MATZAV INBOX: Outrageous Cost of Frum Summer Sleep-Away Camps

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Dear Editor,

I am writing to express my deep concern and frustration regarding the exorbitant costs associated with frum summer sleep-away camps.

I have witnessed firsthand how these exorbitant fees place an immense financial burden on parents who are already struggling to make ends meet.

The summer camp experience is undoubtedly a cherished and valuable opportunity for children to grow, learn, and create lasting memories. However, it is disheartening to see how these camps are choking many families due to their astronomical price tags. Are these camps simply money-makers? I have no idea. What I do know is that the cost of sending a child to a frum sleep-away camp has reached such heights that it has become nothing short of a financial nightmare for numerous parents.

The implications of this issue extend far beyond mere financial strain. Parents are forced to make difficult decisions, sometimes sacrificing basic necessities or going into debt just to provide their children with this formative experience. The pursuit of this summer experience should not come at the expense of a family’s financial stability, not to mention its impact on the health and wellbeing of the parents and the accompanying stress.

It is essential for the broader frum community to acknowledge and address this problem. While it is true that running a summer camp costs money, the current situation seems to have spiraled out of control. The alleged “escalating costs” should not be disproportionately transferred onto parents, particularly those who are already grappling with financial hardships.

It is high time for camp organizers, community leaders, and relevant stakeholders to come together and find practical solutions to alleviate the burden on parents.

Does it make sense that I am paying for 4 weeks of camp almost as much as I pay for a year of school?

I kindly request that bring attention to this matter through your esteemed website, as I believe it is crucial to shed light on the profound impact these exorbitant costs have on frum families.

Thank you for considering my perspective on this pressing issue. I hope that together, we can strive towards a more inclusive and affordable summer camp experience for all frum children.


D. B.

New Jersey



    • Well, at least they should cancel visiting day. It is a total waste of a camp day. Make a cheshbon of how much each day of camp is costing you. Why pay twice for one day of camp? If a kid is mature enough to go to a sleepaway camp, he doesn’t need his mommy and totty to come see him after a week and a half.

  1. And the camps excuse it by serving steak once in a while which is wholly unnecessary, the kids dont need stake and do not need to be spoiled

  2. Start your own sleep away camp. Buy an existing one and fix it up or buy 100 acres somewhere and build it. Calculate your carrying expenses, (those are 12 mos per year) maintenance costs, plus your summer running costs of food, staffing, utilities, etc and then tell me if they are charging too much. Btw the non frum camps are Significantly higher than the frum ones.

    • You’re a young child. When you get married and have your own children, maybe you’ll be mature enough to realize how much of a foolish statement you’ve made.

  3. Why would anyone send a child away from home for 4 weeks? or 8 weeks?
    In UK maximum 2 weeks. Costs about £600 ($750)

    Maybe the system itself needs repair.




    • Reb Yaakov Bender wrote in the yaated a few years ago that parents should consider taking out a loan if they can’t afford to send their children to camp because camp is a necessity not a luxury anymore.

  5. It is true that it is expensive, but there really isn’t that much leeway to cut costs -without leaving over a reasonable profit for the operators. You can’t expect someone to take under a huge operation of running a camp without taking a decent salary. There is a Tzadik by the name of Rabbi Perlstien that created a camp (many years ago already) at pretty much cost price. I think the name of his camp is Camp Ruach Chaim. I heard that he is also planning on opening up a Seminary in Israel, also for substantially less than the typical Seminary.

  6. I hope to convey my comment with the utmost respect to the letter writer. I know your pain, it is insane how expensive camps have become.
    However, your letter is truly relying socialist ideology.

    A camp director, is a business man. He charges are based on what the cost of good sold are. Should he lose money so your child can go to camp?
    Is he not entitled to make a profit?

    Are you asking others to work like slaves providing you with a beautiful experience at their expense and then ask how dare they make a profit??

    If you so strongly believe this is a Klal issue, why don’t you get up and spend millions of your own dollars providing a cost effective camp for Klal Yisroel?

    How can you ask the owners of camps to sacrifice for you???

    I’m not sure how to express my feelings here, but this letter is all kinds of wrong.

    • So is maaser, leket, shikcha & peah. There is makom for “socialism” in klal yisroel. Just as if someone cant afford full tution schools make it work bec of the responsibility to the klal, camp should be no different.

  7. The cost of summer camp is a problem but if there is no money for it , important as camp may be, it has to be cut out for some sort of day program.

    On the flip side Camp Torah Vodaas z’l was a non profit camp that was very lenient about tuition if you would call the owners and ask for a break. They ended up closing down over financial difficulty

  8. In the infamous words of an ancient cartoon character (Pogo), “We have met the enemy, and they is us.” No, this is not an incrimination of any individual. But, we, as a community, have allowed situations to evolve that make things unsustainable.

    We have rendered summer camp a necessity, not a luxury. And the lifestyles of both country life and camp life have increased exponentially to degrees unknown to the older generation. Think of the foods that parents need to supply, the Shabbos dips, nosh, and much more. How about the array of devices that each kid needs to bring? These are staples, not extras. The camps themselves are under competitive pressure to provide exotic and extreme trips and events, involving costs that fall upon the parents.

    I expect to hear comments about the social needs of the kids being fulfilled by the camp experience. “But all of my friends have it, do it, etc.” So there is a sense of entitlement. Well, guess what. The wealthy can afford this. Most of the rest cannot.

    I will hear comments about the country air being so much healthier. Perhaps it is. But that does not cement it as a requirement. Where went the days when we voluntarily incurred expenses according to our means?

    Next, there will be those proclaiming that the owners and administrations of the camps are doing this to provide parnosoh for their families. I’m sure that patronizing them is nice. But I do not buy airline tickets just because someone I know is a travel agent. Nor do I call a plumber if everything is in working order.

    Camps might be a nice thing, and I hope that all who go have great experiences. But we have permitted this to become a need, not a want. And we, as a community, are to be faulted for that.

  9. There are Frum / Chassidish Summer camps that are wonderfull great experiences for the Frum Oilam supported by Jewish Foundation Charities that offer scholarships, discounts and or nominal fees. There are also many Frum Summer camps that are very very expensive. “Does it make sense that I am paying for 4 weeks of camp almost as much as I pay for a year of school?” …nobody is forcing you to send your children to Camp Munk , Raninu, Romemu etc… just like nobody is forcing you to buy a $1,000.00 esrog and lulav. or a Borsalino Hat.

  10. I totally understand what the author is writing.
    We need to look at it from the camp side
    1.Camp ground
    2. Maintenance
    3. Staff
    4. Insurance
    5. Food
    6. Trips(I’m not a fan of, but this is what camps do)
    7. Seferim, Siddurim
    I’m sure I am missing many items.
    This can be very costly for a camp.

  11. True, summer sleep-away camps are a fortune, a luxury that not many can afford, but at the end of the day the staff and directors don’t come home with their pockets overflowing, just the opposite, because everything costs, from salaries and food to trips and gifts and other expenses.
    If you can’t afford good camps which are probably more expensive, go to cheaper ones. You pay what you get.

  12. I totally understand what the author is writing.
    We need to look at it from the camp side
    1.Camp ground
    2. Maintenance
    3. Staff
    4. Insurance
    5. Food
    6. Trips(I’m not a fan of, but this is what camps do)
    7. Seferim, Siddurim
    I’m sure I am missing many items.
    This can be very costly for a camp.

  13. I am sorry you wasted your time writing your letter. No changes will be made. Unless your start talking about tznius (let’s pick on the women) or the evils of cell phones, nobody of any importance will give you the time of day (unless, of course, you are filthy rich in which case you would not have written this letter).


  15. I guess we have to reevaluate whether these camps are a “need”.
    Maybe they are, but perhaps they arent. Before the ‘community’ takes thought and action in this regard, we must know what type of issue is at hand.

    The implication however, that camps are charging too much, while needing further investigation, is currently unfounded, and would be slanderous if taken at face value.
    I am not accusing the author of this article of trying to promote that, but it is intrinsically even if not intentionally, implied.

  16. Let’s start a Kupat Hair deLakewood – Sleep-a-way-Camp fund.
    The kids will say Tihillim for all donors if 1000.00 and up.
    For donors if 10000.00 an up you get to spend a Shabbos at camp. For 25000.00 you can bring you family along for Shabbos.
    Also we are in the midst of putting together A “pay-1999-prices-at-the-grocery” soup kitchen to be used by all those who can’t afford sleep away camps.

  17. “Does it make sense that I am paying for 4 weeks of camp almost as much as I pay for a year of school?”
    Camp is very pricey, but that sounds insane. Full tuition at our schools is about $10k and camps are nowhere near that for a full summer, certainly not for a half.

  18. Sadly this important and very true issue will fall upon deaf ears. The camps are all private business with owners pocketing all the profits. Even Camps Aguda, Bnos and Bnoseinu are privately owned by the Aguda – a not for profit.

    Sadly, it’s the classic yidden taking advantage of yidden just like by Matzoh, esrogim, sheitlach, pesach foods and everything else. So sad.

    Ultimately these people will have to give Din vocheshbon on the decisions they make and the problems they cause.

    Easy to say back that don’t send your kids to camp, or just buy machine matzoh, of buy just 1 wig, or not the most beautiful esrog, or eat less chicken and meat etc. Afterall magically eggs which were closer to $4 a dozen Pesach time are .95 now.

    Simple math. IF (and I stress the IF) each camp had (only) 500 paying campers and you reduced the camp fee by just 1000, the camp owner makes 500,000 less profit. Dont be wirried, he is making much more than that – MUCH more.

    However, it’s his private business and nobody will be able to change it. When a few other camps open charging half the price and still make a nice profit, then and only then will the existing camps come down in price.

    Oh, and just to throw this in the cheshbon, not only are the camps charging a fortune but they don’t even pay their staff. Counselors get bubkis and have to rely on tips (cause the camp fees parents already pay are not enough) and junior Counselors and most kitchen staff and lifeguards actually have to PAY full price like a camper for the privilege to work in the camp. Truly a messed up system

    • This commentator knows absolutely nothing about the costs of running a camp.
      His line “When a few other camps open charging half the price and still make a nice profit, then and only then will the existing camps come down in price” reveals the depth of his ignorance. There’s a very good reason why 5 camps do not open every summer – it’s not nearly the “money-maker” he assumes it to be. Far, far from it.

    • As usual, your comments are to the point and accurate.
      As an aside, keeping a 13 year old boy home in the City because the costs of sleepaway camp being too expensive, IS A RECIPE FOR SPIRITUAL DISASTER!!! A bar mitzvah bachur and older, can NOT hang around the house unsupervised.

  19. “Does it make sense that I am paying for 4 weeks of camp almost as much as I pay for a year of school?”

    Definitely not, unless you’re getting a great deal on your tuition.

    For example, a well-known camp lists their charges for this year on their site as about $3500 for a 4 week session and about $3000 for a 3 week session, or about $6,000 for the entire Summer.

    I presume you’re not paying $3,500 for a year of tuition for one child?

    Either way, though, the cost of camp is indeed very high (regardless of reason/justification, etc.), as you pointed out.

  20. the chassidish camps are HALF the price! and allow a payment plan. you ask how is it possible? chassidish camps are viewed as an extension of the yeshiva , buses.. rebbes..peanut butter go up … additionally the director/ boss of every chassidsh camp is a successful baal habos who not only doesnt take a salary but pumps in his own money and thats his contribution to the chassidus. as an example, visnitz- neiman/ tzelim – kohn/ munkatch – green/….. additionally lunch program gives about 750 per child for the summer,

  21. Here we go again, the cost of things. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. I went to Mommy camp as a kid. Affordable, available, and no bullying.

  22. Fact is that a regular camp director comes out with app. A million dollars in profit some more some less but that is approximate.
    Fact is non frum camps are way way more expensive and so are the modern orthodox camps
    Fact is that camps are a private business so they can do what they want.
    So sad to see families that cannot afford it and go to camp in order to get free camp for their kids.they work non stop wearing themselves out instead of taking a break which they need
    These people live in squalid conditions disgusting beyond what is respectable of a frum family if people would see hiw they live they would be shocked beyond words. True to especially bnei torah rabbeim
    They get paid almost nothing or nothing at all just so get they get ahead of restrictive camp prices and most kids go for free. I was in a boys camp that the owner charged the staff money to make a small daycamp for the young kids. He anyways does not give money to that counselor he had youth corp!! How low can you get?!! I used to go was there for many years untill we decided our basic human dignity has no price and not worth all this.i actually feel like crying for them.very very few directors are in tune with the families that work there Bh some are and are well known for that. Others leave a different legacy There are some that do like coming for the fresh air etc. however any of them would stay home in a heartbeat if they would be able to afford camp
    Some camps charge the families $75 a month for unit a/c which they have to bring themselves! What a chutzpa
    Food is usually provided to camp for free והמבין יבין however the families get fed food that is fir for a 5yr old without any בושה
    I can go on and on at the end of the day the camp director is just a regular business man that calls himself “rabbi” not sure why
    They are the furthest from “rabbi”
    THE ULTIMATE FACT is that our system is so antiquated and leaves no normal choice for parents that cannot afford it
    Change the school schedule etc
    It is a lost case nothing will ever change

  23. I hear you! It’s true abt how expensive camp is. If camps didn’t do their extravagant activities and over the top trips, they could charge a whole lot less. However, this is what frum society in the tri state area has become. Tablescapes. Meatboards. $100 elaborate cakes. Travel camps for teens…..

    Do what I do. I just don’t. I say no to all of the above. No social media. No smartphones. No influencers. I don’t try to keep up with the Joneses, I don’t care what my neighbor has or does. You have no chance of winning. Don’t race.

    Vendors have the right to charge whatever they want. I have the right to say no thanks. I can BH spend more than I do but don’t want to answer achar meah v’esrim why I bought a $115 cake when my neighbor was hungry….

    I’m sorry this is stressful for you! I can tell you that deciding where I draw the line and sticking to it made me a more relaxed person. IfI can’t, I don’t. If I can, I still think twice.


  24. We live in a capitalistic society. If the price for the goods the camp is offering is overpriced, people won’t send. there are cheaper alternatives, but you won’t send there. Generally speaking, the camps have to compete for the most exciting summer. To do that, it costs. The parents are sending to those camps because either they can afford or their kids demand it of them. If you are sending to an overpriced camp and can’t afford it, it’s because your allowing your kids to dictate

  25. The chassidishe camps are able to give the kids a blast for a fraction of the cost. The reason is there is less if a need to do crazy things that are expensive. Additionally, there are wealthy people in that kehila that help run it effectively and efficiently by donating their time and money.

  26. As someone who runs a Yeshivah and a daycamp here are some facts:
    1. Most sleep-away camps are barely making it. Their overhead is enormous in comparison to what their charging.
    2. There’s only one reason you’re paying the same for camp as for school. Yeshiva education is the responsibility of the Yeshiva and not just the parents, hence they have no choice but to give you a significant tuition break. Since they don’t have the option of denying you a Torah education, you get away with being able to dictate to them how much you are willing to pay. Camps on the other hand are not mechuyav to give you a scholarship so you end up paying for the actual cost.
    3. Here’s what I find even more surprising: Many many people who are tight on money (and pay a third of the tuition cost) somehow find the extra resources to buy their kids expensive e-bikes, scooters and segways. They also somehow manage to go to Uman every Rosh Hashana and drive around in fancy cars.

    Bottom line: If you can’t afford it don’t do it. But don’t fall for your kids peer pressure and then kvetch about it.

  27. I wanted to open a camp to charge less. The prices to buy a camp were so high that I couldn’t figure out even breaking even after paying the mortgage. So unless you bought your camp 59 years ago fir cheap , it’s really hard to buy anything todaffordable. lbe affordable.

  28. I was in the business. The profit margin is not nearly what you think it is. Perhaps the owner is supporting his family off it. Most often they need another side income to close the gap. There are some camps that do a little better than that, but they are often the ritzy luxury camps.

    I once cold called a camp owner who was a known tightwad to take in a boy who needed to get away from a difficult home situation. He took him in without a kvetch based on the paltry sum I could raise. When the child’s eyeglasses broke in camp the “tightwad” camp owner sent the camp driver to get him a new pair. I never got a bill for that.
    Some of what drives prices up is the competition which forces camps to constantly up the ante if they want to stay in the game.

    When I was a camper we couldn’t have fans in the bunkhouses. Today the bunkhouses are air-conditioned. We went from learning on picnic tables to fully outfitted classrooms. From “learning groups” with High School Bochurim to Classes from top professional Rebbeim. From barely edible food to gourmet meals. That is a monster of our own making.

    If on the count of 1…2…3! all camps would cancel out of camp trips, lower food standards, cut their prize and sports budgets, and pull the plug on the ACs. Camps could run on 20%-40% less – but would you send your son to the “nebby” camp?

    I have no skin in the game. I am out of this line for a while. I don’t usually respond to threads, but I felt this is an unfair attack on people who really do strive to provide a great experience. It is not fair to denigrate them for trying to keep their businesses viable and earn a living wage.

    • Most intelligent comment on this thread.
      In my business people are always complaining about the prices yet they have no idea about the overhead. The chassidish guy who came recently to clean out my dryer vents makes more per hour than I do. And I went to school till I was 30 to earn a doctorate.

  29. I FEEL SO DEPRIVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Neither I nor any of my ten siblings ever went to sleepaway camp!
    Neither did anyone in my wife’s family!
    Neither did any of my children!
    My parents and my wife’s parents ingrained in us that camp is an unnecessary luxury- what do you need it for.

    All was fine until I read this letter

    Now we have people KVETCHING how dare make camp so expensive.
    To this letter writer, it’s like “how dare you make bread so expensive – I need it to live”.

    I FEEL SO DEPRIVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I finally discovered after all these years that my parents CONNED me into believing that camp is not important.
    I am in a crisis.
    What am I going to tell my children when they ask me why we don’t go to sleepaway campo and they need to go to local day camps?
    What am I going to tell them when they tell me that Reb Yaakov Bender shlita PASKENED that camp is a necessity, not a luxury?
    Ribono shel Olam, please help me survive this brewing crisis…

  30. B”H we live in a out- of-town community that has a Chabad gan Izzy for the younger kids and for the boys in 5-9 grades ,one of the frum school’s rebbeim runs a wonderful day camp with sports,hiking , and trips all in our area . The kids bring lunches from home .Very affordable for most of the families and there are resources available for those who can’t.

  31. It is very difficult. I pay around $10,000 each child tuition (I presume the writer has lower tuition). I’m not sending my kids to sleepaway this year as its too expensive (around $2500 each kid). Tuition is our priority. We will probably go on a family trip one half and then they will work second half. It’s hard but these are the choices we decided to make.

  32. For this reason, I only send my children to Agudah camps, because the Agudah only works for the interest of the Klal. For the upcoming summer tuition is close to $3000 for the 3-1/2 weeks of camp. I am assuming that the camps that are a business probably charge close to $4000 or $5000.


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