By Mordechai Schmutter

Volume 57, Number 76

Whew! Another exciting week at Camp S’dei Efron! As the first half of the summer winds to a close, it occurs to us that no one would notice that if we didn’t point it out. Here’s a summary of what we did this week, in case you think all we do in camp is sit on the bus, get our knapsacks soaking wet, send home waivers, and loudly try to figure out, in unison, who we should appreciate.

Safety First!

  1. Please make sure your son has a full bottle of ice-cold water every day. And make sure to close it properly.
  2. Also, please make sure to apply sunscreen (sonscreen?) to your son every morning, unless you want him back a different color than you sent him. If all the kids are bright red, Color War is over before it begins.
  3. All campers should wear their official camp T-shirts on trip days so we can identify them as part of our camp, because, no offense, 90% of your kids look the same from the back. Also, there are like 12 camps out there named S’dei Something.


  • In the camp office, there’s a lost-and-found, mostly made up of dirty socks. If you want to root through it, call us and we’ll be happy for you to come by. We’re not touching it. Maybe bring gloves.
  • Please make sure your sons do not bring any electronic devices to camp. This includes cell phones, iPods, Game Boys, and any kind of device that you turn it on and 120 kids lean over your shoulder. If we see a camper with one of these devices, we will have to confiscate it and call you to come pick it up from camp at the end of the day. Just look for the clot of 20 counselors and rebbeim leaning over each other’s shoulders.

Minor Battles In History

Color War ended last week with a score of 1,456 to 1,455, which are definitely not random arbitrary numbers we made up. We had extensive coverage of this war in last week’s newsletter, including major battles and lists of casualties. (It was a short list. There were no casualties.)

But not every battle makes history. We also had several smaller, less time-consuming battles. Here they are, for posterity:

  1. The Battle of Dodge Ball, in which the entire camp competed in a massive game of dodgeball. This one was a lot like an actual battle; there was violence and everything. The team with the most people left standing was the winner.
  2. The Battle of the Wheelbarrows. (Don’t worry, these weren’t real wheelbarrows. We’re not working your kids here. The wheelbarrows were other kids.)
  3. The Battle of Cutting up the Watermelon, in which the head counselor gave one staff member from each team a watermelon and a spectacularly dull knife to cut it with. The two then had a race to see who could turn their watermelon into 24 nice slices and a lake of watermelon juice. Those were the dullest knives ever used in battle, so, thankfully, no one cut themselves.
  4. The Battle of the Plays, which Red definitely won, if what they’re being graded by is play length. This might be why we got out an hour and a half late on Thursday.
  5. The Battle of Making Everyone Go Deaf, in which both teams battled it out, loudly, to see who was better at singing Birkas HaMazon, their cheers, and their alma mater. This one was hard to judge, because our ears are ringing. What?!

Hot And Cold

This week we had hot dogs and ice cream, but not in that order. Also, the ice cream was pareve. And nut-free. The hot dogs were nut-free as well, but they were not pareve. (Yuck. Who even knows what’s in a pareve hot dog?)

On Monday, we came out for “early dismissal” to find an ice-cream truck waiting for us, right in front of the door! We all screamed, obviously. Even the ice-cream guy. Also, we were still deaf from color war.

Everyone got a choice of various types of ices, including snow cones, patriotic pops in honor of the holiday (July 4, not Shivah Asar B’Tammuz), and, as far as we can tell, crayon-flavored ices.

Then, on Wednesday, everyone was treated to a mini barbecue–on mini grills, of course. The hot dogs were crayon-flavored as well.

Annual Carnival!

No, we did not do baking on Wednesday. That’s not why your kids came home covered in flour. And marshmallow fluff. We had a carnival, and there were a lot of great booths:

  • “Coke or Pepsi?” Which is it? We drank hundreds of cups of each and were up all night trying to figure it out.
  • “Find the Penny”–Hint: It was in the flour.
  • “Count Your Chips”–Campers had to count chocolate chips in a spoon of marshmallow fluff using only their tongues. So if your son came home with marshmallow fluff on his hands, that means he was cheating. Or manning the booths.
  • “Boat Race”–Players had to race tiny boats across a pan of water by blowing on them with straws. The winner got tickets, and the loser got to keep the straws.
  • “Moon Bounce”–No carnival would be complete without a moon bounce. Luckily, we own one. And yes, we’re going to pull it out at every opportunity, because it cost a whole lot of money, especially considering that it’s mostly air.
  • “Mouse Race”–This was the highlight of the carnival. Four real live (at the time) mice were put into a maze, and contestants could bet on which one would reach the finish. This was not as illegal as it sounds. And actually, the mice had no real interest in racing. We’re not even sure they knew it was a carnival. So the way it worked was that a player could pick a mouse, and if that mouse stumbled across the end of the maze, he (the player, not the mouse) would get a ticket. Players could also encourage their mice to finish the maze either verbally or by blowing on them. With straws from the boat race. Baruch Hashem, none of the mice escaped and singlehandedly shut down the camp.

At the end, everyone got to exchange their tickets for prizes from the prize store. There was a huge variety of fun prizes, including live (at the time) goldfish! We apologize to any parents who were not ready for that.

Getting Some Air

On Thursday, we headed over to the bowling alley for an exciting afternoon in an air-conditioned room. Also, there was bowling. But really, the main point was the air conditioning. And yes, we asked a she’eilah–apparently one is allowed to bowl when it’s not chol ha’moed. Who knew?


We forgot to play sports this week. It happens. Oops. Our bad.

Don’t Say
We Didn’t Remind You

This Tuesday, Bunks Alef through Tes will be going to “Funbounce.” And with “fun” in the name, it has to be good. Legally. But the kids jump around all day anyway; they might as well do it in a padded room. And we just know that place is fun, because everyone is required to sign a waiver.

But seriously. Everyone is required to sign a waiver. Please fill it out and send it back by Monday, or your son will have to stay home, where he will proceed to bounce off the walls anyway. So you might as well.

You Can’t Overnight
These Things

This Wednesday, Bunks Lamed Vav and Kuf Yud Tes will be going on an overnight. We have a lot of fun activities planned, such as another barbecue, a night swim (which is not as dangerous as it sounds), and a rafting trip down the Delaware!

We will be sleeping in a shul, just like they did in old Europe right before they went rafting down the Delaware (but after their barbecue).

Please pack a change of clothes, two bathing suits, a camp T-shirt, plenty of sunscreen to get all over everything in the bag in the hopes that some of it ends up on your kid, a toothbrush and toothpaste (in case pigs fly), noisy snacks they can eat in the dark, a sleeping bag, and a pillow–all in the smallest bag possible, as there’s not a lot of luggage space. If your kid’s bag is bigger than he is, he’s sitting on the roof. Please remember to return the waivers (for rafting, not for sitting on the roof) no later than Sunday.

Counselor Tipping

With the first half of the summer coming to an end, baruch Hashem, we’d like to acknowledge the hard work of all of the counselors, junior counselors, rebbeim, and junior rebbeim, who spent all day out in the heat pitching balls in slow motion, herding the kids on and off buses, and trying to teach kids that there are actually parshiyos during the summer despite the fact that there’s no school. We can’t put a price on the things they do for us. But we can make suggestions.

Note: From previous experience, we suggest that you do not give the money directly to your children, as envelopes have gotten “lost” in the past, and kids have attempted to buy out the entire canteen. We need to save something for the second half.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of five 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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