By Mordechai Schmutter

 

Whew! Another exciting week has come and gone at Camp Zareinu V’Chaspeinu! We, the head staff, are literally falling off our feet, and we’re not sure if our hearing is going to come back. So for now, here’s a summary of what happened this week, in writing, because we know your kids don’t tell you anything, and if you come over and ask us on Shabbos, we’re just going to politely nod and laugh and hope it wasn’t a question.

Wait … Did You Say “Boating” or “Bowling?”

Bowling. We said bowling. We don’t know what you’re talking about.

Ok, we said boating. But then on Monday morning, after everyone got on the bus, the boat people called to tell us that they were closed because of the rain.

This led to an emergency meeting in the parking lot between the camp director, the head counselor, the assistant head counselor, the bus drivers, and one concerned mother who doesn’t know how to say goodbye to her son in the morning, and they decided that, since it was raining, we could probably go bowling, which is the official rainy-day activity of chol ha’moed Sukkos. Then someone brought up that, seeing as they were standing in the parking lot, it was not actually raining.

But we had a fun time bowling anyway. We went to Parkway Lanes, whose official slogan is “Bowling alley with an old-timey vibe.” The counselors had to keep score on paper. Like in Biblical times.

Bean Counters

If you’re ever looking for beans, you should really check the park.

We did.

On Monday afternoon, we went to the park to hunt for beans, because, apparently, the floating JCs had dropped thousands of them on the ground there, because how clumsy can you get? And they didn’t drop them all in one place either. They were everywhere.

(Note that these are the same people who serve us lunch.)

So we had to come out and search for them. We definitely got weird looks from the people on the playground equipment. But it didn’t matter. We had to find all of the beans, because we’ve all been to school, and we know that if you leave beans on the ground, they grow into huge beanstalks in like a week, and before you know it, you have giants all over the park. And then we have to stop letting Bunk Alef go there every day to play on the swings.

Great. So what are we supposed to do with all these beans now? Make a vegetarian cholent l’kavod the Nine Days?

No. Apparently, the head counselor wanted them back. And he was willing to auction off prizes for them. Each bean was assigned a dollar value (of like a dollar), and we got to bid on valuable prizes. And by “valuable,” we mean that some of these prizes, such as the freeze-pops, went for over $600 in beans.

And sure, $600 sounds like a rip-off, but, to be fair, the camp is giving us about a dollar per bean. And what kind of prize would you give someone for a sandwich bag full of beans they found on the ground?

Well, technically all beans are found on the ground.

Anyway, look out for some bean plants growing in the park in the near future, because (1) we don’t think we found everything, and (2) it had rained for five minutes that morning.

Pillow Talk

All of the bunks tie-dyed pillowcases this week, because they were cheaper than T-shirts. And who can’t use an extra pillow before the Nine Days? You can put it on the pillow that you use when sitting on the floor of the shul, and it can brighten up your Tishah B’Av!

(NOTE: Please ask your LOR if you can brighten up your particular Tishah B’Av.)

Either way, we figured that you have nothing better to do before the Nine Days, laundry-wise, than two or three loads for a single pillowcase that no one’s even slept on yet. But on the other hand, you don’t want to realize it runs the morning after you sleep on it when people keep stopping you at work to ask why it looks like you fell asleep on a rainbow.

No One Got the Cart with the Messed-Up Wheel

What game can you play with a shopping cart and a helmet?

If you guessed some kind of parking-lot bowling, you’re close.

The game was called “Let’s Go Shopping!” The premise of the game was that Rabbi Headcounselorstein was making a dish — pizza, kugel, chicken nuggets — during camp time, apparently. But he needed a number of ingredients, and those ingredients were represented by campers.

So the counselors, who get paid for this, had to grab a shopping cart and bring him the ingredients as fast as they could, in a race against other counselors! We don’t know why. Maybe the winner gets a raise. They had to load each ingredient into their cart, strap a helmet onto it, and take off running down the driveway.

Without paying, apparently.

But it’s OK, because they were coming back. They had to pick up their ingredients one at a time, for safety reasons. It’s like shopping in a rush, but incredibly inefficiently.

Then we had a bonus round where some campers had to push the counselors in the carts. After some trial and error, we found that the quickest way to do that was to not bother trying to get the counselors’ legs into the leg holes.

We Had a Field Day!

What is Field Day? It sounds like we’re farming.

It turns out that Field Day is a lot like Color War, though Rabbi Headcounselorstein assures us it is not. There are definitely teams, though. The teams were called “Cholent” and “Kugel,” named after reasons to come to a Kiddush. Plus those names gave the counselors the challenge of trying to come up with songs when nothing rhymes with either word unless you hilariously mispronounce it:

Come blow your bugle!

‘Cuz here comes Team Kugel!

Nothing else rhymes with “kugel”!

We even checked Google!

You’re welcome for not insisting that the kids come in their team colors, which would be brown (cholent) and grayish-beige (kugel).

Running in the Fields

Field Day was two days, because there was too much going on to have it all in one day as advertised. Most of Field Day took place at the park and the indoor swimming pools, as no farmers were willing to lend us their fields. Especially after they saw what we did to the bowling alley.

Actually, though, it turns out that Field Day has nothing to do with fields, unless you count the wheelbarrow races. We were short on time, so we ran all the races as fast as we could. There was a swimming relay, a wheelbarrow race, a potato-sack race, and a penny hunt, in which Rabbi Headcounselorstein threw 100 coins into the pool and everyone had to find them and decide whether they’d rather keep them or hand them off to be counted.

Here are some things that we learned:

  • It’s hard to be a wheelbarrow if you wear your tzitzis on the outside.
  • It’s not easy to figure out where to buy a potato sack these days.
  • Rabbi Headcounselorstein must be a blast at the mall, when he comes across those fountains.

Scavenger Hunt

The highlight of our Field Day was a scavenger hunt in the park, in which we were given a list of things to find. The list included:

  • 1 Canadian goose
  • 1 swing with chain
  • 1 elderly person + bench
  • 1 traffic cone
  • 1 50-lb. rock
  • 1 item of forgotten clothes
  • 1 dead possum

Wait — those weren’t the things we were supposed to find. Those were the things we actually found.

As with the bean hunt, all items found were brought back to camp for Friday’s cholent.

Bound for Rebounderz

On Monday afternoon, we will iy’H be going to Rebounderz, an indoor park featuring wall-to-wall trampolines. And you know this place has to be fun, as is evidenced by their use of the letter “Z.” There’s no “Department of Motor Vehiclez” or “Smith Brotherz Funeral Home.”

The rule is that all jumpers have to wear socks, but Rebounderz will be providing official safety socks—or, more likely, sockz—in case some of the kids are not wearing any or their socks have holez. The socks will be yours to keep, for obvious reasonz. And it doesn’t hurt to have an extra pair of socks to wear in the Nine Dayz.

Everyone who’s coming needs to sign waiverz.

We’re Not Tip-Toeing Around This!

As the first half of the summer limps to a close, it’s time to show our appreciation to the counselors, who spend all day pitching balls to your kids in the heat and pushing them in shopping carts, and, in the case of the younger bunks, waiting for them to get dressed. Twice. Not to mention the rebbeim, who have to get the kids to learn even though we’ve made it absolutely clear to them that they could not give tests or homework, all without calling you out of work for parent–teacher conferences. And when we asked what people could do to show their appreciation, most of our staff made the international hand symbol for money.

Please look for our attached letter for suggested amounts. And if you think the suggested amounts seem a little high, maybe you can join our staff and stand out in the heat with the kids for most of the day, and we’ll ask you again in a month.

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

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