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Summer Camp
Mom with a View

Summer Camp

Yes it's a luxury, but it's worth it.


“Can I go to camp for two months this summer? Please; pretty please. I’ll pay for my plane ticket…”

The begging began as soon as camp ended last summer (when they went for only one month) and finally wore down my resistance. (They actually wore me down even earlier but I had to at least pretend I had some say in the decision!) But other than the fact that I would miss them and that it would make it big dent in our bank balance (okay, the latter is a legitimate concern), why wouldn’t I send them? The benefits are so dramatic, especially for the kids from Los Angeles who start with a trip across the country to that famous home of Jewish camp sites, the Catskills.

Starting with that plane ride, camp helps teach independence (even though I bought the roll of quarters and the soap, they actually do their own laundry!). They are given the opportunity to broaden and deepen their circle of friends (some of my children made their closest lifelong friends at summer camp) and to participate in the larger community.

Camp also offers more exercise than during the school year, when walking to the car and back seems to be the extent of it!. But most of all camp provides spirit.

School, even the most wonderful one, can sometimes be dull. It can be hard. It can be stressful. Even when the learning is engaging, the need to study for tests or write papers may overwhelm the pleasure. The constant work – the quizzes, the presentations, the reports, the final exams – may leave even the most enthusiastic child a little burnt out, a little drained.

Camp is the ultimate refresher. It’s about song and dance and plays and games. There is learning but no tests. It’s all about the joy.

Everyone needs rejuvenation, even our children. And while yes, sleep-away camp is a luxury, I have found it is worth digging deep for. So even though I was actually sad to let them go for two months (I was sad; they barely glanced back!) I know that it is for their good. And even though it’s fun, it’s the kind of fun that nourishes the body and soul and brings them home ready for a new year of learning.

We’ve had some rough bouts of homesickness (these turned out to be the kids who cried the most when camp ended and went back year after year!) and some kids who are just not the “camp type.” But for those who are, I envy their experience (what about a camp for adult women?). And while I miss them, I know they are having a great time (and learning and growing in ways not available in the classroom). I can tell, because they are too busy to call…(What Ima? Wait in those long phone lines???)

July 3, 2010

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 8

(8) Anonymous, July 7, 2010 4:13 PM

Camp is wonderful, but, what about the Jewish Children that cannot afford camp. The parents make too much money for financial help, and do not have enough money to send 2 children? What does a parent do?

(7) Lisa, July 7, 2010 12:58 AM

I love camp!!

Camp is great for the kids--as you've described above--but what about the benefits for the parents?? For those of us lucky enough to have an empty nest for one month out of the year, it brings the opportunity to rejuvenate our marriages and to recharge our batteries for the parenting challenges that the next school year will bring. I dread the year my kids "age-out " of camp, or worse, if one of them (G-d forbid!) decides she doesn't want to go back.

(6) Lisa Goldstein, July 6, 2010 7:09 PM

Camp is the absolute BEST place you can send your children to. The experience a child/teenager can get from camp is filled with love, joy, learning, friendships, first experiences that truely last a lifetime. They learn independence, gain an immense amount of confidence through sports, arts and crafts, swimming, excercise, music, theatrical plays, movies in the evening, nights for siblings, Friday night service, competitions, "clean-up" time. All things and more that help a child to grow without mom and dad there to "hold there hand" through every step. Someone once asked me (I am 38 years old), "If there was ever a time in your life you could re-live, what would it be". Without question, "sleep-away Camp" is my answer.

(5) Anonymous, July 6, 2010 6:46 PM

Camp is Awesome!

My daughter has gone to camps since she was 6. She has learned independence, self sufficiency, and myraid skills from these experiences. Now 14, she will be at camps for a total of 7 weeks this summer. She is happy to be engaged in activities she enjoys, and we are happy she is doing something besides hanging out and going to the mall. We choose camps carefully (including an annual stay at a camp my family has attended for 3 generations) and trust the programs we choose. I am certain that when she goes off to college, she will fare well on her own, able to make friends and function independently.

(4) yehudit levy, July 6, 2010 5:53 PM

somewhere in between...

i have mixed feelings somewhere in between Emuna and comment one: I would gleefully send my children away for some peace and quiet, but then I would feel terribly guilty about being so gleeful about it, and start to wonder about the people looking after my children.... in my mind 2 months is a ridiculously long time. i am Australian, and the longest camp is about 10 days. \i went to camp both as participant and camp leader, and from both ends found that amount of time to be maximal. That's plenty of time for both life learning and socialising, while remaining affordable both financially and spiritually for the parents. And Emuna, do you really expect us to believe that you do it only for the kids? Not even a teeny amount of exhasuted parent relief in there? Come on, be honest!!!

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