By Mordechai Schmutter

Every year, I print a camp newsletter one week instead of my usual column, and I feel like I’ve been neglecting a very special kind of camp — Mommy Camp. So here goes.

Wow! Yet another exciting week here at Camp S’dei Home! Between all the games, trips, crafts, laundry, and bugging the kids to spend some time learning, Counselor Mommy didn’t actually get a moment to herself! The point of camp is to have structured activities designed to wear the kids out, but the only one worn out at the end of the day is Counselor Mommy, at which point it’s time for the kids to “come home” from camp, all hungry for snacks and ready to get into fights with each other. Mommy did not think this part through! Yet, Mommy still managed to make supper every night and crank out a newsletter for the Shabbos table. And what did Totty do? He went to work! What did he do at work? I don’t see a newsletter.

Down to a “T”

On the first day of camp this week, everyone got new T-shirts! Well, new to them. Devorah got Moishy’s old shirt, Moishy got Chaim’s old shirt, and so on. In case any Tatties out there are wondering where their old sleeping T-shirt went.

We Had a Field Day!

Monday was Field Day, and we got to compete in things that would normally make Mommy yell at us, such as walking briskly while balancing a raw egg on a spoon, sticking our feet in a bucket of ice cubes, and a really loud singing competition. There was also a toilet-paper-mummy race until Mommy found out. Then we had a re-spooling race. We also had some swimming pool races, such as walking across the length of the pool, swimming laps, and the contest where Mommy threw in a handful of change and whoever got the most won. Unfortunately, we did all this in a wading pool.

Field Day Field Trips

Also on Monday, we took a surprise field trip to the dentist, where whoever was good the entire time got to win valuable prizes, such as those tiny treasure chests that you keep teeth in! (NOTE: None of the kids actually lost any teeth. They just wanted the chests.) Then we took a field trip to the pet store, which, FYI, the kids no longer believe is a zoo. That’s how we ended up with a lizard.

Backyard “Eating”

For lunch on Monday, we had a picnic, because it turns out that eating outside is more fun if you call it a picnic. But Moishy kept collecting the ants in his tooth chest to, quote, “feed the lizard,” Miriam started swinging the food bag around, and when Mommy got up to deal with that, some birds helped themselves to the egg salad.

It was no picnic.

We’re Still Looking

On Tuesday morning, we had a scavenger hunt. Mommy wrote down a bunch of things that we had to find, such as Mommy’s sunglasses, the last library book, the screw from the thing, Yitzy’s other Shabbos shoe, and Mommy’s whistle. It was a good hour before it occurred to the kids that these were things that had been missing anyway, regardless of camp. So we didn’t find a lot of the items. Maybe we’ll find it in the Pre-Pesach Mommy Camp.

Disappearing Like Magic!

Also on Tuesday morning, Counselor Mommy announced that the camp was having a surprise visitor. It was Savta! Who had not been told that she was stepping into the middle of a camp day! The kids kept asking her to do magic tricks and entertain them, and, long story short, she did not stick around for supper. You’re welcome.

That Wasn’t Our Goal

In sports this week, the younger campers complained that the older campers were winning all the sports, and the older campers complained that the referee kept giving the younger campers unfair advantages. This came to a head during a game of soccer on Tuesday, when Chaim kicked the ball across the field with the other team chasing him, yelling, “My turn! My turn!” until he kicked the ball into the goal, hitting the goalie and physically lifting her off the ground. Sports have been put on hold for the foreseeable future.

It Was in Tents

Also on Tuesday, we had an overnight in the backyard! Well, actually, no one was brave enough to do an overnight, because of the possums, so we did an overday instead. We set up tents and had hot cocoa and Mommy told everyone a scary story and put us to bed. No one was able to fall asleep. It could have been the scary story, or it could have been the fact that it was broad daylight. It’s also possible that our hot cocoa has caffeine.

Long Story Short

When we came back inside, we spent hours working on a single massive Cheerios necklace, using an entire spool of thread and a huge box of Cheerios Mommy bought at Costco. On the bright side, we figured we have a sukkah decoration now, at least until it rains. On that note, we probably should not have used Honey Nut.

We also played, “We Pass the Baby Around,” for a solid half-hour, at which point the baby threw up. The person holding her was out.

Teaming Up

Wednesday we had Color War! It all began when Mommy woke up and realized that the Cocoa Club had colored on the walls. In both red and blue marker. So Mommy was upset, and no one would admit who did it, and the kids were chanting, “Color War breakout! Color War breakout!” So that’s what we called it. There was definitely a lot of yelling, and the kids were wearing clothes colored with their team colors, and then there was a race where the kids ran and Mommy ran after them … In short, everybody had to spend the day scrubbing marker off the walls. Nobody won Color War.

In other Wednesday news, the baby ate the entire Cheerios necklace, including the string.

Wet ’N Wild

On Thursday, the kids had a water bomb fight using wet sponges! In the kitchen! Well, it started in the kitchen, while Mommy was upstairs. It ended in Tatty’s home office.

Climbing The Walls

Later, we played “Mommy Just Washed the Floor.” It’s a lot like playing, “The Floor is Lava,” except with an actual risk of slipping. To play, we were not allowed to step on the floor, and had to traverse the room by standing on furniture, climbing across bookshelves, swinging from the chandeliers, and, apparently, one kid belted two pillows to his feet. The game ended when someone stepped on the couch and we heard a crunch that it turns out was Mommy’s sunglasses. This is the last time Mommy’s playing.

A Colorful Story

The kids also tie-dyed clothing this week! This was not intentional. We did a massive load of laundry, thanks to Wednesday’s Color War, Tuesday’s “We Pass the Baby,” and also two pillowcases had brown footprints. And the kids “helped.” The good news is that no one’s going to know that all the males in this family are wearing colorful undershirts and tzitzis unless one of us says something. The bad news is that the white shirts were in there, too. The worse news is that the Nine Days start this week, so get ready for another week and a half of not being able to buy new clothes and having to wear basically everything we own.

Let’s Go Shopping!

By Thursday, the canteen had run out of food, so we took a special field trip to the supermarket. First, we had to go to the bank. When we got there, everyone sang, “2! 4! 6! 8! Who do we appreciate? The driver! The driver! Yay … the driver!” Mommy was not amused.

At the bank, we played Limbo under the ropes, until the kids thought it was a good idea to play cops and robbers, and they ran around yelling, “I’m the robber! I’m the robber!” No one wanted to be a cop, because there was already a real cop there.

We also played several fun games in the supermarket, such as Food Bingo, Roaming Cash Register, Beat the Clock (which turned into shopping-cart races), What Does It Weigh?, and Let’s Ask the People Around Us What They Weigh. On the way home, we played a game called, “Let’s See Who Could Be Quiet in the Car the Longest!” The winner was … Mommy. Congratulations, Mommy! You get to keep the lizard!

Rolling in Dough

On Friday, all the campers helped make challah! And fish, and kugel, and cholent, and potato salad. … Then the kids were done. Speaking of which, we lost Mommy’s whistle again, so be careful when you’re eating.

Friday Fun!

Friday afternoon, we played a game in which there were toys all over the living-room floor, and whoever could clean up the most would win! As of the writing of this newsletter, the game is still ongoing.

Every Little Bit

As this exciting summer is winding to a close, tips will be appreciated. We’ve enclosed a handy chart of suggested amounts. Note that if your child’s counselor, morah, JC, and lunch person is all the same staff member, you can combine the totals and put them in one envelope. You’re welcome!

There’s also a sizeable lost-and-found in the laundry room. All items not claimed by the end of camp will be donated. Except the pillowcases.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of seven books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to


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