I returned last month from a marvelous two-month stay in a sleepaway girls camp, where I was employed as a head staff member. What an amazing experience! Seeing first-hand how the girls grow in ways they cannot during the year was a zechus I enjoyed and cherish.
I found one element of the camp experience disturbing, though: the noise level. It simply is unacceptable. All summer long, hundreds of youngsters are bombarded by loud noise during meals, events, dancing, performances etc. If an occasional wedding is harmful, imagine the damage of the equivalent of a wedding several times a day! It’s frightening.
Anything above 85 decibels is hazardous to our hearing. And yet, the music at most simchas and camps registers at 120-130 decibels, or even higher.
Often the sound systems are in the hands of teenagers, who don’t realize the harm of loud music and who just want to belt out the loudest cheers and most lebedig music. They hold the mikes right nears their mouths and scream at the top of their lungs. It’s geshmak, it’s fun, but it’s also unsafe! It must stop!
Parents send their children off to camp trustingly, never imagining that they may return home with their hearing permanently damaged for life, chas v’shalom. Hearing loss is painless, progressive, and permanent.
Every camp should invest in a decibel monitor – which isn’t an expensive device – and set up its sound system in such a way that the sound cannot go above a safe level. It is incumbent upon parents to follow up on this suggestion and make sure their children aren’t being harmed.
As I watched the girls have a blast this summer, singing and cheering their hearts out to unbelievably loud music (I stuck fingers firmly in my ears at such times), I worried about the hundreds of tender ears that may very well pay a price for this fun a few years down the road.
The rest of the staff chuckled at me indulgingly, dismissing me as a clucking mother hen. Perhaps I am one, but I will keep clucking.