Monday, June 25, 2007

Know Your Jewish Community: Summer Camp

It seems like everyone is sending their kids to Summer camp from Treppenwitz to Marie Lyn Bernard who went to Jewish Summer Camp as a child.

Rabbi Paul Kipnes has a post on who the real constituents are of Summer camps, where he suggests that as great as the experience is for the campers, the staff are also benefitting from the camp experience. JSpot and MyJewishLearning.com both have pieces on the educational component of Jewish camps, something that "anonymous mother" on Imamother.com worries about. this particular woman is concerned that her child will be unduly influenced by less "frum" kids at camp, a worry that may cause her not to send the child at all.

Meanwhile, Camp Ramah in Wisconsin has a blog of its own (in addition to a summer Kollel*, if you were unaware). Apropos of that, Revuen M. Lerner of Altneuland posted a meditation on head coverings which started when he attended a Ramah camp.

Personally I am torn about Jewish summer camp. I think that it is a terrific institution, but for kids who also go to day school, it means that they rarely, if ever get to socialize with non-Jews in a formal setting pre-college. Again, I'm aware of the problems with sending one's child to a camp that isn't specifically Jewish (not shomer shabbat, shomer kashrut, etc), and the benefits of a different educational setting, but I'm bothered by the thought that I could potentially raise my (hypothetical) children to the age of 18 with few to no non-Jewish friends.

6 comments:

Sherbs said...

I may be wrong, but I think the second thing to Israel that will ensure a child's Jewish identity is a Jewish summer camp. I am the product of several summer camps (a Y federation, a movements, non-Jewish day camp, temple day camp, but I was 3-5 so I don't really remember that last one). My parents both went to summer camp in the 50s and 60s (my dad through the 70s) and their camp wasn't Jewish per say but there were services and kosher food and 90% Jews. So regardless of where you send your kids, if it's in the Northeast, it'll be Jewish. And fun. I love camp.

I personally got to socialize with non-Jews at girl scouts. Which was also fun. Man, I regret not becoming a cadet

Annie said...

Sherbs- I agree that Jewish summer camp is great, but if you are also sending your kid to day school, then in many cases scouts are no longer an option (my troop met right after my primary school ended, at 3:20pm, way too early for day school kids). And local sports are often on Saturdays.

Not knocking camp, but it is something to consider.

orieyenta said...

Darn and I was thinking about sending Little Orieyenta to "Camp Annie and Harley" this year. :)

Actually I send her to a non-Jewish camp and like everything it has it's ups and downs. The other kids make fun of her kosher lunches or they'll have pizza brought in and forget that it's not kosher....it will all be pepperoni. (I tell her that they are just jealous because they are not cool enough to keep kosher. I wonder how long that will work!) At the same time, all of her non-Jewish friends are there and she loves that. So what's a mom to do?

Annie said...

Orie- as a kid who had to bring kosher lunches, I'd suggest have her bring something desireable that other kids will want to share, and enough to share.

I'm wary of "not cool enough to keep kosher" but I remember how hard it was to be a little kid that was different.

Also, LO can totally come play with us. We love children. Or at least I do.

sarah said...

I went to two music "camp" (if you can call the insanity of Tanglewood a camp), which were mostly Jews. Or, a lot of Jews. Lots of people kept kosher and shabbos, and it was never really a problem. One was on a college campus, so the dining hall ordered kosher meals the same way they did when school was in session. The only real problem I could see was the dance at the end--there was only one shomer negiah guy (and his sister, but she was 9, and most of the 9-year-olds didn't dance anyhow), and it was awkward for him, but I think he managed. Anyhow, since I was in hebrew school most days after school, it was nice to be able to focus on what I didn't get during the school year.

It was also a great opportunity for people to discuss how we would negotiate the secular music world as adults--would we try to live near both a shul and a concert hall (66th street?) so we could still perform on Saturday nights, at least in the summer? etc. etc.

I can't think of anything worse than nusach camp all summer.

BZ said...

I may be wrong, but I think the second thing to Israel that will ensure a child's Jewish identity is a Jewish summer camp.

Is this from those studies where correlation ensures causation?