp from paying a decent wage. they lure the couselors into working for peanuts by promising them they will go home with much more money from the tips the parents will give them. Aren’t parents paying enough for camp as it is without having to subsidize the staff’s salary as well? And aren’t these greedy camp owners making enough money already to be able to pay their counselors decently, without shnorring more money from the parents? They are also getting away with planning and providing activities (and meals)for the campers on those days. Also, what about the poor campers who come from a distant location whose parents cannot come? Or the camper whose parents cannot come for some other reason? Do you know what they feel like on visiting day, with everyone else surrounded by family, when they have no one coming for them? Or the child who waits for hours by the driveway for someone to finally arrive for him/her, while all the other children have already greeted their family members? Visiting day is a horror of an experience for them. That is not what the camp experience is supposed to be about. In my day, we wrote letters. There were no phones, faxes,etc. A child who gets homesick in just a few weeks is probably not ready yet for a camp experience and should be kept home another year before being sent away to camp. The heavy traffic going and coming, the crazy lines in all of the pizza shops in the country, do not make for pleasant, relaxed day. It’s not so bad for the parents who are already up in the mountains in bungalows, but for the city-dwellers it is just torture.

  16. Camp Sternberg is the model No ntips
    no profits
    we sould support mogen av and seternberg they have the idea
    long live rabbi Ronnie Greenwald shlit”a the sternberger rebbe!

  17. i bring my kid home on visiting day…a bunch of us hire a van to provide the round trip transportation….very economical…..and yes- i do send tips back to camp with my kid–stop being so cheap-we all worked and appreciated other’s appreciation-


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