Getting ready for summer camp. In November.

A few days ago, I wrote a little about my own experiences at sleep away camp, at Habonim Camp Moshavah, in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I have so many cherished memories of these years, and I have no doubt that the Jew, and the citizen of the world I am today, was shaped profoundly by those few years.


Even before I had children, I fantasized about sending them off for summers at Mosh, where they’d have the same wonderful experiences I did – revolution, when the madrichim were run out of camp for 24 hours, an hour of avodah before breakfast, cans of generic soda for Shabbat dinner, musical serials about anti-semitic ticks, and overnight hikes to nowhere….I could go on. And on. And on.



Now that we’ve moved to New England, it’s not so likely that I’ll send my kids to camp in Maryland (even thought there is a contingent of Mosh kids from the Pioneer Valley.)  And I realize that’s ok. There are many amazing Jewish summer camps, all of which can provide my kids with memories to last a life time. And really, sleep away camp isn’t about having your parents’ wonderful experience. It’s about having your own. And not even telling your parents about it, because they just couldn’t possibly understand… 


Although my older daughter, Ella, is only seven, and has yet to spend a single night away from home, I’m starting to think about where she and Zoe might attend camp. Right now, I’m leaning strongly toward (as in counting the minutes until they can go)  Eden Village Camp.    It’s a camp that reflects so many of the values I’m trying to teach them – love of Judaism practiced both traditionally and creatively, a strong sense of stewardship for the earth, and a love of the outdoors. I’ve organized several events in our town to promote the camp, and taken my girls to family events at the camp, hoping that by the time they are ready to attend, there will be many familiar faces. 


The hardest thing for me to let go of is that I can’t spend the summer there. The directors have tried to convince me that there are plenty of “older” staff. (“Most of our counselors are in their late 20’s!” offered director Yoni Stadlin, in an attempt to be reassuring.) And while a few peers did work at camp (as
nurses and cooks) I know deep down that I need to let my girls have the same kind of summer camp experience I had. Where mom and dad are miles, and what feels like worlds, away. Their camp. Not mine. 


But it’s not going to be easy.

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Sarah Buttenwieser

posted November 22, 2010 at 7:01 am

I am a *big* believer in summer camp (even though the only one to go away thus far is the third guy, & he did it at age seven).
And I totally agree: especially since you teach at their school, you have to work at Mosh & send them to Eden Village. Or just stay home.

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posted November 22, 2010 at 7:03 am

I hear you on this! Not quite ready to count down sending them away, and I never went to overnight camp, but I would love to go to EVC, too. There’s always family camp?

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posted November 22, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Dude, that link goes to Eden Village Retirement Home. I definitely don’t think your kids are ready.
(Hey, my cousins went to Mosh in the early 80s! Know any Naparsteks?)

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NInaYour Name

posted November 22, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I am a big believer in summer camps too. For many kids camps form their identities. Lucky me went to Habonim Camp Tavor in the early 70s and then got to work at Eden Village and send my youngest there last summer. IT IS AMAZING!!! Since I’ve worked at summer camps where my kids were campers before (including many years at Tavor) I’ve pretty much figured out how to let my kids be away at camp even though I’m there. The hardest thing for me was I wanted to be a camper all over again.

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Ash&Izzy's Momma

posted November 22, 2010 at 10:12 pm

I just wanted Amy to know how much I love and learn from this blog when I get a chance to catch up. I can’t weigh in too heavily on the Jewish Camp thing, however. From age 9 to 13 I went to a horseback riding camp in Northern VT. I don’t think that Brook, Haley or Kate gained much in the cultural enrichment dept. either… So, Miz Meltzer, please keep writing! Maybe I will learn what avodah is by next year’s entry!

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posted November 22, 2010 at 10:59 pm

How right on you are, Amy! And for my children, born of two different summer camp traditions, this is even more true.
On the subject of “you can’t go back” check out Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk. A thirty-something returns to his summer camp for one last season before getting married. A fun read.
I like to think of little pieces of me as camper and counselor, still at waterfronts, in heder ochel, on a bus singing Indigo Girls. Time isn’t linear, right? So I can still be there and here at the same time…

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Kate Haas

posted November 23, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Long time lurker, first time commenter. I can’t say anything about Jewish camp, but I had a terrific time at a little Quaker farm camp in Pennsylvania, Journey’s End Farm Camp ( And as a Jewish kid not being raised Jewish, I loved hanging out with the many Jewish kids who went there. Lots of memories of sitting on the dock listening to them trade Hebrew names, etc. And I could probably still milk a cow if I had to.
I really enjoy your site and especially all the talk about books!

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posted November 24, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Check out family camp. I distinctly remember spending a long weekend at a camp with my family before the summer sessions started. Lots of camps do them, some for a few days, some for a week or two. And the parents get to have in on the fun, too.

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