"The problem here is a totalitarian uniformity, a cult-like mentality such that even allies are enemies if they fail to follow the Exact Party Line. " - Phyllis Chesler

Monday, August 4, 2008


I don't know about you but when I went to camp things were mighty different than what camp is like for kids today.

At my most recent placement I was asked to send some mail. I looked at the address and it was to a little girl away at camp. I looked up the camp and saw the description of things and I just had to laugh.

First I should tell you this is a camp for Jewish kids. Therefore all food is Kosher. The description of the food made me giggle. Notice what they DID NOT SAY: tasty, delicious or any other adjectives to describe the food...because they know they cannot do so without lying!

Do you remember the food they served you at camp?

Here's their description:

Led by our Food Service Director, YADDA YADDA Jewish Camp offers a wide-variety of food for the ever-growing tastes of our campers and staff. Three hot meals are provided per-day, along with a light snack before bed. The menu has been reviewed by our Food Service Director and local nutritionists. Breakfasts always have cereal and toast available, and lunch and dinner will always have healthy, nutritious options at our salad bar. Friday night Shabbat dinners are especially appetizing, consisting of chicken soup, challah,

For all my non-Jewish readers, and there's more of you than not, let me tell you that chicken and potatos are the staple of any Jewish kids camp experience. If you see a kid who is yellow with some feathers growing from their appendages around August or September, chances are he or she is Jewish and just came back from camp, having eaten just about nothing but chicken.

Kosher chicken is about the only kosher "meat" that doesn't taste like licking a foot and so after bitching and moaning about not having much diversity in food choices, and then being given other food options, you become instantly grateful for that chicken and potato meal. It even makes you grateful for Shabbos and all the forced praying they make you do because you know you are going to get that chicken meal as your reward for praying to g-d that weekend.

I read recently in the NYTIMES, that kids today have an entitlement problems and I really really agree. It's probably one of the only things I can find to agree upon from that rag, achem, I mean newspaper today. They are spoiled and the parents are responsible, so the NYTimes goes on to say and again I agree. Mom and Dad give the kids everything and help their kids avoid the rules. For example no cell phones allowed...well mom and dad will rescue you by giving you two in case one is taken from you.

When I was sent to camp it was up in Bear Mountain in 1979/80. I was the only suburban kid with a bunch of city slickers with potty mouths.

We bunked in cabins with no glass windows. YES you read that correctly. They had screens and that's all. If it rained hard guess what? The bunks looked a little like this one here, minus the Australian flag and well, not as nice.

We had trunks with locks on them and each girl stole from the next. Too bad if you could not catch them. Mom and Dad were not reachable as you had to ask for the pay phone option and that was a privilage to be earned.

As for me, well since I learned a lot of curse words that summer I lost all privilages. Hence my parents never heard from me except for visitors weekend. It's probably the only plus my parents can attribute to all the nice choice words I came home with that summer.

I also lost my canteen privilages and when I did finally get to tell my parents, they backed up the camp. Bet THAT wouldn't happen with today's kids. Our canteen looked a lot like the building on the left of this photo. You'd walk up to the little window and ask for what you wanted.

I believe the camp was built in the 50's and that my father and his cousins went to it when they were my age and it was NEVER updated or fixed up either.

We had sewer toilets too. YEP! And the big thrill was that on one side were the boys and the other the girls. What THIS meant was that we could go in and wait for the boys to pee and see their reflections on our side in the gross sewer toilet. That was a nice city Jewish girl's version of National Geographic.

If I ever wanted to take a shower, I had a lot of second thoughts and my smell was fine by me because the showers were gross! I felt cleaner out of one than in one and the line to get in...ick ick ick.

So back to the camp I took a look at this week. How much was that cost? It was about $2000 for a two-week period of time.

Things have certainly changed, except for the chicken meal!

Well for a good virtual camp experience try this site where the food is always good, the leaders are friendly and you're sure to learn some fun facts.


Candid Carrie said...

Nice plug for me, thank you. I just got an award for having the cleanest restrooms! Thanks!

Da Old Man said...

I never experienced the "joys" of camping. Which is fine by me. It sounds like I didn't miss much.

scratchbags said...

This was a nostalgic post. You really took me back to the time when I camped. Even with so many limitations, I have always enjoyed camping. And yes restrooms have always been quite a tricky business.;)

Lauren said...

Carrie, you run a fun site and it's always nice to show others places to go online that are worthy!

D.O.M., You didn't miss much. Although nowadays it's like a spa. Maybe we should go now?

Scratchbags, I neglected to say I HATED going to camp. It sucked for me. I was bored and well had all privilages taken away. :-( I think with the way they are today I would probably have a blast!

Jessica said...

I never went to camp...always New York! :)Great post.

leezee52 said...

Thanks for wishing me a Happy Birthday!

About the Jewish camp..is that http://njycamps.org/ ?

My Mom and Uncle went to them and that was in the 1930's.

My ex-brother-in-law runs these camps now.

Drowsey Monkey said...

Good memories :) I loved going to camp ever year ... well I did it for 3 years. We had a cabin similar to the one you posted. I mostly remember hamburgers & hotdogs tho, and lots of roasted marshmellows and hotdogs at night time. :)

Marvin the Martian said...

I used to be a counselor at a Jewish day camp. We had a blast. I still remember some of the songs. I don't remember the food at all, though - I don't think we had much; most people brought their own every day.

It's nice to meet you! Thanks for stopping by my little corner during Drowsey's party. Any friend of Drowsey's is a friend of mine!

Lauren said...

Jessica, You didn't miss much. You had the MUCH better experience in my hubble opinion. ;-)

Lee- have no idea if it is under that camp umbrella. Happy Birthday again!

Drowsey, See the key here to remember is that kosher meat doesn't taste the same. It's disgusto! Hamburgers blech! Hotdogs maybe.

Sounds like your camp was WAY better than mine. :-)

Lauren said...

Hey Marvin, Yes Drowsey is way cool!

Day camp oh so differentE than sleep away camp. I went to day camp too. Not Jewish day camp though. Happy Time ...or as the kids mocked it, Crappy Time. However that was fun! I met Reggie Jackson that way!

Rhonda said...

OMG! $2000!!!??? Seriously? That's insane!

I went to Camp Maskapatoon. lol Yes, that's the name. I may have spelled it wrong, but I haven't been there since I was 9 or 10.

It was a lot like what you described, except we did have glass on the windows, and had no place but under or on our bed to put our stuff. It was a free-for-all.

Those were the good old days. lol