Jul 11, 2010

Campers' Expectations

In an article about summer camps in the Catskills, the director of Camp Aguda-Bnos and the director of Camp Hedvah both said that they must adjust to new expectations from their campers.  Meir Frischman said, "Our learning groups have been held in these gazebos for decades.  Nowadays, the campers expect air conditioning in their gazebos.  Each of the past three years we've enclosed a few gazebos; this year, we're enclosing three more."

I would like to know where these expectations came from. Surely it was hot in camp for all those decades.  Presumably some campers moaned about the heat all along.  So what made him decide to accede to the campers' wishes for air conditioning? Was it the campers who exerted the pressure or their parents? Did parents say, "We are paying plenty of money and we would like our children to be able to learn comfortably"? What would happen if he said, "We have never had air conditioning and what worked in the past will continue to work"? Would he lose many campers to other camps?

R' Levi: "Comfortable accomodations and standard on-site activities just don't do it anymore.  Girls expect many more trips and special days.  My wife and the head counselor hold weekly meetings beginning in December to organize a fun schedule."

Going away to camp is not good enough.  You have to go off camp grounds in order to have fun.  Having activities on camp grounds is booooring.  The change of scenery from city to camp is not enough.  Why do the girls expect many more trips and special days? Is this about spoiled kids or is it about competition between camps - if one camp puts in a go-kart track, then other camps do the same.  If one camp takes its campers to Hershey Park, ice skating, bowling etc. then other camps follow because otherwise their camp won't be patronized.

Day camps are joining the manic activity frenzy. Someone told me she wanted to keep her 7 yr. old home from a day camp trip, a full day trip to a big amusement park followed by a BBQ.  There was an extra charge involved though this wasn't the main or only reason to be opposed to it.  If this is what is provided a 7 year old, what will you give a jaded 10 year old who has been everywhere and done everything? And how should parents handle it when they are opposed to these extravagant outings for chinuch and other reasons? Should they complain to the director (who will tell them they have the option of not sending their child on the trip)? How should they explain their views to their child?

According to an article in Mishpacha's Family First women's section about sending nosh to kids in camp, "Today's campers aren't as easily impressed as we were when we were kids." The article goes on to describe just how to overcome this challenge with package themes etc. rather than DECRY the situation and offer suggestions on how to properly mechanech children.

Seems to me like a topic that ought to be discussed at conventions and addressed by mechanchim.  Perhaps we need to put forth our chinuch expectations so that there is another message being heard by camp directors.

1 comment:

  1. All the years that I sent my children to a camp in Kalkaska, MI, they swam in the lake with the froggies and the fishies. They just built a beautiful pool so no more swimming in the lake like the previous 2 generations who went to camp did.
    Yeshiva World News had a rabbi giving advice to parents. The advice was that children need the type of snacks that have barter appeal with other children on the playground at school and that parents should look for other ways to save money rather than cut back on expensive snacks.
    I once went to visitors day and a big rav was my back seat passenger. He asked if my children were going on a camp trip to the amusement park and when I answered that they were, he demanded that I tell the camp that the trip was prohibited on the grounds of untznius dress worn by the non-Jewish women there. The camp paid a lot of money for that amusement park since the kids would get "bored" with all the baseball, swimming, arts and crafts, etc at camp. I had to tell the rav that he would carry a lot more clout with the rosh yeshiva at camp than I would as a complaining parent. Camp tuition could have probably been cut in half without the trips.
    I drove a child home from a shul gathering today and she is going into ninth grade and attends BY day camp. I am proud of these parents for not seeking out some expensive 2 month gevaldik kid spoiling camp.
    Maybe someday we will realize that girls don't need a full year in EY to go to seminary. I don't think that this upcoming generation, who were wined and dined in these prestigious institutions will have the means to do that for their kids, unless the economy changes. American sems may just have to do for American girls.