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Home Again

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Back from Summer Camp Edition!

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In homage to the fabulous Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook series, we offer you a public service: a guide to negotiating those rocky few weeks between the return of your child from summer camp and the start of school. It’s wise to be prepared for the worst; apparently in a courtroom situation, judges do not consider “but she wouldn’t stop singing ‘Ani v’Atah’ ” to be valid self-defense.

Scenario No. 1: Child keeps whining at parent to play Ga-Ga (Israeli dodgeball), but the temperature outside is approaching that of the planet Mercury.

Survival strategy:

1.  Distract child by sending him outside (alone) with a shovel to build Ga-Ga pit.

2.  Encourage child to play-act a game of Ga-Ga in air-conditioned home, using athletically minded Polly Pocket dolls as stand-ins for sweat-prone humans.

3.  Teach child about the power of the people by having child write letters to Nintendo demanding imminent production of Ga-Ga for the Wii. (Strategy will fail, thus providing the child an important lesson in democracy.)

Scenario No. 2: Child will not stop doing rikudiah (Israeli dance festival) dances in living room, causing trauma to cat.

Survival strategy:

1.  Hide iPod.

2.  Take child to community pool. Suggest child perform rikudiah dances underwater for extra aerobic benefit.

3.  Announce that the family is converting to whatever religion is in the movie Footloose and that dancing will heretofore be considered sinful. Hang framed photo of a vengeful John Lithgow on wall.

Scenario No. 3: Child will not stop lying on couch and moaning about missing camp friends.

Survival strategy:

1.  Have child write letters. (Parent should attempt to keep sarcasm out of voice when pointing out that in the previous four weeks child was not nearly so eager to write to her own parents, whom she has known for eight years.)

2.  Have child use telephone. (Parent should insert earplugs before handing child telephone, lest parent’s hearing be permanently damaged by lunatic chanting of Adah [age group] cheer at increasing volume.)

3.  Remind child of future Shabbaton reunion opportunities.

4.  When child demands immediate visit with friends or child will never ever come out of room or eat ever again, remind child that we do not negotiate with terrorists.

Scenario No. 4: Child (still lying on couch and moaning) refuses to do camp laundry or assist in household chores.

Survival strategy:

1.  Establish nikayon (cleanup) system similar to that of camp. Give child daily cleanliness score; promise ice cream for non-filth achievement.

2.  Tell child it is now color war (Maccabia) and her team will lose to the Blue Team if they do not clean up. Penalty for losing Maccabia is confiscation of Silly Bandz.

3.  If child does not comply, eat ice cream tauntingly in front of ice-cream-less child while wearing all her Silly Bandz.

Scenario No. 5: Child suddenly wants to do Birkat Hamazon (after-meal prayer) after every meal.

Survival strategy: Pray! This survival strategy has worked for our people for generations. Who are you to argue?

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Scenario no. 6, (circa 1979, Baltimore, MD): After spending four weeks living outdoors, child spits on the dining room floor.

rosanne skopp says:

“Home Again” (tongue in cheek not withstanding), really speaks to the marvels of Jewish camping. It certainly resonated with this grandmother! Last week I was at Zimriyah at the Ramah Day Camp in Nyack NY and I couldn’t help thinking that of all the ways we have of really reaching our kids, none is as powerful as summers at a Jewish camp. How absolutely fantastic that kids come home singing Hebrew songs, reciting Birkat HaMazon and, eventually, marrying someone they met at camp!

For me the ultimate post-camp survival strategy is a camp experience for the entire family! Each summer for the past five years we’ve taken our kids back to camp at the end of August and Labor Day weekend, enjoying Family Weekends and vacation packages at the NJY Camps 1500+ acre facility in Milford, Pennsylvania. Kids of all ages (from infants to grandparents) participate in camp activities such as nature walks, tie-dying, bonfires (complete with singalongs and s’mores!), arts & crafts, boating, swimming, adventure ropes courses, and much more. Families are housed in private camper cabins (one per family) complete with electricity and bathrooms. The kids get one last camp “hurrah” before school begins, and we grown-ups get to remember all the fun we had when we were campers. It’s an amazing “cure” for the post-camp blues: they come home from camp in August knowing that they will return for one final Havdalah-under-the-stars in September – and it’s one they will share with the entire family!

Susan McCarthy says:

Unfamilar experience to me — hilarious story!

Scenario #23: Nine year old boy suddenly develops an interest in emailing a nine year old girl he wouldn’t speak with in person. Emails maddeningly look like this: Hi./Hi./How r u?/Fine and u?/Fine.
Survival strategy: Suggest a phone call. It will last three minutes. How was it to talk to her? you ask. Boring, he’ll answer.

Leah Weiss Caruso says:

Ah, see with boys, almost all survival strategies simply include multiple showers. Laundry is not a problem, because said boys most likely wore the same 2 shirts, shorts, underwear and socks for all 3-4 weeks of camp. You just throw those items out. Likewise, putting away gear is never an issue, because most of it never makes it home. So the only major strategizing you have to do is figure out how to get them into the shower, since they won’t have taken more than 2 in the last 3-4 weeks. Because who supervises 9/10 year old boys at camp? TEEN AGE BOYS.

Batya Leidner says:

Strategy #1 – begin countdown to the first day of camp next july as soon as you pull away from the parking lot…. subtracting weekends and holidays, therefore making it seem like they will have to ” suffer” through less days of school/ non camp days… start every conversation with ” hey its only XXX number of days till you go back to camp”

Carol Blum says:

Summer One, child (male) brings home 2 pr. underpants, 1 pr socks and 2 odd ones, no tee shirts, etc. After admonishing said child to be more cardful , the next summer goes better. All that gets lost is a sweatshirt. When asked, he says, oh, we couldn’t find it for a while, then I found it under the bunk. The ants and the flies made a nest in it. I held it under water, but it wouldn’t stop moving, so I threw it out. THANKYOU!

“It wouldn’t stop moving, so I threw it out”! CAROL WINS; RETIRE THE INTERNETS.

Carol Blum says:

And that was 25 years ago.

Sunny says:

“Because who supervises 9/10 year old boys at camp? TEEN AGE BOYS.” Also genius. Internets, retirement #2 awaits.

Thanks for the ga-ga clarification. I have tried so many times to explain ga-ga to friends (mystified looks abound), and never realized it was an Israeli (and according to Wikipedia, Australian Jewish first) game. That just explains so much.

Sunny, I saw that! I think that Wikipedia reference is wrong. I think the Israelis brought it to camps in America and Australia (and perhaps Europe too) and some Aussie-born wiki editor has too much self-esteem.

“We do not negotiate with terrorists.” I love this.

“I held it under water, but it wouldn’t stop moving, so I threw it out.” /tears streaming/ thanks for the laugh!! Shabbat Shalom to all.

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The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Back from Summer Camp Edition!

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