CAMP IS COMING
What to Send, What to Skip
By Avigayil Reichman - Camp Mother
It’s camp time and your zeese son is going to sleep-away camp for the first time. He is looking forward to it and so are you. But, wait a second- what does going to camp mean exactly? You won’t be there to make sure that he brushes his teeth, showers and says Krias Shema. You can’t help him prepare his clothing for the morning and make sure he changes everything daily. What about his nails, polishing his shoes for Shabbos, making sure his suit is neatly hung up after Havdolah? How will your precious tzadikel get through the days and weeks without your constant caring, direction, help and a little nudging?
Not to worry-we at Camp Bonim have experienced and caring administration and staff members who are eager and happy to spend the summer with your son to help him have the best time possible, while seeing to his needs and making sure he is one happy camper. Here is what you can do prepare him for a wonderful camp experience.
1. Order labels-The preferable kind is the sew-on labels that will stay on the clothing through numerous washes. If that is not feasible, then iron-on labels are acceptable. Laundry markers do not remain legible through camp washes and since the whole bunks laundry is done together, clothing that is not marked legibly may not be returned, especially if a boy does not recognize his clothing or he is not in the room when it is being given out.
2. Please label all of your son’s clothing, INCLUDING HIS TZITIS,
shoes (with a permanent magic marker on tape), his Shabbos clothing (suits, blazers, shirts, and ties), and his raincoat. Don’t forget 99% of the boys have navy blue or black suits and jackets that look exactly alike. If a jacket gets left in the dining room, it will not be easy to find by the time your son realizes it’s missing and remembers to look for it.
3. Send a two-week supply of clothing including socks and under wear. It does take 3-4 days from the time his laundry is collected until it is given out, after it arrives from the laundry service. Laundry is not done during the nine days and from the pickup a few days before the nine days, till delivery of the clothing washed after the nine days there are approximately two weeks. Socks and under wear have a way of disappearing either before or after they are sent to the laundry service. Tell your son to expect this so he won’t be dismayed if it does happen. Be prepared to bring more of these items on Visiting Day.
4. It is best to send dark colored clothing and clothing that can be washed and dried in a commercial dryer to camp. You might want to go out and buy your son a whole new summer wardrobe for camp, but that is not a good idea. Clothing is easily stained by grass, mud and certain foods, which do not usually come out unless they are pre-treated. (Camp laundry services are not able to pre-treat every child’s stained clothing.) Also, any new item of clothing that is 100% cotton will shrink when put in the dryer. Your son will be disappointed when his new T-shirt comes back much smaller after it is washed. It is a better idea to send him to camp with older clothing and buy him a new wardrobe in time for the school year. If you are sending him with new T-shirts, please make sure to wash and dry the 100% cotton items before you send them to camp to avoid shrinkage in camp.
5. Linen is another subject I’d like to bring up. Your son comes to camp with a beautiful set of linen for the bed, which includes a quilt cover over the quilt. By day three, this quilt in the cover is a sorry sight. It has bumps and lumps that Yankele, and perhaps his counselor, have no idea how to straighten out. If he takes the quilt out to straighten it or wash it, he has no clue as to how to fit that huge quilt into that small quilt cover opening. Therefore, it is preferable to avoid quilt covers altogether and to send a dark colored quilt with a sheet set. No top sheets are necessary as this poses another problem. Please send four-cornered sheets, not flat sheets to camp, which will not stay on a bed during the night and are impossible to keep neat. Dark sleeping bags are a good choice for camp.
6. Now I’d like to discuss a sensitive subject-bedwetting. I’m not going to call it enuresis, nighttime problems, etc. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m very sensitive to all aspects of the situation. I think the most important aspect of dealing with a bedwetting child is discretion, taking whatever precautions necessary to keep this matter private, not from the administration or counselor, but from the other children in the bunk. To accomplish this, it is very important that you let the administration know about it beforehand. We have ways of dealing with these situations so that these children will not live in fear of being found out and have a very tense and unhappy camp experience. Even if your son hasn’t had a problem in a while, it is much smarter to let the camp know that the possibility exists. Once the counselor is aware, he can keep an eye on the situation and help keep it a private matter. For some children, I would suggest Goodnites, which will keep the linen from getting wet & therefore he will be less anxious. They can be disposed of in a plastic bag. I also suggest sending a child who has this tendency with 2-3 quilts. They should not be wool, which cannot be dried, and they should not be sleeping bags, which barely fit into washing machines. I think that a bed-wetting child should not bring plastic or rubber sheets to camp, as this is a sure giveaway to other children that a problem exists. With sensitivity and subtlety, we, the camp administration can avoid this problem from becoming an issue for your child and his peers.
7. Do explain to your son that the nosh you send with him to camp should not be eaten before breakfast or instead of meals. It is there for snacking after meals only. It should certainly not be finished all in one day! It is not imperative that you send cases of snacks. He will not starve. Maybe he will eat more food at meals if he doesn’t have mounds of junk food awaiting him in the bunk. That’s what canteen, UPS, and Visiting Day is for.
8. Please do not send expensive items to camp with your son, such as cameras, watches, palm pilots and computer games. Disposable cameras will take great pictures and these other items are not necessary for camp. We’d like the boys to get out and play and have fun with their friends.
Camp will be an exciting, wonderful experience for your son and his friends (old and new). With a little planning, a good attitude and a sense of adventure, your son will have the time of his life!