Editor’s Note: Rebbetzin Jungreis, a”h, is no longer with us in a physical sense, but her message is eternal and The Jewish Press will continue to present the columns that for more than half a century have inspired countless readers around the world.
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Last week’s column evoked much comment from our readers and I would like to express my appreciation to all who took the time to write. Most of those who responded agreed with the woman whose letter I shared – camp visiting days are expensive and aggravating for parents. Some others, though, disagreed.
To be sure, there is validity to both sides of the argument. It’s like that well known story of the man comes went to his rebbe to complain about a lack of shalom bayis. The rebbe nodded his head sympathetically.
The following day, the man’s wife appeared and presented her point of view. Once again the rebbe nodded with understanding.
After the woman left, the rebbetzin turned to the rebbe. “Yesterday,” she said, “you agreed with the husband; today you agreed with the wife. How can they both be right?”
To which the rebbe replied, “You’re also right.”
There are situations in life that are not black and white. One young man I heard from wrote so articulately about his own camp days, presenting a strong and cogent argument. He posited that visiting day was one of the most important experiences for him and his fellow campers, providing an opportunity for “checks and balances.”
It’s important for camp directors to know that watchful parents would be examining every aspect of camp life. Such scrutiny encourages higher performance, not only on the part of camp directors but counselors as well.
While he empathized with those parents who experience a financial crunch and view tipping as an unnecessary added burden, he nevertheless felt it was a worthwhile investment that would yield high dividends. Counselors have to know that parents are rating them and tipping them on the basis of their performance. Unfortunately, incentives such as these are necessary for quality service.
He also pointed out that visiting day enabled counselors to get to know the parents, giving them a keener understanding of campers’ individual needs.
Additionally, he wrote, there is the human element: one would think that most parents and children miss each other and that after a few weeks of separation they’re anxious to see one another.
Those who objected to the high cost of visiting days also had valid arguments. And there were those who complained about the wear and tear of this one-day trip to the country during which parents often have to make stops at two or three camps.
Moreover, most of the letter writers agreed that the fees charged by the camps should be more than adequate to pay counselors a decent salary without demanding extras from the parents.
Before concluding, I’d like to address the complaint of some readers who asked why I was focusing on a problem as trivial as camp visiting day in light of all the serious problems confronting us in the “real world.”
Of course, there is something to that argument as well. But no matter how difficult and critical our larger challenges may be, we cannot simply dismiss the concerns of our families.
Individuals and families often consult me on issues that others would no doubt consider minor, but I try to address their concerns seriously. I learned this early on from my dear, revered father, HaRav HaGaon Avraham Halevi Jungreis, zt’’l, who listened patiently and intently to even the most trivial problems that people brought before him. So while camp visiting day may be a non-issue to some readers, it is a major concern to a lot of others.
Is there a solution? As I noted, this is not a black and white situation. Nevertheless, the problem needs to be addressed, and camp directors and parents need to act in unison. They should consult with those who have expertise in chinuch (education) in order to benefit from their experience and wisdom. Certainly nothing should be done without Da’as Torah.
Whatever the decision, it should apply to all parents. Obviously, it would be detrimental for some children to have visitors while others have none. Children would feel forsaken and embarrassed if the parents of their fellow campers visited and they were alone.
Here again, we can take our cue from our Torah: When Moshe Rabbeinu charged the Tribes to go forth and do battle against the Midianites, he refrained from ordering the princes to lead, as was customary, for the Tribe of Simon had lost its prince and Moshe did not want its members to be put to shame.