Last year, as I kissed my son goodbye on the bus to overnight summer camp and bid farewell, he looked at me and asked me for a significant amount of cash.
When I asked why, he explained in one word: canteen.
Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘Here we go again with another parent complaining about camp…’
So let me be clear: Camp is an amazing place filled with Kedusha, Chayus, and warmth. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into running a camp, and kol hakavod for any and all directors, head counselors and staff members who dedicate their lives to the Chinuch of our children (the Rebbe often pointed out that its effects remained way after the summer season).
So please allow me to discuss the canteen issue specifically, and I hope readers and commentators will remain on topic.
When my son asked me for $200, he explained that it is not “cool” to eat the regular food camp provides, and he needs to keep up with the standard of his friends and buy food at the canteen daily.
There are two problems with this:
1. Peer pressure is the last thing we need our kids going through during the summer because as they get older, this can turn into smoking and other bad addictions caused by peer pressure.
2. As it is, I struggle to pay for the camp tuition, which is quite expensive. On top of that, I need to start paying an extra cost for food from the ridiculously expensive canteen.
I have seen firsthand the prices on items in a camp canteen. A pack of Mike and Ike’s that cost $0.25 in Kahan’s is raised to $1 in camp. There’s no reason for that. It’s called taking advantage of the campers and their parents.
I’m not sure who is the one pocketing all the money from this scheme in each camp.
If it is camp, isn’t tuition high enough as is?
And if it’s the bochurim, why can’t the camp board tell them to put the prices lower?! If a bochur wants to make a little extra money during the summer, find yourself a job working for a local store in Crown Heights. It is not fair for them to make money this way. This needs to stop. Immediately.
I am not trying to point fingers at any camp director for the high tuition rates. All I am pointing out is that the prices in canteen must be regulated and adjusted.
If it was my choice, I would live up to what I’m saying and write my name, but because I wrote some personal information about my financial state, I’d rather remain anonymous. I hope you understand.
Joke? Amongst many of the facts you stayed in your article, many are not true. Such as, Mike and Ikes are no longer $.25 in Kahan’s
Even if so it’s still way overpriced than any other normal store. When I was in camp 10 years ago it still was over price and till this day camps can rip off kids because they camp and the directors are part of it and so to the buchrim that are arranging the canteen they split the profits 50-50 so the camps also get something out of it. So camps would rather it be more expensive so they can make a profit.
False! I have just been in Kahan’s and the mike and Ikes are precisely $.27 this article is true and must be sent to all camp directors
The issue is that the Bochurim coming to camp are coming only to make money, not for the Shlichus, like most staff. But instead of getting a regular job where they’d make roughly thre same much, they’d rather be with friends and make even more off kids who are just giving into peer pressure, and they know this. Camps allow Canteen managers to run a straight up business in their camps, this robbing kids and parents. They jack up the price only because their able to. They completely don’t care about the kid. My friends were canteen managers a few… Read more »
Please do not say loshon hara about a group of ppl. A blanket statement like this about bachurim is false. They are the soul of the camp with out them there is no camp! We are trying to effectively deal with a valid issue why blame I’m public .
You make it sound like canteen is a Buisness owned by all the staff. While, in truth, it is only one Bochur who makes money off canteen… The rest of the staff do not make any money off camp, are you referring to the 200/300$ that camp pays? I personally have been a counsler in camp a few years, and I can attest to the fact that most of that money is spent on the campers for late nights and incentives (and on their own canteen sometimes which they are totally entitled to) So, please give me a brake. Camp… Read more »
I have a son who is BH a counselor and he isn’t getting paid. Buchurim are actually NOT paid. They get $300 in canteen which most is use to treat their campers out as rewards and then whatever they get through tips they bring home.
Most bochurim who I was with as staff looked at camp as a shlichus, and put tremendous effort and money into it for zero physical gain.
Many of my friends left camp with no paycheck because they spent their canteen on their campers. מי כעמך ישראל! אשרנו מה טוב חלקנו!
I’ve sent a few kids to camp with $200 and they spent less then one dollar a day and came back with the rest.
They didn’t care to buy and didn’t care to eat the junk. When kids say they need to keep up its because your child is used to it. As a parent you should work with your kids that they don’t need it.
I can relate, last year my son did not realize the canteen cost money, and spent hundreds of dollars, which afterwards, the camp charged on my credit card.
I was in debt to the credit card company for a while. Thank you for addressing this issue
Not sure what camp your son went to but no canteen lets your son by on credit they can only use what’s on their account
In Parksville when I was a camper I spend over my amount multiple times
Maybe you went to parksville in the 90s
Wow! Sorry this happened to you. We had this issue the first year my son went to camp. He was young, and went through all his canteen money in a week. But the camp only let him spend up to $20 on credit, and then they froze his account. (We found this out on visiting day, when we had to pay his bill)! Reading this, I’m so glad they did what they did, and did not take advantage of the situation by continuing to let him buy whatever he wanted, and then charging us for it. (Also not a good… Read more »
This totally doesn’t make sense.
Kids can’t buy from canteen without money.
If the canteen manager let him buy on credit- it’s not your problem.
Unless you gave your son your credit card to use when he needs- then this is your problem….
My son is not fussy at all, eats every thing. I still found the whole canteen thing very strange.
I suggest make the camp food more like the canteen food so kids eat it. Obviously not everyday because it’s junk food.
I agree with this article fully. Stop the fast food at the canteen, it’s supposed to be a bit of nosh.
The true way to teach your son to be more resistant to peer pressure is to teach him to. be ok doing what he, or what his family, feels is right, regardless of what other kids are doing. There will always be people doing/spending/acting in ways you don’t want your child to. You can’t remove every influence from his life, by asking ppl to not send their kids with lots of money, or asking to lower canteen prices . My very popular son happens to love camp food, so this Is not something I struggle with, but just as when… Read more »
Today it’s all about making money for the camp/business (that money goes to the camp not counselors). Why erev pesach “all of a sudden” prices go up? Doesnt ALL yidden have to observe pesach like EVERYONE?! WHY are yidden taking advantage of their fellow yidden?! AND those prices STAY all year long! So it’s not a “pesach observing thing” anymore, its hiding behind pesach in order to higher their prices. And the following year its starts all over again….
Remember, the store owners are also Yidden who need money.
Also, remember inflation…
In CGI Toronto campers are not permitted to buy pizza, fries, sandwiches etc. It’s for staff members only. We also keep our canteen prices very reasonable and sometimes charge less than the retail stores. In my opinion $200 is too much money for a child to spend.
Attended CGI Detroit 5753, tachlis, canteen was fairly normal. Maybe just my age? We’d get a sheet at breakfast or lunch with ordering options. I didn’t always love camp food, nosh I’d buy a bit, we were able to get stuff for mishnayos baal peh, black and white cookies if you came Shabbat morning early etc.. Years later as a 12-13 year old I saw canteen’s selling pizza, french fries etc . It’s tough. It’s really just that kids don’t want to eat camp food (man, memories of kids attacking the food as it hit the table, fights etc especially… Read more »
$200?!? there’s a machle raging in Lubavitch of living up with the Joneses. People take tuition scholarships in order to be able to pay the mortgage of their vacation home. Teach your child values or they’ll spend their lives looking over their shoulders at what this one and that one is spending their money on.
Time to end canteen in camp. Stop the madness and stop the rip-off of children. Enough.
ending the canteen in camp is like ending camp
the camp depends on the canteen for nosh and other stuff and its also used for Mishnayos Baal peh so removing the canteen is like removing camps events
but in all honesty, the canteen prices should be lower
We can fargin a bochur who builds a business for two months. We can also fargin camp for their portion of the profits as they have 12 months of expenses and only two months of revenue. Not to mention the financial accommodations that they make for many campers. Perhaps the item you’ve mentioned had nice margins but I can assure you that there are plenty of items with more reasonable margins. Personally, I gave my son a larger amount of money than I would have liked to, with a smile and encouragement to enjoy, and he brought back a nice… Read more »
A lot of girl camps have a rule, you can only buy up to 2 things a day. You check off what you want in the morning and the canteen manager (who is making money same way other head staff are- not through the profit of canteen) puts it in your bunks bag and your counselor gives it out after lunch. Why cant boy camps work this way? It also saves so much time and energy from everyone! No kids waiting on long lines which takes the whole rest hour no overworked canteen managers, all is good.
I personally went to CGI Florida and they did that cuz my father asked them to do it
if parents ask the canteen manager to limit their son to 2 things a day would save a lot of money
As a former canteen manager I can attest that if your child is spending too much money in canteen that you the parent, or the campers fault. You either gave them money to spend which they did, or they used their own money to spend. This is a business, not a charity event. Most camps have “no more than two items” rules. And prices are not as exorbitant as you made it seem. Nobody made fun of your child or made them feel left out because they didn’t have canteen. It’s an exciting part of camp but if not getting… Read more »
If you boil it down the root of the problem is the camp food is bad. admit it no matter what camp you’re in canteen always has better food and better nosh and whatever but if Camp will make their food not brech worthy Then people would find no need to spend $10 on some half eaten pizza from canteen. Camp food is Notorious for just sucking. And that’s why kids have 3 boxes of noodle soup. I’m saying this from experience of 4 years of a camper and a counsler. Camps should make price limits on how much canteen… Read more »
$40 should more than cover a month of canteen/trip gift shop stuff.
If it’s in your budget you make a decision to give it or not. There’s no reason to make a big deal about it. This is been going on the last 30 years and canteens have been offering better and better food so it’s very normal for kids to want the food. I don’t see an issue.
It is so not culturally acceptable for a bochur to get a job in a store in crown heights for the summer. If you aren’t in camp (no matter what you’re doing there) it’s like you’re a dropout.
I have been sending my kids to camp for a long time. I usually send them $100. The agreement is that they can keep what they dont spend. I send my kids a huge amount of nosh. They dont need to keep up with the joneses, BH, and they dont care. The end. I think this conversation needs to be between the mom and the child about being happy with what one has.
The child is mirroring his mother…
Camp life often mirrors real life! How much do your kids spend on nosh at the local grocery store AND at the pizza store??? Sure, younger kids spend less than older kids, but the younger kids ARE watching (and waiting to hit the double-digit age when they too can become “big spenders”). Kids these days are sent to grab lunch and fress in fast-food eateries when Mom is too busy (or unavailable) to make them a “nerdy” tuna sandwich (which they can also buy in the local grocery – but when sushi or pizza is an option, a store-bought poshete… Read more »
Sushi starts at $6 not $2
You can say the same thing about toy stores or any other business that markets towards kids. Teach your children they don’t need everything they see and what everyone else has.
Personally I highly disagree. Canteen has always been affordable, while providing great food. For someone who ACTUALLY cares, and wants their child to have a good summer, 200$ is laughably little. Sending a child to camp without canteen money, is like sending them to school without books. You’re depriving them of a vital part of the camp experience.
I am involved in a overnight camp and the first thing I wanna say is, not everything is op Ed worthy. I’m wondering how old is the son that did not realize that a “store,” with a price list, and an account does not cost money? I’m also wondering if he knows when he goes to kahans that it does also cost money, or when the mike n Ike is 25 cents he’s aware but when it’s $1 he is not? I have been working in this camp for close to a decade, never, not ever, has a camper been… Read more »
Many details in your article are missing, such as, did you end up giving your son of the money?
I’m assuming you wrote this because you went ahead and said yes to your son, not wanting to say goodbye on a bad note, and you feel resentful, because it is not aligned with your other parenting and budgeting policies. This means that it is a learning opportunity for how you want to approach it going forward. One idea is to tell your son, a few months in advance, that he could work for his canteen money or use gift money. Another option is to give him a set amount that is his to budget accordingly, and be very clear… Read more »
First let’s start with, “Why are camps known for giving bad food, to growing children for a month?! and sometimes even for 2 months?!” I think that when a Boy/Girl asks you “Ta, I NEED money for canteen.”
“Why do you need money for canteen? don’t you have super, breakfast and lunch?”
“Yes ta, but I’m always hungry!”
Serve better food, and then you don’t need canteen!
You only give $200 to canteen?!?!
I give unlimited
These kids can have a break during the summer!
As a camp director I banned any parent from letting their child have more than $150, unless they wanted to make sure every camper had that much this way no camper would feel bad that he had none whilst his friend had alot
From my experience in camp the food was pretty good if you take a plate of normal food And right next to it you put joke food the kids are going to go for the joke food so the camp have a אחריות on the well being of the kids so it’s normal to charge extra for the kids not to buy to much in order to help them keep focus on the healthy stuff