By COLlive reporter
A group of concerned Chabad parents and licensed professionals have compiled a list of recommended guidelines for girls and bochurim who are working in day camps and overnight camps this summer season. The guidelines apply to girls and boys going out across the world to help Shluchim at their respective Chabad Houses as well.
Chabad camps – typically called Camp Gan Israel or Gan Izzy – are mostly directed by a married couple but staffed by single bochurim and girls who are students or graduates of Yeshivos, schools and seminaries.
The parents in this group want to highlight the fact that in such informal environments, it is easy to relax one’s standards regarding the halachos of tznius and yichud, laws that have great benefit to all.
It is important that bochurim and girls review the halachos of yichud as they head off to camps or on shlichus.
Appropriate precautions should be taken by both the camp directors and the counselors to ensure that all interactions, whether between staff members, or between staff and parents, should take place in appropriate venues.
We must follow what halacha says as well as trusting our gut. Because some situations can be unclear, staff members must also use their intuition and speak up when something doesn’t feel or look right to them.
In the event that an uncomfortable situation arises, communicating with a parent, teacher, mashpia, or any responsible, trusted adult is key. Follow the standards, keep your boundaries, and speak to someone safe.
Here is a list of recommendations that was reviewed by a group of Rabbonim:
1. Meetings: When a male of any role (director, colleague or parent) is meeting with a female, make sure the meeting is held in a brightly lit open space preferably during daylight hours. The door should be wide open, window shades open and it would be best to have a third person join.
2. Communication: Males and females should not be text messaging directly/privately – especially if it’s between an employer and employee. Communications should be done in the public open on a Whatsapp group (or another form of texting). Phone calls or emails are fine, so long as their content is not private in nature. Emails should have spouses cc’ed.
3. Dorm: A male should not be regularly visiting the dorm or sleeping quarters of females (and vice versa). If such a visit is needed, there must be a spouse or a third party physically present, like a dorm mother ( dorm counselor is considered like a student and wouldn’t qualify as a third party ).
4. Alcohol: A male should not be saying L’chaim in the sole company of a female crowd (or at least keep it to a limited amount ie kiddish). Girls should know they have the right to leave if they feel a speaker is intoxicated, and should never be drinking together with a male or remaining alone in the room (and of course, a vehicle) when a male is intoxicated.
5. Late night: Even without alcohol intake by a male speaker, farbrengens or meetings should never take place at a late hour of the night unless a spouse is present in the room. It is generally a safe practice not to go out alone at night – whether walking, driving or working. Stay in groups of 2 or more.
6. Be alert: Not only for yourself, but for others as well. If you see a relationship (between a fellow counselor and a staff member/parent/other person) that looks uncomfortable or harmful, speak to someone safe that you can trust. If the situation is about a friend or fellow counselor, reach out to a trusted adult even if your friend may be upset with you for doing so. This is the right thing to do, halachically and for the person’s safety. If something feels “off,” it probably is “off,” say something. You are keeping yourself safe and your friends safe!
We are currently sending these guidelines stated above to camps around the world.
We are suggesting these guidelines so everyone can have a happy, chassidishe, enjoyable, memorable and safe summer experience.
From our caring hearts to yours
The names below are advocates for the information above:
Rabbi Manis Friedman
Mrs. Yehudis Karbal MA LCPC
Avi Fischoff Founder of ‘Home Sweet Home’
Aliya Girls Loft