06 July 2009

Cultural Enrichment

Back in January, I realized - with a shock - that we were going to have to send the kid to camp - you know, so we could go to work? So I set about researching local day camps and found one that seemed good, came well recommended, was only an arm and a leg (as opposed to the ones that are two arms and both legs), and included door to door bus service.

The only thing that stuck in my heathen pagan atheist craw just a tiny little bit was that it's a Jewish camp, run by a local JCC. Don't get me wrong - it's not the Jewish part that gave me pause, it's the religious part. But I got over it and camp started last week. The kid is happy, she comes home filthy and tired, and she's supposedly learning how to swim.

On the third day, I got a text from my husband:

She came home with a metallic-blue yarmulke and a small plastic shofar. Retaliation for the ham sandwich?

Yeah, he sent her to camp with a ham sandwich. Oh well. At the parent orientation, they'd said "no pork, no shellfish", but "if your kid will only eat a ham sandwich, it's okay." I guess that's the kind of concession you have to make when half of your campers aren't Jewish.

Anyway, there'd been a band there, playing for the kids, and handing out yarmulkes and shofars - kind of like Lester Lanin tossing out beanies at debutante balls - so, no cause and effect between the ham sandwich and the yarmulke. The yarmulke has since had red yarn attached to it by the child, who's taken to tying it on and wearing it around the house as a "helmet". The wrong person is going to ring the doorbell one day and have a heart attack.

Today, we had the following conversation in the car on the way home from hiking in the woods.

Her: You know what we say at camp in the morning? Boker tov, Camp Disco.* That means hello.

Me: In what language?

(pause)

Her: Um, camp?

(Daddy nearly drives off the road.)

So, on the one hand, she's getting all kinds of cultural enrichment. On the other hand, she has no idea what any of it means. I guess that'll come. In the meantime, the amusement factor for her parents has been worth every penny.










* Pronounced "booker toe, camp dis-coe" with the emphasis on the toe and the coe.

28 comments:

phd in yogurtry said...

If we banned ham our children would have to beg at cafeteria line. We had a similar preschool experience but replace Jewish with Baptist.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Laughing out loud! I went to JCC day camp for *years*, and never got a free shofar out of the deal. I feel cheated!

susan said...

CG went to a JCC camp last summer in our old city, and she just loved it. Her camp was much bigger on Jewish cultural stuff than any religious touches, and I loved the fact that she came home singing camp classics like "Leaving on a Jet Plane" (in addition to boker tov, of course).

Kelly said...

;) ;)

Harriet said...

Ha! Actually, all camps, in my experience, have their own language. I think she is exactly right.

Ree said...

I find this hilariously funny. Of course my dad (the Muslim) had a fit when we brought ham sandwiches for the kids to eat at one summer picnic, so maybe I'm reliving the conversations we had afterwards.

"Yep, we're out of the will."

mayberry said...

Oh, that is excellent.

I'd be more concerned about the loudness of the shofar and how many times it was blown in my ear.

flutter said...

Dude, I kind of want to go...

Life in Eden said...

So, so FUNNY! The Snake went to a JCC camp last year ... in Canada. So it was all sorts of strange at times. Of course he technically is being raised Jewish, so it wasn't supposed to be so strange. But hey, those Canadians get a little whacky too ya know.

Gwen said...

Lord, camp can be ridiculously expensive. I could only afford to send Liv a couple days per week this summer. But, like your girl, Liv is so tired afterwards. It's a beautiful thing. My daughter is rarely tired.

wheelsonthebus said...

that's a pretty liberal ham policy

The LIbrary Lady said...

I went to YMHA (Jewish Y) camps for years and I'm sure my mother sent me with ham sandwiches, Jewish atheist that she is.

There wasn't much religious stuff--though every Friday we had an "Oneg Shabbat" bit. All I remember of it was that the challah bread they gave us was great and that even at 10 or 11 I winced every time they said "holly" bread.
(For you nice gentiles it's "hah-lah" and you kind of spit out the first syllable!)

Later I went to their teen travel camps. When we were allowed to get our own food they told us no pork or shellfish and of course I cheerfully ignored it every time!

FreshHell said...

Actually, it sounds like fun! When I was a kid, we were members of the JCC because they had a pool and childcare and I took swimming lessons there for years. They were progressive and held art shows (still do) and it was a little fun. I'm sure M will enjoy it. It's good to learn about different cultures and religions. I draw the line at vacation bible school, though.

liz said...

Hilarious!!

I (culturally Jewish of Atheist Jewish descent) got sent to Jewish sleepaway camp for 2 yrs, and then to Quaker camp for four. I'm now a UU. So you see, the religious instruction at these things doesn't necessarily take.

Cold Spaghetti said...

When we were in Mobile, AL with my parents after the storm, we put Will in part-time daycare there in a local church that came highly recommended. The curriculum? You, me, and Jesus make three.

He didn't go back after Day 2.

heidi said...

Pull her out of Jewbilee before they have her making images of Moses with macaroni & glitter!!! ;-)
xoh

Janet said...

The retaliation for ham sandwich part was my favourite. :)

Debbie said...

You are cracking me up with this! Love the idea of a ham sandwich.

daysgoby said...

Funny how their camp experiences are never *quite* what we expected, huh? Cass went to a vacation bible school camp for a few days last summer at my mother's urging (she's pretty sure I'm damning him to hell by not having him recite the bible at age seven or something)- his biggest impression was that they sang a lot and there was always blue kool-aid.

My mother was so disappointed.

Mental P Mama said...

I love it! I went to a Jewish nursery school.... In 1960's Nashville. I think my Baptist-born mother was a little bit surprised when her four year old demanded a Menorah for Christmas that year. Good times. I love the "Camp Speak"!

nonlineargirl said...

Even for many of the jews at camp, the answer would have been the same. My secular jewish parents sent me to jcc camps, which worked out pretty well as far as jewish ed goes.

Oh, and I think it is "boker tov" (neurotically I looked it up to be sure)
http://www.transparent.com/languagepages/hebrew/player.html?../phrases/Hebrew/hte08.au

the mama bird diaries said...

i think i'll have the same experience when my girls go to Jewish preschool in the fall!

Kyla said...

LOL!

Hip Mom's Guide said...

This is so funny! I laughed out loud when she said, "Um, camp?"

Aurelia said...

Very funny! Thing is, at my kid's Jewish sleepover camp, they could care less about ham or pork, but peanut products are BANNED and everyone goes insane.

Meanwhile the one parent of a kid who is peanut allergic, really doesn't care about other kids snacks or what's for sale at the tuck shop. She is much more relaxed than the other parents!

Woman in a Window said...

I think it's wonderful that she's going somewhere that offers different ideas. If we could all spend some kick ass fun time in each other's communities perhaps some of our larger issues would fall away. Maybe we should be sending government officials to camp!

hayley said...

This is hysterical. I'm Jewish, and probably would have accidentally brought a ham sandwich too... if I wasn't a vegetarian. By the way, boker tov = good morning.

julochka said...

for some reason this just totally cracked me up and i'm not even jewish. it's really delightful tho' how she just takes it in and lives in the moment. boker tov camp disco...priceless. i can see why you say it was worth the money.