July 22, 2024
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July 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Now that it’s almost the summer, it’s about time you started thinking about camp for your kids. Actually, it probably would have been better to have started thinking about this earlier. But who had a chance? Between the winter we’ve had, and then Purim and Pesach, both of which seemed to fall out during the winter, and then before Pesach was even over, we were already counting down to Shavuos.

But basically, if you don’t do it now, your kids won’t end up in a good camp, and then they’ll be home all summer. This might sound nice, until you realize that even though they have the whole house to play in, the only place they want to play, noisily, is on the arm of whatever chair you’re sitting on.

But a lot of people send their kids to camp, because schools for some reason give off for the summer. As a teacher (I teach high school from about 4 to 6 p.m.) I can’t complain. I like having two months off for two hours a day. I get a lot of stuff done during those two hours, by which I mean, “I get to help with supper.”

But as a parent, I’m not thrilled, because I do have other work too, besides for teaching. (I’m a writer.) And we parents can’t just take off work for the summer. Even the two hours that I’m gaining every day is not making up for the seven extra hours that my kids are home. I actually wish there’d be some kind of system where the teachers get off, but the kids don’t.

“But then who’s going to watch the kids?” you ask.

I guess they can watch each other. Though apparently, that’s pretty much what camp is: Teenagers watching kids. There is also a lone adult thrown in, in the form of a head counselor, whose job it is to walk around with a megaphone and announce who’s doing what that day.

The two main activities in camp are singing songs and getting ices. There are also rebbeim in the mornings, but they make sure to hightail it out of there before the head counselor starts walking around with his megaphone, and informing people, really loudly, that he can’t hear them.

Well, that’s day camps. When you send your child to sleepaway camp, the main activities are—well, who knows what they do. They’re not home, is all I can tell you. You see them one day of the month, mainly to bring food and money, and personally witness the only time that month that they made their bed.

And when it comes to camp, there are more choices than ever before. For example, in addition to regular day camps, there is also something called “backyard camps.” Backyard camps are like day camps, except that they can’t call it a day camp, legally, because they don’t run for the whole day. It’s generally run by teenagers with no parental involvement, and apparently they have to get rid of all the kids by 2:30, or the camp is going to melt. Never mind that you’re sending the kids in the first place so that you can go to work, and you generally work past 2:30.

That’s why a lot of parents pick sleepaway camp. The benefit of sleepaway camp, other than giving you a vacation from asking your kids to go to bed every five minutes for the entire night, is that you don’t have to worry about kids coming home in the middle of the day when you’re not home, because for some reason, all these camps, especially those in backyards, decide they have to have off for every single holiday, such as July 4th and Tu B’Av and Cinco de August, and also they have to end at 12:30 on Fridays.

12:30? Shabbos doesn’t start until 8. You’re a teenager. What do you need to do? Go home and make Shabbos? You’re already home!

Also, many backyard camps are run by teenage girls who are way more interested in earning money to pay for themselves to go to camp for the second half than they are in catering to the fact that parents might need a camp to send their kids to for the second half.

Yes, as far as camps are concerned, there are two “halves,” because two months is so long that we have to divide it in half. Officially, for each half, you pay for four weeks, which is actually two weeks plus the Friday of the week preceding them and the Monday of the week after them. Mathematically, once you take out holidays, that’s not even 2 weeks.

But on the other hand, backyard camps are generally cheaper than regular day camps, although the pool is way smaller. It’s clearly designed for people who are about 18 inches tall, and the Morah has to fill it every day while the kids are showing up.

(They can’t keep the water in the pool from day to day, because it’s full of cut grass from several blocks around.)

In a regular day camp, however, there already is a pool, which is on the exact opposite side of town from wherever the camp is. Your bigger camps are also more reliable when it comes to the number of hours and weeks. Also, the ices are better.

But if you’re looking to do something even cheaper, and you have a really nice boss, or none at all, you can do something called “Mommy Camp,” which is like keeping the kids at home, except that you do structured activities and you get to walk around with a megaphone.

Alternatively, we should have all the parents go to camp, and let the kids stay home and watch each other. That’s what “Mommy Camp” should be. You’d think.

By Mordechai Schmutter

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].


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