This weeks This American Life consists of several recorded stories about sleep away camp. There are two stories with Jewish content, one at 21:24 about a Wisconsin Zionist Camp and one at 29:59 about an IDF camp for both American and Israeli kids.
- Do you think camp is necessary?
- Should there be an age limit for people attending camps?
- Should 22 year old yeshiva boys and girls still be going to camp?
- As a parent would you rather have your son or daughter get a job and experience some real responsibility as a young adult?
- Is summer camp just another part of our society's infantilization of young men and women?
- Is there anything creepier than a grown man being excited for summer camp?
I was never a camp person, I never enjoyed or cared about organized sports. When I reached high school I went to a camp which is no longer extant called Heller which had the reputation of being a "learning camp". I thoroughly enjoyed the camping experience there, which may be because it was popular then to seem indifferent to the camping experience. Sneaking out of meals, skipping activities, and ignoring lifeguards was a daily occurrence and that's what made the whole thing enjoyable.
The camp I attended while in elementary school, Romimu, was more sports oriented. If I were on this weeks show I would have shared this story from then:
For some reason it was a huge honor to claim you knew someone working in the canteen. If you had an "in" with someone on the staff there you might as well have been James Dean, you were cool. One year I knew the head of the canteen, he let me work behind the counter on one or two occasions and I would have done it every day, for free, if he let me.
One year a friend of mine in a different bunk who we all knew to have a canteen connection came into our bunk after curfew to take orders. It was all very thrilling and illegal and we all put in orders and gave him our money. I ordered a frankfurter. About an hour later he came back with a box of food claiming he was only able to fill the frankfurter orders, anything else ordered was not available and he put the box down and left.
There was certainly something fishy about the whole thing. For one the frankfurter was cold and burnt, secondly, there were no buns, and thirdly, how could the canteen be out of onion rings?
I decided we should sneak out to James Dean's bunkhouse a few doors down to investigate the matter. When we got there we learned that he never even went to the canteen. His bunk had a BBQ the night before with many uneaten frankfurters leftover. What he did was turn on his gas BBQ in the shower stall in the back of their bunkhouse to heat up un-refrigerated 24 hour old meat and sold that to us.
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