Sunday, 30 Adar I, 5784
  |  March 10, 2024

Can Camp Canteens Help Stop the Sugar Tide?

Op-ed by Shmarya Richler: Last year, during Visiting Day at camp, I saw something very concerning. I'm not talking about the hot dogs, burgers and french fries enough to feed an army... Full Story

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June 5, 2023 11:53 pm

I think the more concerning part of this article is the father in the store scene. If a parent teaches their kids to eat healthy during the year the child will be pretty balanced in his canteen intake. Before complaining to canteen let’s talk to these parents…

Reply to  Parents
June 6, 2023 11:05 am

If the father would train and educate the child in a healthy way. The Canteen would be transgressing לפני עוור לא תיתן מכשול !
Either way fingers will be pointed toward the Canteen manager !

not necessarily
Reply to  Parents
June 6, 2023 11:43 am

some parents restrict their kids from sugar intake and the minute they have some access they shovel and grab whatever they can find. We should be having conversations about Healthy balanced mediums, and good food relationships. Fear mongering never helps

Reply to  not necessarily
June 13, 2023 10:17 am

i’ve never met anyone who that happened to.

Reply to  Parents
June 13, 2023 10:16 am

don’t let your kids eat unhealthy food and processed sugar!!!! i wish my parents would have raised me like this

Reply to  Parents
July 17, 2023 11:51 am

My family eats healthy at home and when I got to camp I didn’t have the urge to buy candie and sodas every day like other kids

Great article!!!
June 6, 2023 12:07 am

You forgot to mention it’s also a mitzvah to take care of your body. As important as many other mitzvos

Reply to  Great article!!!
June 6, 2023 10:29 am


See my article at the beginning of May addressing this issue.


Shmarya Richler

Tysm Shmarya
June 6, 2023 12:11 am

For these health articles!
These are so important!

Trio's the way to go!!!
June 6, 2023 12:17 am

Check out Trio, the new healthy drink/juice with only like 20 cal. or something and not tons of chemicals. And owned by a yid

Reply to  Trio's the way to go!!!
June 6, 2023 2:27 am

Thanks for recommending this, I’ll try it

Reply to  Trio's the way to go!!!
June 7, 2023 10:29 pm

Why so much negative on this comment? Has anyone heard of this drink? Is it unhealthy

Proud of ya bud
June 6, 2023 12:58 am

Keep on running

Nice article
Reply to  Proud of ya bud
June 6, 2023 12:15 pm

Keep in mind it’s the high fructose corn syrup that the problem
If you only bought items made with real sugar it’s ok if you’re not a diabetic
The reason is sugar has a mechanism to tell the brain I had enough not corn syrup

Very wrong!
Reply to  Nice article
June 6, 2023 3:58 pm

Refined sugar is not natural. It’s a highly processed food, and it’s poison. Your brain responds to it the same way as cocaine. The only “natural” sugar is the sugar in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains…

Thank you both!
Reply to  Nice article
June 6, 2023 5:33 pm

Shmarya and the above anonymous commentator. Excellent article! You are correct. The body does not know how to process sugar substitutes, both chemical ones and as you wrote HFCS. (Whoever voted negatively- do yourself and your body a favor and look it up.).
The canteen business is very lucrative- at the expense of kids’ health.

Bubby and Former Camper
June 6, 2023 1:17 am

Kol Hakavod for posting this view. Important message. When I went to camp out-of-town a zillion years ago, parents paid up front for canteen. They paid for the child to have either one treat a day or two a day– maximum was one candy item (1 oz.) and one small package of gum or hard candy. There were no ices, burgers, etc. sold. Each day the counselor asked us our order, and it was delivered after dinner. Everything was under control, and that was a good thing. We were thrilled with the treats we got; we didn’t know or expect… Read more »

Another concern
June 6, 2023 1:24 am

Yes, the sugar issue is of extreme concern. However, with these “sports drinks” the high caffeine content raises the level of alarm way higher.

June 6, 2023 1:31 am

I think we have to keep in mind the summer is the time the kids are meant to be enjoying themselves a bit without all the rules of school etc, so technically it’s be best that it should start throughout the year at home and in school and at home and summer should be a result. But that’s obviously not an option as everyones makes their own decisions in life.. Another thing is that candy and soda are literally the go to prizes all the time in camp and there really isn’t a substitute. “A case of soda for the… Read more »

Switch to different prizes
Reply to  Nice
June 6, 2023 10:17 am

When I was in camp the bunk that won shabbos went on a special trip. There are plenty of small inexpensive toys you could give to the winners that have no unhealthy side effects. Kids will be just as happy with any prize they get if you make it sound fun and exciting.

The wining color war team doesn’t get a prize and the kids work like crazy to win.

Reply to  Nice
June 6, 2023 9:42 pm

FYI Camps actually use Rebbe Albums as prizes, which don’t have any sugar and are highly popular.

Reply to  YMA
June 10, 2023 9:57 pm


Great article!
June 6, 2023 1:35 am

Thanks a lot!

Vital Health
June 6, 2023 2:51 am

Thanks for publicizing this. Very important for this time of year. As I remember years ago, myself being a camper then staff. I think psychologically, (at least for me). Throughout the year we are in Yeshivah. Most of the day is consumed sitting in class learning. Recess/lunch time we play (or played) a sport for 30 min or more. The physical activities are very limited to those few minutes or maybe a walk home afterwards. Whereas in the summer, we get a lot more activities then throughout the year. Therefore one may think, “I’m doing all these sports, running around… Read more »

Irresponsible parents.
June 6, 2023 4:09 am

I’m tired of seeing articles on platforms like this one every year in the weeks leading up to camp about all the issues of camp. Don’t blame all your kids problems on the 4/8 weeks a year that he’s in camp. Take responsibility as a parent and educate your son/daughter properly. I remember as a child being educated that eating candy first thing in the morning and drinkin Coca Cola and Sprite instead of water is wrong and unhealthy: camp came and shockingly I didn’t eat candy as soon as I woke up and didn’t substitute Gatorade for water. Take… Read more »

Esther Hadassa
June 6, 2023 4:23 am

Wow…thank you Shmar for this great post! I would add that sugar profoundly impacts mood (it depresses serotonin which is the main component of the mood medication Prozac) – so affects children’s mood as well as it’s part in weight gain, ADD, ADHD and risk of diabetes. Camp is a wonderful opportunity to meet new and old friends, spend time in nature, and learn in expansive ways; as the Rebbe says – both Torah and refining middos. Such a shame to compromise a child’s mood for this great experience. Children naturally have great flow and need lots of nourishment –… Read more »

Agree 100%
June 6, 2023 6:32 am

Great article. I hope camp directors take note

wrong emphasis
June 6, 2023 7:13 am

while this is a problem, we have more pressing issues. focus on erlichkeit and yiras shamayim. how many kids come from homes with open internet? focus on that and encourage them to get filters!

The most common misguided response
Reply to  wrong emphasis
June 6, 2023 10:57 am

With this theory, we can theorize further. Because there are too few bridges in Africa we should not fix potholes in Crown Heights

Thanks for the laughs
Reply to  The most common misguided response
June 6, 2023 5:40 pm

Spot on!!!

Another huge benefit
June 6, 2023 9:22 am

Is that with less sugar, caffeine and and food coloring in their bodies, the kids will behave WAY better making it a nicer experience for everyone in camp!

Nutrition professional
June 6, 2023 9:54 am

As someone in the nutrition field, while I agree that the amount of sugar being consumed is alarming, I DO NOT think attacking camp/canteen is “worth it.” 4 weeks of extra treats in camp is not going to make or break a kid. The issue is whether the children are brought up in homes with balanced meals. Kids should be allowed to be kids. If there are healthy foods being supplied in the home, then any extra “junk” is not concerning. I’m more concerned about how the yeshivas seem to be giving more and more candy as rewards. While it’s… Read more »

When I was in pardas chana
June 6, 2023 10:00 am

we were only allowed to buy max 2 items a day. which i think was very smart.

Camp Emunah
Reply to  When I was in pardas chana
June 6, 2023 5:57 pm

Camp Emunah does the same thing!!

To "Wrong Emphasis"
June 6, 2023 10:35 am

Maybe you could consider that both are very important. Different yes, nevertheless extremely important. The amount of sugar and chemicals consumed by kinderklach these days is very concerning. It actually can affect that learning you refer to, as well as memory, focus, physical health, mood. When left unaddressed, lifelong problems often develop. So I wouldn’t be so quick to say “wrong emphasis”, just another related emphasis.

Excellent point!
June 6, 2023 11:15 am

Great Op-ed, I just have to say that fruit juice has a negative impact as well.

Reply to  Excellent point!
June 13, 2023 10:18 am

real 100% organic fruit juice is fine.

Random guy
June 6, 2023 11:33 am

The best way to be healthy is to eliminate bread and all wheat products and avoid all seed oils like canola grape seed,cotton seed,corn etc and only use avocado,coconut or olive oil and to eat lots of grass fed grass finished beef and raw unpasteurized not homogenized grass fed raw milk/ dairy look up carnivore md for more info.

Reply to  Random guy
June 13, 2023 10:19 am

i’ve tried that diet before. then i became kosher and now i try to eat vegetarian

It’s ok
June 6, 2023 12:06 pm

It’s ok once a year for the kid to have some candy. Write about important things.

Reply to  It’s ok
June 13, 2023 10:20 am

it’s not ok

Partially agree
June 6, 2023 1:29 pm

So I agree with the whole no piling ur cart with snacks and other garbage but altho camp gives 3 meals we are running around and getting hungry really quickly and want to snack on things in btwn. When we were younger we wld bring tons of snacks and snack on those but as we got older we actually preffered to snack on more healthier choices. Now we bring snack which is totally fine just not overload and we also bring crackers, tuna,rice cakes, heart of palm, pickles ect… And just to point out girls camps don’t have fast food… Read more »

Reply to  Partially agree
June 9, 2023 3:16 pm

i very much agree with this point and honestly its what the parents decide to give their children when they go to camp

very alarming
June 6, 2023 3:23 pm

Kids consuming junk, very very alarming. not good for them (don’t forget that their knowledge is still limited, they are kids!)

Adults consuming junk food??
Since grown ups have to act like grown ups, we should really take care of what we are eating. its an obligation from Torah.
We have plenty of info out there today of how to have a healthier lifestyle.
And also how to beat the yetzer Hora everyday. (that thing that we call hiskafiya etc)

Reply to  very alarming
June 13, 2023 10:20 am

healthy habits start at birth

Thank you!
June 6, 2023 3:40 pm

Pls camps take note, and do not sell soda or sport drinks in the canteen this year!! We parents would really appreciate it!

Visiting day
June 6, 2023 4:59 pm

This is why most camps are stopping visiting day

Why not
June 11, 2023 8:05 pm

Why not sell unsweetened no chemicals soda, juice, packaged hummus/crackers, packaged guacamole/crackers, pretzels, nuts, fruit strips, cold water, popcorn, and the like. Shop for healthy convenient-sized options. Kids get accustomed to those things when they are thirsty/hungry and there are no junk options!

August 13, 2023 4:46 pm

There are plenty of treats much healthier than soda and candy! Ok, once in a while, but every day and so much? Not ok! Where are the adults whose job it is to set good examples and teach healthy options? A canteen could sell delicious fruits, cheese and crackers, fruit rolls, juice, nonsugar carbonated drink, veggies with dip, trail mix, nuts. Be creative, use imagination.