An open letter from your son’s counselor and learning teacher in response to the letter published on COLlive.com – 2 Emails Alerted Me to a Growing Problem in Our Midst:
The summer’s almost over, and it’s been a crazy time. Your child had a blast. Being surrounded by the environment of Gan Yisroel – a day full of davening, learning, sports and friendship. Memories to last a lifetime are being made, whilst seeds of life lessons are being planted.
Of course, this happens with the hard work of many, many individuals planning months before discussions of summer plans even begin. But like a builder who toils, doing the ‘dirty work’ to complete the project, there are three specific individuals who directly take care of, and are dedicated to your son during his time in camp.
These are your son’s Counselors and his Learning Teacher. The responsibility of your children throughout the day is the Counselors’, and the careful balance of discipline, love and trust are the Learning Teacher’s during the hours of learning class.
However, this is not a job confined by a few hours. This extends to the entire 24/7 a child goes through in Gan Yisroel.
When your son has a nightmare — we are the ones they wake up at night.
When he can’t fall asleep — we sit with him up till 2 am.
When he has a headache — we are the ones making sure he gets the proper medication and feels better.
And when your son is crying because he had a hard day — we are the ones there for him.
You know better than us when he gets into his moods, when he just doesn’t stop kvetching and you had a long and hard day, you didn’t sleep the night before, and your patience runs out.
Now imagine the same scenario, but in camp, we are humans too, we also have our hard days – but when those moments happen, there is only response that we have. We turn around and smile, because the only language we know is the language of love and smiles, because to your child we are his best friends, taking care of every need, whether it be physical, emotional and spiritual.
No matter if we slept the night before, after multiple meetings, preparing for the next day, or periodically discussing every child in our bunk with the Head Staff, and making sure all their needs are met, no matter if we are having a hard day, and no matter if your son is appreciative and mentchlich or not.
Because to us it makes no difference, we care for him.
No matter what.
In other words, we are taking over the job as your child’s parents for 1 to 2 months (willingly and happily!), however minus the authority and stability of parenthood.
Now let’s take everything we’ve said, and add another 14 (each precious and unique) other children to the mix. But wait, take all this and realize we’re 18-19 years old. We are not trained mechanchim, and despite many of us having experience from previous years of camp, like everyone, we have our limits.
So now, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, if it’s so hard, why would you sign up to such a thing. Leave the job to someone else, there’s probably other bochurim that would gladly take your spot.
The answer is simple. We are a part of our generation that were born and raised after Gimmel Tammuz. However, we have been raised and ingrained with a sense of responsibility for other Yidden, and being campers ourselves for many years, we desire to be part of a child’s camp story. We clearly remember our counselors and learning teachers’ care for us – be’gashmiyus uv’ruchniyus, and it is our greatest zechus to witness first-hand the life-changing and far-reaching effects of the Rebbe’s Gan Yisroel.
However, even though it is a shlichus which we lovingly jumped to do, we ask for one thing – your appreciation.
Appreciation for wiping away that nightmare and the tears.
Appreciation for telling him five stories till he fell asleep.
Appreciation for walking him to the EMT, even though a band-aid over his cut would’ve worked.
Appreciation for explaining the halacha to your child two more times till he was confident he understood it.
Appreciation for the patience as your child disrupted the class.
Appreciation for sitting down with your child, and gently asking him what bothered him during class.
And all in all, appreciation for the (one or) two months of constant attention poured on your son, ensuring the best summer of his life.
We all grew up with the idea of ‘Hakoras Hatov’, and we were shown this clearly when the Rebbe personally gave a tip to a waiter during one of his visits to Gan Yisroel.
So please, we’re not asking to be paid full-time. All we are asking for is your appreciation. Next time you see an email with an opportunity to tip us, think of all the above. Think of the early mornings, the late nights, and everything in between.
Sincerely, your dear child’s counselor and learning teacher