Social distancing is still a thing and for some, this means that you may need to run your Jewish summer camp at home. You, the parents, are the counselors, division heads, director, sports staff, dancing instructors, nurses and then when they come home from camp, you are the parents. This will make it very difficult to implement letter writing to parents at camp, but it must be done.

Just because they cancelled your Jewish summer camp doesn’t mean that your children should miss out. Camp is where Jewish identity is formed. Jewish tradition is rooted in free swim, bunk politics and gaga. Nobody should deny their child the Jewish experience of being woken up to a bugle.

Programming this experience is not an easy task. You must prepare. And I will help you with that. Here are the staples of what you will need to bring those Jewish summer camp into your home.

Hebrew

Anything you do, say it in Hebrew and it’s a program. Hebrew is the secret to the job of the Jewish camp program director. Say it in Hebrew and it’s now a Jewish summer camp activity. “Snacks” is not a program. Nishnushim however is. It’s exciting. It’s fun. Nishnushim is Hebrew. Twisting the top of your Oreo is an activity now. Arucha Achshav is how you say “lunch is now” if you want to help build Jewish identity.

For a true Jewish camp experience, mix the Hebrew with one word of English so that the kids understand part of what you’re saying. Camp Home is now Camp Bayit. At least they know that whatever you are talking about is a camp.

The time to brush up on your Hebrew is now!

Counselors

Your children’s connection to Judaism is dependent on their camp experience. For this reason, we leave teenagers in charge. Your older child should have full control of the little ones. That’s how you bring the counselor experience of your child being watched over by a fourteen-year-old to Camp Bayit. Give the older kids power over the younger ones and your younger children will want to cry, rounding out their Jewish summer. This also helps with the Tisha B’Av program.

Color War

This is where you dress your children in different colored shirts and have them continue the altercations from the previous day. Fights are going to happen between the children, even if your high school freshman is running the camp. Do your best to amplify it using competition.

Bang Things and Be Loud

That is how you wake kids up and build excitement at 5am. Remember, it’s camp time, which means we’re stealing an hour of sleep from the kids, and putting them back in bed at 6pm, when it’s still light outside.

Scream with enthusiasm at all times. You need a loud head of camp to remind the kids they are excited.

Use a loudspeaker for everything. This works during all activities, including flag raising, snacks and rest time. Don’t diminish the importance of loudspeaker use during the silent prayer.

Packages

Nothing says camp like kids receiving stuff in cardboard boxes. Go to Costco and take as many boxes as you can. There is no greater excitement than opening a box by ripping off tape.

As you are also working as the camp office, make sure you load up the foyer with boxes to recreate the feeling of having an Amazon warehouse at the entrance to the camp.

Overnight

Stick the kids somewhere in the woods and leave them. Make sure that you’ve worked the buddy system, so that when they get lost at least two of them can’t be found.

As counselors are not there to teach survival skills, the bears could potentially be an issue. But don’t worry, it’s camp and it is not your responsibility. A sleeping bag is protection enough. Overnights are about building what is known as faith.

Arts and Crafts for Usefulness

We’re not going to make a Mezuzah out of clay this year. “Arts and crafts” is about using what you have. The kids already have the masks. Why not try painting them. Then instead of being unable to breathe they’ll be inhaling paint fumes.

Your kids should wear these masks when you go to the grocery. Don’t worry, no one will make fun of them when you tell them you are with the crew from Camp Bayit Schwartz Family.

Everywhere You Go Sing “Bang Bang Clap”

This is the perfect song to remind the kids that you are being loud.

Jewish summer camp is founded in excitement that you don’t need to explain, and that is best expressed by stomping and singing “bang bang clap b-bang b-bang clap clap.” This will have the little ones full of camp spirit, in a constant state of battle with colors and losing their voices.

Place Screen Doors Everywhere

If the loudspeaker isn’t loud enough, the slamming of screen doors on springs will have your kids connecting with their inner-camp. Screen doors should be placed at the entrance to their rooms, along with removal of carpet and all tempurpedicness, so that any movement will wake them up, giving them the full camp experience when sleeping.

Put Nametags on Clothes

This is something you should’ve done a long time ago. Your youngest didn’t lose her skirt – it just ended up in her brother’s drawer.

At Camp Bayit, you just need the first name, as you won’t find another fifteen Davids living under your roof.

Letter Writing

Letter writing will finally happen. Why do your kids never send you a letter? Now they have no excuses, unless if USPS doesn’t deliver from the second floor.

Scream out “Ktivat Michtavim Time” on the loudspeaker. You see. Now it’s a program.

Errands

Amazing activity. This isn’t a regular camp activity, but you need it. Finally, you can get your stuff done. Take the kids grocery shopping, to the bank and even the post office. You can call it a Field Trip. “Today’s activity is doing what mom needs to do… For next week’s Field Trip, we’re all going to Pilates.” To make it an official program, remember to say it in Hebrew: Shope, Bonk, Piloties.

Cleanup Time

This is another physical activity for the young ones that can save you money.

As your kids can’t go to camp this summer, and you’re giving them the ultimate Jewish experience at home, it’s best that you get out of there. Camp is all about not being with your parents. Take a nice vacation and leave the kids. It will have the same feeling as an overnight. Just make sure you’re back at the house for Visiting Day.

Anymore questions about how to run your Jewish summer camp at home, look it up in the Hebrew dictionary.