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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Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,
I am writing this letter because I feel that something must be done about the nightmare that camp visiting day has become. It is a situation that needs an airing, and while we may not be able to influence events on the world scene, this is something that is definitely in our hands and could ease the burdens of many families.
My husband and I are the parents of five wonderful children (bli ayin hara), with, Baruch Hashem, a sixth on the way. My husband works very hard, but by the time the deductions are made from his paycheck, there is not much left. I try to supplement his income with a part-time job. It is not easy, but we manage to pay our bills, even if there is nothing left at the end of the year.
My parents are not in a position to help and my in-laws are divorced and have their own problems. As for my siblings, they are struggling as well. I write all this to give you a better understanding of the dynamics of our family. I don’t think our challenges are too different from the challenges most other families have to contend with these days.
It is a sacrifice for us to send our children to camp. Nevertheless, as difficult as it is to write checks for camp fees, we don’t want our children to feel deprived or different from their friends, and we do not think this is a matter of spoiling or indulging them.
Nowadays, camp is not a luxury (although there may be some who consider it as such); if we didn’t send our children to camp, they would be totally lost during the summer.
And now, to the immediate reason for my letter – the visiting day nightmare.
It feels like ten minutes after the kids shuffle off to camp it’s already time for visiting day. Like it or not we have to go. All the other parents are going, and if we’re not there our children will feel deprived and abandoned.
I have always felt these visiting days are ridiculous. I dread them. The traffic is horrendous; we have an older car and more often than not it overheats. There is always some problem on the road – a flat, the little ones are crying, whining, getting carsick, and having to make pit stops every other mile.
Then, when we finally arrive at camp (between our girls and boys we have to visit two different ones, the logistics of which is another nightmare), the kids immediately clamor to be “taken off grounds” to get something good to eat.
So we head toward the nearest village (which is a nightmare in itself as well as an unnecessary expense). By the time we finish, we have run up a sizeable bill. Finally, it’s time to get back to camp, tip the counselors and waiters (another hefty sum), go through the traumatic weeping goodbyes (my daughter always gets very emotional), and pile into the car for our trip back to the city. If the trip up was bad, the return is ten times worse. The traffic is more congested, the little ones are tired and cranky, and we return home muttering to ourselves “Never again!”
Each camp visiting day generally costs us more than $300, what with gas, tolls, tips, snacks for the kids, getting something to eat “off the grounds,” etc. (And of course that’s on top of the steep price we pay for the camp itself.) No matter how frugal we try to be, the cost is tremendous, and we can ill afford it.
In view of this physical, emotional, and financial wear and tear, I would respectfully recommend that visiting day be abolished. I think the camp directors would be happy to do so, since visiting day interrupts the routine to which the children had finally acclimated. As for the parents, they would certainly be grateful. I have spoken to many people and they all agree they could do very well without this aggravating day.
We have enough to contend with in our lives, and this is one pressure that could easily be eliminated.
(To be continued)