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Put Yourself in the Head Counselor’s Shoes

A former head counselor of a Chabad overnight summer camp responds to a mother's public letter on COLlive.com addressed to staff members and titled "Before You Single Out That Child…" Full Story

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June 17, 2021 11:46 pm

i was waiting for a response to that post

Everybody got it all wrong
Reply to  finaly
June 18, 2021 1:37 am

First and foremost, the author of this article, (which we will call the OP), makes the claim that “most head staff don’t ‘bellow’ and scream.” This is absolutely false. I say this as someone who has been a camper, staff member, and head staff member. In fact, one of the first things camps look for in head staff is for someone who can scream and “control a room.” Now with the substance of the OP’s argument: The gist of the article is that staff members have poured hundreds of hours into developing a summer program. Comes the first day of… Read more »

Reply to  finaly
June 24, 2021 4:18 am

Not to minimize anybody’s imagined trauma from overnight camp, but I think this is a bit overdramatic. BH we live in a time where our kids have such a great opportunity to go to camp. My grandparents were in an overnight camp called Auschwitz-Birkenau and I don’t think I heard them complain in their entire lives about everything combined, as people today complain about CGI Montreal or whatever. They were always happy az der bashefer hut unz geratevet und az m’ken vaiter dinen dem oibershten. Maybe we could tried instilling a bit more resilience into our precious children. Btw, I… Read more »

Reply to  #metoo
June 25, 2021 2:17 pm

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume you don’t have any children of your own.
Number one, just because someone had it worse doesn’t mean this is not a problem,
Number 2, there’s never an excuse to humiliate ANYONE, let alone a younger developing child who will certainly remember that moment for the rest of his/her life.
Number 3, to say “just be happy az der aibershter hot gegebn etc” is a very noble thing to say for your own struggles. Not someone else’s. That’s just cruelty.

Humiliated child
June 17, 2021 11:50 pm

My som who had a hard time learning but was not a behavior problem told me that when his bunk won learning competition one week and got to go night swimming, his learning counselor told him he can’t participate in the swimming cause he doesn’t learn as much as the other boys. My son only told me this story as an adult and he cried as he told me about the experience so many years later.
So while yes there are difficult children, there are also evil staff members.

You're all confused
Reply to  Humiliated child
June 18, 2021 1:33 am

What kind of bunk wins learning class competition!?!? A bunk wins bunk competition, and a learning class wins learning a class competition.
That’s probably why they didn’t let him go swimming.

Reply to  Humiliated child
June 18, 2021 1:44 am

I don’t think evil is the right word

Reply to  Humiliated child
June 18, 2021 1:50 am

It’s so tough To hear that. I hope he’s more confident and happier now?

Times have changed
Reply to  Humiliated child
June 18, 2021 11:19 am

Much has changed since then, much has changed.

I had it with my boy at yeshivah
Reply to  Times have changed
June 20, 2021 1:22 am

He didn’t behaved well that morning or was not participating in the davening and was punished by sending to the lowest grade for the 15 – 20 minutes recess time, but was completely forgotten by his teacher for a few good hours, basically till the end of the day… and meanwhile all class went to a field trip that my son also supposed to go because he learned so hard all month to be part of it and got only good marks… he is big boy now but he will never forget it and me too.. all his learning efforts… Read more »

I think there’s more to the story
Reply to  Humiliated child
June 18, 2021 2:56 pm

Sounds like, (and maybe I’m wrong) the boy made trouble, but the class did really well, as a consequence which is very healthy IMO, he was left out of the prize

You can’t punish child like that ever
Reply to  I think there’s more to the story
June 20, 2021 1:23 am

It’s not healthy

As a mechanech
June 17, 2021 11:57 pm

If you have to resort to the method you’re describing, you shouldn’t be in a position of authority.
One does not assert his authority through fear.
That would make a horrible teacher.

A good teacher is one that asserts his authority through presence and mode of speaking. Yes, there are difficult kids. But embarrassing a kid, no matter how bad he is misbehaving, is wrong and does unspeakable damage.

Perhaps you are just too young and inexperienced to be a head counselor.

Reply to  As a mechanech
June 18, 2021 1:47 am

With all due respect, I don’t agree with humiliating a kid at all, but being that you’re writing in a way that because you are a mechanical you understand the situation, you really don’t. Teaching a class and trying to get a room filled with several classes worth of boys quiet is two different things

As a teacher
Reply to  Evil?
June 18, 2021 2:56 am

No. Its really similar methods. If you feel your only option is to emotionally hurt a child, then you need to set up the dynamics differently. For example: Don’t have all the campers in one room at once for a grand speech at the start. Break up the groups.

As a Mechanech and School Principal I agree
Reply to  As a teacher
June 18, 2021 11:17 am

A crowd of children that large is hard for anyone to control. Instilling fear is not an option. You are also speaking to different groups. How can bunk Alef and buck Yud Alef be spoke to the same way and at the same venue for these all important announcements. These speeches should not be given to more then 3-4 bunks at a time and age appropriate. I still remember my first day at CGI overnight camp (I will leave out which one it was). 37 years ago I was a camper in bunk Bais. I had never been to camp… Read more »

Reply to  As a mechanech
June 18, 2021 11:50 am

You have not been a crown heights teacher to experience the chutzpah up front.

Did you?
Reply to  As a mechanech
June 18, 2021 1:34 pm

As a Mechanech, did you ever kick a kid out of the class?
You did, right, just like all teachers.
So this is the same thing.

I agree!!!
Reply to  As a mechanech
June 20, 2021 2:41 pm

Bochurim think they know everything and have zero experience.

2 separate camps
June 18, 2021 12:01 am

I think the staff and campers should have two separate camps, so they don’t interfere with each other and cause fights.

Yes! Yes!
Reply to  2 separate camps
June 18, 2021 2:11 am

That is a great idea!
Also, if people stop getting married maybe that can stop the aguna crisis!
We are such geniuses!

So smart
Reply to  2 separate camps
June 18, 2021 2:38 pm

Haha! That’s really funny.
Did I get your suggestion right- 2 camps? 2 for staff members and 1 for campers 🤣

Pathetic response
June 18, 2021 12:04 am

I’ve seen this every year happen as a camper and counselor in camp and it’s disgusting. Always bothered me.

The blue cap
June 18, 2021 12:18 am

How about we just eliminate the blue cap
And that will solve all the problems. No more of the “you in the blue cap, Get out of the shull”. Camp should have a dress code that no blue caps allowed, for that matter, no caps allowed!!

Reply to  The blue cap
June 18, 2021 2:54 am

The solution is so simple. How do little children even have access to blue caps?! Oy

This is a safety issue
Reply to  The blue cap
June 18, 2021 10:53 am

Caps and hats protect you from the sun and elements.
In the summer it’s hot, wearing a cap keeps the kid a normal temperature. What are you suggesting is dangerous.

What does it have to do
Reply to  The blue cap
June 18, 2021 2:13 pm

What does one have to do with the other

All true
June 18, 2021 12:21 am

Ya Ya Ya, so just publish that first day customary speech on youtube. It will make a huge kiddush hashem.

June 18, 2021 12:22 am


Reply to  Parent
June 18, 2021 3:06 am


Reply to  Parent
June 18, 2021 3:24 am


June 18, 2021 12:39 am

I don’t think the counselors and campers as not that fault as being yes. Little kids! What’s the head counselor already, 20 21? I don’t think they realize. You can damage a kid FOR life! You maybe don’t know but this kid is struggling mentally or comes from a broken home and is seeking attention or just los a parent in carona, you don’t know that you can be the cause to even suicide! You have to be careful before just worrying about your authority! Count to ten before yelling at a child. Or taking a trip away from a… Read more »

Reply to  Me!
June 18, 2021 1:28 am

As a man who went to camp 7 years as a kid and as a staff member 3 years, not one time did the head counselor actually take away a trip from someone.

Reply to  Listen
June 18, 2021 9:15 am

Really I’ve seen otherwise!

Taking away a trip
Reply to  Listen
June 18, 2021 9:19 am

My son had a trip taken away from him. His crime, that he had trouble getting up in the morning. Some extra motivation from the staff would have helped. He also did not tell me until many years later.

I have seen that many times
Reply to  Listen
June 18, 2021 9:32 am

I saw kids being forced to sit out a period of time on the grand trip a number of times.

Ya, ok
Reply to  Listen
June 18, 2021 12:07 pm

I lost my trips.
I saw people on every trip lose their trip.
Open your eyes

Reply to  Listen
June 18, 2021 1:39 pm

It happened to my son. He went to a camp whose selling point was the amazing trips. The problem was that during the week there was not much happening except for learning all day. The boys were so bored that they took to playing with fire extinguishers. Understandably, my son was told he could not go on the jet skiing trip that week. Imagine our surprise when he called all excited to tell us that not only did he go in the trip, he rode the jet ski longer than everyone else. They didn’t follow through on the discipline and… Read more »

Proving the point
Reply to  Happens
June 30, 2021 5:11 pm

No control is a result from no punishments to an extent.
The point is not if to punish, but rather how you punish

Fill out the forms
Reply to  Me!
June 18, 2021 10:55 am

For this exact reason camp has multiple sections so you can include these kind of sensitive details.
When a staff member has a full picture of things he can deal with these cases appropriately. However when a parent chooses to ignore these boxes because “ of course my kid is normal“ what else do you expect?

if honest
Reply to  Fill out the forms
June 19, 2021 11:36 pm

If every parent were honest, many would not be allowed to send their kid to camp. camp, “our camp does not cater to those issues.”

June 18, 2021 12:46 am

If you don’t have the confidence in your position to put your name to it, what does it say about your position? The point of the original letter was that there are better ways to handle discipline than by publicly humiliating a kid. Not that the Head Counselor should let things slide. There are usually more than one Head Counselor; perhaps an option that would solve your concern of establishing control – yet not humiliate a child – would be for one of the other Head Counselors to discreetly walk over and remove the kid for discipline. And if gathering… Read more »

let’s not get worked up yes?
Reply to  Anonymous?
June 18, 2021 1:31 am

it was me that wrote it and just because i lack confidence in sharing my name with position it doesn’t mean that it has to do with my position itself. you would also not want to put ur name if it was ruchameh bashkeh.

Response to the response
June 18, 2021 12:59 am

This head counselor, into whose shoes we shoes we should put ourselves, shouldn’t be a head counselor. Simply put, if a head counselor can’t silence a room with his presence alone, his personality is clearly insufficiently strong to satisfy the requirements of his job.

I was a boy who was regularly singled out for menial mischief, and the trauma I endured lingers still today. It’s better to have an uncontrolled room every day of the summer than to cause even one boy to suffer the pain I suffered, and still suffer.

Get a grip
Reply to  Response to the response
June 18, 2021 6:24 am

And I was a boy who was the new kid in the school several times over (my family moved around a lot), and endured probably more than my share of harassment from other kids. I had a counselor who once kicked me repeatedly (this was 40 years ago; things are much different now). But you know what? You get older and these things fade away; I’m on great terms now even with all those boys who bullied me. If your trauma and pain still linger, then maybe you need to stop dwelling on it so much and find something constructive… Read more »

Reply to  Get a grip
June 18, 2021 7:40 am

Are you really healed from those scars or are they just suppressed and present themselves in others ways. Children are in a very vulnerable position. And very impressionable. They are very affected by their surroundings. That’s the basic idea of chinuch. That we do have to be so careful with children becuz they are so sensitive. That’s why we only have kosher animals and are careful the things they see and here and make sure it’s Torah and positive. So to just say oh it does not matter and get over it there must be suppressed pain.

Well, thank you, Mr. Shrink
Reply to  Really?
June 18, 2021 1:23 pm

But since you don’t know who I am, then your whole post is nonsense. Yes, kids are sensitive. They’re not glass, though, and normal people do get over their typical childhood upsets. Consider what it says in Chassidus about kids getting angry over small picayune matters because they lack the daas to keep things in perspective – but when they get older, they think differently, without any of this notion of “suppressed scars” and so forth.

i’ve been doing this for a few years
Reply to  Get a grip
June 18, 2021 11:02 am

Everyone is talking about trauma lingers for years. The most important thing is safety Period.
When he had counselor shows a lack of discipline or control the entire tower crumbles.
What everyone is suggesting, is that we let the campers run the camp. Having the a ball always in the campers court. You tell me if you oh wow your child what to do?!
Restricting the stuff to get a grip of things you’re not asking for a successful summer you’re not asking for a successful day you’re not asking for a successful Davening.

Everyone is different
Reply to  i’ve been doing this for a few years
June 21, 2021 8:22 am

People are different and have different coping skills and resilience levels. When someone claims he/she was traumatized, just believe him/her. I’m sure “getting over it” is an idea that they thought of too, so no need to suggest that. Just trust people that they are doing the best that they can with their tools. And show empathy, not judgment.

Thank you
June 18, 2021 1:05 am

Very well said.

i pushot don’t understand.
June 18, 2021 1:10 am

i agree with both letters. both letters are what i agree with. letter one is not more right then letter two. letter two is not more right then letter one. i am in agreement with both. letter one is right. letter two is right. both letters are correct. there are both more right. righteous are both.

Reply to  i pushot don’t understand.
June 18, 2021 2:00 am

Well said.

personal thoughts.
June 18, 2021 1:14 am

i’m not sure the level of tznius it is for boys to be wearing such color caps. blue is a very flashy color and i’m not sure i want to send one of my eighteen sons k”h to a camp that allows this rule. if there’s one thing my tante rivkah stood for it was not wearing bright color caps we don’t want to have any tznius halachos mistreated over here.

Reply to  personal thoughts.
June 18, 2021 1:48 am

This is not a joking matter

Thank you
Reply to  personal thoughts.
June 18, 2021 2:57 am

When I sent my kids to gan Yisroel back in the mems, they didn’t have all of this “blue cap” technology. It’s a shame, that these new goyishe trends have infiltrated into crown heights

Reply to  personal thoughts.
June 18, 2021 2:58 am

Your jokes aren’t funny!

Personal thoughts for president
Reply to  personal thoughts.
June 18, 2021 11:20 am

This is genius how you were able to take such a “problem” and find the source of it all

what’s this blue caps shtus?
June 18, 2021 1:17 am

these BLUE caps should be BANNED. the last thing we need are a mob of democratic looking yeshiva bochurs.

Reply to  what’s this blue caps shtus?
June 18, 2021 1:31 am

Do you just not like the color blue? Is red better? Green? White? Etc

What is considered a "korban"
June 18, 2021 1:21 am

The reason why it would not be fair to call a kid a “korban” is firstly because a “Korban” is an animal and we are humans, Secondly, there are many different types of korbonos. Let’s start with the Korban Tzibor, we cannot call him that because By this Korban everyone must pay, but in this case, there is no money involved. We can also cannot call him a Korban Ola, because to whom are we burning him? The head staff? Hashem? Who are the head staff to compare themselves to hashem? We can’t call him a Korban Shilamim, because Who… Read more »

Jokes aside
Reply to  What is considered a "korban"
June 18, 2021 1:55 pm

The reality is children are korbanos from day 1 that they are born. From when spouses have a hard day and let it out on their kids, to children in school or camp that get “beaten” for just being their naive selves and being teased that “you are so gullible and a goody goody.” I guess you be the rabbi to decide which Korban they belong in connection with.

The Korban
Reply to  Jokes aside
June 18, 2021 3:30 pm

I would say קרבן אשם תלוי because we are not sure if they did anything wrong. Because if we did know what they did wrong it would be A קרבן חטת.

hey i remember you were a staff member!!
June 18, 2021 1:23 am

yasher koach on the great summer we’ve spent together yes the kids were safe at all times and mainly thanks to you! – it’s yossi the learning directer from tuf shin pey

it’s time i be exposed.
June 18, 2021 1:25 am

i guess i’ll own up to the truth right now. it was me. i’m the kid in the blue cap.

Public shaming, heard of this one time 2 many
June 18, 2021 1:30 am

It’s not that uncommon at all, especially with certain head staff or counselors Some people should just not be head counselors or counselors, there are many jobs that need to get done, not everyone is cut out to deal with kids… There will be kids who don’t behave… most of them, contrary to what you write in your article, are not wishing to actually be the center of attention, but are struggling with impulsivity or proper social skills. It should not be the job of the head counselor speaking to deal with that child. It’s most often too hard to… Read more »

June 18, 2021 1:46 am

the only solution is having the camp run by MARRIED STAFF. like rabbi yosef kliens program. tzeireihatmimim.com

the only problem there is the yidish, which is not for everyone. but the same model could be done in english.

The only solution
June 18, 2021 8:03 am

Which married men would move into camp with their families for 2 months and work 24-7 without getting paid?

Not 100% true
June 18, 2021 8:18 am

While Rabbi Kleins camp is great, only the teachers are married staff, the counselors and head counselors are usually 770 bochurim

Being married doesn’t help
June 18, 2021 10:14 am

Whether or not your married makes no difference you will have a married guy who will embarrass a kid just as much

married staff hurt kids too
June 18, 2021 11:12 am

It doesn’t matter whether one is married or not. Many married teachers hurt and damage students for life. Many married ones are not sensitive to the child’s feelings and don’t know how to handle a discipline problem. Children needed to be guided, listened to and taught right from wrong in a loving caring way. Many married ones don’t do that and also humiliate the kids and don’t try to understand the student and work with him/her. And there are not married ones who are amazing with the children; they have a ‘chush’; their nature is nurturing, loving and sensitive to… Read more »

Married men...
June 18, 2021 11:39 am

Married men don’t magically turn into people who know how to deal with kids properly.

Some people are simply more “geshicked” in this area and training helps a ton as well.

And some kids truly struggle in sitting still, and need a more individualized plan.

rabbi kleins teachers
Reply to  Married men...
June 22, 2021 4:32 pm

rabbi kleins teachers are all experienced teachers. married just means that they have been at this job throughout the year. they teach in chadorim, and are real mechanchim.

Two separate world's
June 18, 2021 1:52 am

If anyone believes that discipline is not a option, give a better way how to control a room with more than 200 camper’s.

Discipline is not a punishment
Reply to  Two separate world's
June 18, 2021 3:17 am

Pls educate yourself and the camp
Staff how to create positive discipline.

Remember that children will listen to you AFTER they feel listened to. So the first thing you can do to train children to listen is to MODEL listening.

LA Morah
Reply to  Discipline is not a punishment
June 18, 2021 11:01 am

Hello? Lichora,children need to listen. That’s should be the expectation. Unfortunately,many frum people have been poisoned by today’s popular attitudes on chinuch which has lead to a lack of kabalis ohl.

where are the counselors???
Reply to  Two separate world's
June 18, 2021 11:16 am

Isn’t there a counselor for each bunk? Why can’t the counselor quietly lead the troublemaker out, have a talk with him and come back in with him. or sometimes just taking him aside next to you helps. Or have him go on stage to say one of the pesukim or the Rebbe’s kapital.
or send him on errand to bring paper and pen from the office – anything.
There are many ways to handle it without hurting him – you never know why he’s disrupting, you may even have the wrong kid, maybe another kid started it, is bothering him.

when I was a camper
Reply to  where are the counselors???
June 19, 2021 11:49 pm

When I was a camper, the head counselor’s speech happened before the bunks were divided.

Why is nobody talking about the blue caps?!
June 18, 2021 2:07 am

Blue is a very not tznius color, and for that matter boys wearing caps is very modern. I would not send my son to a camp that allows blue caps!! Chas veshalom!! I send my sons to camp to be more chassidish not to frye out! It is very unexeptable that caps are even mentioned in this post! Maybe instead use Tzitzis as an example.

shliach former head counslor
June 18, 2021 2:18 am

Don’t be mean to kids Period! It is well known that camp staff who don’t like a kid or care for their last name, bully the kid. their is no excuse and no valid explanation humble yourselfs and listen to what this mother is saying.

well known?
Reply to  shliach former head counslor
June 18, 2021 1:00 pm

I never knew this since when is this a well known fact?
I’ll answer that myself, because its not a fact at all!

So I’ll submit my experience
Reply to  well known?
June 21, 2021 9:41 am

We went paintball shooting and we were broken up into teams. One of my teammates was a counselor that shot me and laughed himself silly. To begin with I wasn’t having a great summer, yet the message that I received was that I’m so unlikable that I was targeted by my own teammate. It is still painful today when I think about it, knowing that when I needed nurture, the menu was the opposite. I wish the man well and I’d imagine if he knew that he hurt me, he’d apologize. It doesn’t effect me day to day, so that’s… Read more »

it’s incredibly unfortunate..
June 18, 2021 2:53 am

when i was a fifteen year old yungerman i was called out and yelled at for not behaving well at meal time. yes, slingshotting salami slices around the room isn’t very menchlich but the punishment of having to serve in the kitchen for the rest of the month just doesn’t seem to do justice to the act even though it’s midah kineged midah. i now can’t order falafel from essen bench because it brings trauma of the neon green kind i was forced to make for over three hundred campers.

Best comment
Reply to  it’s incredibly unfortunate..
June 20, 2021 6:02 pm

This is by far the best comment I’ve seen on this article

As a teacher
June 18, 2021 2:53 am

You do not need to humiliate people to enforce authority. There are more successful methods to attain discipline, without hurting people emotionally. If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable using them, don’t accept the responsibility. Perhaps camps should get older and experienced Head Staff.

Not the first
Reply to  As a teacher
June 18, 2021 11:29 am

You are not the first to mention the “other methods” to control a shul of 200 kids yet no one even hinted to what those other methods may be

As a teacher
Reply to  Not the first
June 18, 2021 8:05 pm

You are right. I don’t think this is the proper platform to explain those methods at length, especially as a comment.
To list some suggestions, in brief:
1) Maybe begin the summer by speaking to smaller groups at a time.
2) Establishing a different type of culture.
3) Having a second head staff quietly remove the disturbing campers and having discussions with them not in public

You actually have no idea
Reply to  As a teacher
June 18, 2021 11:36 am

The best teacher in the world may still not be able to get a camp shul quiet, completely 2 different things.
It is not easy.
Humiliation is not ok and not a way, but to all the “I am a teacher so I know” comments, you do not know. Why don’t you go try it yourself?

As a teacher
Reply to  You actually have no idea
June 18, 2021 8:07 pm

I was actually a head staff member in Camp Montreal as well. I believe those involved in Chinuch understand what I was referring to. The Head Staff do not have much experience, and therefore think this is their only option. In truth, they have many other options – and they are often far more effective. I listed just a few in a previous comment.

Blue cap
June 18, 2021 2:55 am

Ok this blue cap is causing issues. Why don’t we just eliminate it and use tzitzis instead? Besides, blue is a very flashy color and caps are very modern looking! Anyways, this article is very inspirational and I agree 100 percent on the writers views. It’s very hard to discipline so many campers all in one room and if you just go over to the kid after, then the rest of the campers will not learn their lesson on misbehaving because it seems like the troublemaker got away with it!

I think
June 18, 2021 2:57 am

I think that if the head staff were actually paid then They wouldn’t be so harsh. They are letting out their anger because they aren’t getting paid! Money is always the issue in these types of situations.

You have 3rd option
June 18, 2021 3:10 am

Remember that education is derived from the Latin word educaré, which means to “draw forth.” Lectures are an attempt to “stuff in.”
most people think discipline and punishment are synonymous, and they are not. All of the Positive Discipline books are filled with discipline ideas — and all of them are non-punitive and teach children valuable life skills such as self-discipline, cooperation, responsibility and problem-solving.

Reply to  You have 3rd option
June 18, 2021 11:08 am

Now apply that too 11 year old, who’s only Goal is for him to show his bunk mates that’s he’s “cool“.

Invest in the staff Chinuh first
Reply to  Amazing!
June 20, 2021 1:40 am

First of all Make sure that all staff went through few lectures or small course from the experienced Hanhalla, psychologist or social worker. Few techniques of ED can be taught how to deal with “ troublemakers “, how to get child attention and how to motivate kids and use their energy in the positive ways.
Empathy, love, positive vibes will do the job

Reply to  You have 3rd option
June 18, 2021 11:23 am

I wanted to cry when I read that!!! R u just trying to show of ur latin?!!

The best solution
June 18, 2021 3:21 am

Is not to expect the head counselor to single handedly “control” 200 campers, but to have all the rest of the staff spread among the children making sure they are quietly listening to instructions. If a child is still not behaving they can bring him outside to wait for the head counselor, who will them deal with this child’s discipline. Hatzlacha to all the dedicated staff!

This is ridiculous
June 18, 2021 5:41 am

Someone writes an article about abusive staff members and all these people are here to defend it and explain it away. This is the issue.

some thoughts to consider
June 18, 2021 7:20 am

Here’s a number of thoughts that seem to me worth contemplating: No child should ever be made into a “korban” in the sense of being yelled out or punished even though he did nothing wrong, for the sole purpose of showing the group that the person in authority means business. It’s true that shaming or humiliating kids is extremely undesirable. It’s also true that kids do NEED to be disciplined in order to develop proper behavior. Individual kids need to receive discipline, and the group of kids need it too. Sometimes it is appropriate to save the discipline for a… Read more »

Agree 100%
Reply to  some thoughts to consider
June 19, 2021 11:56 pm

Agree 100%

As a former head staff/mechanech
June 18, 2021 7:46 am

I used to be a mechanech in a very illustrious mosed before I moved out on shlichus, and I was a head staff in one of the mainstream chabad camps so I most certainly know a thing or two about how to deal with kids, I would like to tell you about a particular incident, one day I was taking care of lunch and trying to get the dining room quiet a kid was making funny faces at me and he started cracking me up so left with no choice I had to show him who was boss and I… Read more »

Why not to involve the camper in what you was doin
Reply to  As a former head staff/mechanech
June 18, 2021 11:09 am

When child “make faces “ he is seeking your attention, to kick out is not to machaneh at all. Why you wasn’t taking him aside, talking about his feelings and what bothers him, make good conversation and involve him in helping you set up the Dining room /or other activities, why not to put him in charge of something? To elevate and not humiliate

He was a best camper not because of you

Fear ok?
Reply to  As a former head staff/mechanech
June 18, 2021 11:29 am

Maybe he was best camper cuz he was so traumatized by that experience, being kicked out. You can have a big, mean policeman standing over him and he’ll be the best camper. That doesn’t mean that it was the correct method of chinuch. And even if for him it was, doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. You don’t even know whom you’re dealing with and how it can effect the child. so don’t take any chances. Show him love, Yemin Mekaravess!! And if he was kicked out cuz you felt you can’t control yourself and have no choice, then definitely have… Read more »

Live in the moment
Reply to  Fear ok?
June 18, 2021 1:59 pm

What do you think is happening at that time? He is standing in front of 300 campers trying to make sure they know what’s going on next now the kid is making faces should he let all the campers just wait sit back down and speak to that kid privately? No. You kick him out to have that control than you speak to the kid and see what’s wrong. Consequences are a part of life they have to know they did something wrong without coddling them every second

Fear ok?
Reply to  Live in the moment
June 18, 2021 2:28 pm

He can be taken out of the dining room quietly by his counselor. The reply was to emphasize that just because he became the best camper does not mean that it was the proper method of chinuch.

No child should be made a negative example of
June 18, 2021 8:34 am

Please do not use one child to teach a lesson to the entire camp. It is humiliating. The shame carries on for many years. It is not okay to embarrass a child in this way. Perhaps a second staff member can quietly go up to the one or two boys who has a hard time sitting still and walk with him out of the room. Or maybe instead he can simply be moved to the front bench so he can be away from the boys he feels comfortable being disruptive with and can listen more closely to the head counselor.… Read more »

Food for thought
June 18, 2021 8:35 am

There is room for discipline when it comes out of love not out of fear/ anger that a child didn’t do what you want. Reality is children won’t do what we want and we need to give them the tools and guide them how to use it and make the right choices for themselves. It all needs to come out of love otherwise you gotta step back until your in a place that you can talk to the child with out the child feeling attacked or shame , embarrassed. That does not mean that after talking with child you won’t… Read more »

Parents Job
Reply to  Food for thought
June 20, 2021 12:03 am

Parents need to give their children the tools and skills to follow the camp’s rules. The head counselor’s speech happens as soon as the campers go off of the buses. So, there is no time for them to learn said skills the second camp starts.

Yael Brummel
June 18, 2021 8:36 am

While important, let’s put behavior, humiliating etc. aside for a moment, it’s not an easy issue to solve through an article. Let me focus on the other extreme end of things – The staff are literally babies themselves ! I have great memories of camp, but what I remember well is the favoritism that went on in camp- it was so immature – the natural Rochel’s (vs. Leahs) who were cute, dressed well or acted confident got so much attention from the staff – honestly, when you think about it, it’s so pathetic! I was an immigrant, really not the… Read more »

I agree camps need uniforms
Reply to  Yael Brummel
June 18, 2021 11:16 am

Simple same camp t-shirts everyday it will save the budget for many families and same color skirts /pants.

Reply to  Yael Brummel
June 18, 2021 4:37 pm

Another idea – camp should do laundry more frequently so parents don’t need to spend so much on clothing

June 18, 2021 8:40 am

we all know its a staff members job like a teacher to keep the campers/students in line. obviously some people have different opinions and experiences but we all know that its the camps responsibility/liability and they need the campers to know that if a camper was to break a rule they need to know this behavior is not accepted at that camp.

Not my experience
June 18, 2021 8:44 am

I worked in a camp where all the kids were troubled. Also in the mountains. The third alternative is you assign more staff to help the troubled kid. Why do we keep losing Jews? Because we throw them in the. Garbage. Perhaps having a social worker on staff would be beneficial to many campers but even more so to frustrated staff

Camp are run like a business
June 18, 2021 8:46 am

I have been a staff member for lets say, more than 7 years. All side have good points. Unfortunately, I feel that most ( not all) camps are now run as a business and that is the issue. A solution would be to pay different professional speakers that have experience in or with camp environment to speak to the counselors before camp and also to the campers when camp starts ( but that could cost money….an extra expense)

Most ppl who criticize others
June 18, 2021 8:54 am

Have never Been in that position…
As mothers we often mess up, none of us are perfect, how do we expect young boys to be perfect? Or teachers?
We can always learn more, guide, and do better, but criticism rarely teaches.
If you have a concern, voice it in a respectful way and treat your child’s chinuch as a partnership. Both sides will never be perfect and can always improve with the right guidance

Best comment
Reply to  Most ppl who criticize others
June 18, 2021 1:40 pm

It’s fascinating to me how people expect everyone else to be perfect besides themselves, and have perfect solutions to matters they have never dealt with themselves.
And no, I’m not a bochur. I am a mother sending her child away to camp.
We could all use some more bittul…

Singled out
June 18, 2021 9:00 am

Getting sent out in front of the whole camp is not considered being made into a korban. Being made into a korban is what teachers would do if you misbehaved in yeshiva in the 70’s. The teacher would sit down in an armless chair in front of the whole class and place your stomach over his lap and potch you. Or he would lay you flat across his desk to prepare you for an embarrassing public classroom spanking! Now that helpless feeling of over the lap or table with your arms and legs hanging straight down made you feel like… Read more »

Overnight Summer Camps
June 18, 2021 9:27 am

Overnight Summer camps are a category for themselves.
It is incorrect and unfair to compare them to class rooms, day camps, or dormitories.

It is a unique kind of experience that calls for a strong level of discipline (not humiliation).

You can find the same level of discipline in secular and non jewish overnight camps as well.

Another point: being sent out of the shul (even in a public manor) is not necassarily humiliating. It depends on how it’s done

Overnight Summer Camps #2
June 18, 2021 9:38 am

Food for thought: If your child was being bullied by the boy in the blue cap, if he was being stolen from, or being beaten up – would you still expect the HC to wait to have a heart to heart with the bully, or do you expect them to make it stop, even if it is uncomfortable for the boy in the blue cap. On a similar note: Parents, he might be your little angel, but he might be someone else’s little devil. Also, a HS member has 200 kids to care for, not just yours. Do you ever… Read more »

Head counselors DO Bellow and Scream
June 18, 2021 9:48 am

When I was a young kid in overnight camp, the Head Counselors would scream all the time, I am not exaggerating.

Once during bedside inspection, the head counselor began to yell at a 9 year old boy in his face why his bed had some sand on it. “WHY DOES YOUR BED FEEL LIKE A SANDBOX?!” the kid began to cry.

Things like this happened all the time throughout the summer. Kids don’t forget these things.

Hold on a sec
June 18, 2021 10:04 am

I was a counselor of 12 kids when I was 18 years old. Why would anyone trust me?? If you send your kid to Parksville or Montreal, or any of these huge camps, you’re basically giving them a summer to learn to fend for themselves. It’s natural selection. The weak get picked off by bullies, counselors, head counselors, etc. If you send your kid who has issues to these camps, you are setting them up for failure. If your kid wets the bed at 10 years old, he will be bullied. If your kid has behavioral problems, he will be… Read more »

Hopefully you are not working today with kids
Reply to  Hold on a sec
June 20, 2021 1:01 am

All what you have mentioned must be discussed with head staff before the camp starts. And can be accommodating. Extra love and sympathy can solve many issues. Sad that you didn’t understand it years later

Directors' fault
June 18, 2021 11:26 am

1st of all your taking your rage out at a head counselor in his early 20s? Be upset at the directors, for having the system in such a way that its 23year olds.
2nd of all as someone who’s been to camp as a camper and staff, you are stressing a lot the head counselor, the way if guy work he is that there good cop and bad cop, (counselors\learning teachers & head counselors), its not like all the staff are all screaming on day 1.

June 18, 2021 11:39 am

I have an idea, why dont kids just behave and then they won’t get yelled at.

They are kids - make them busy
Reply to  Behave
June 20, 2021 1:03 am

They are kids it’s their nature to be noisy & active. Use their energy for a good stuff and make them busy & happy and they will pay you back with good attitude

Thank you to all camp staff
June 18, 2021 11:47 am

What you do is amazing. Please treat our children with respect and do not humiliate them. We will work to instill in them to respect you and we daven that they do so. For those children that it is truly a challenge, we daven and work with the camp to get them more individualized support system. Thank you for all those dedicated girls and bochurim and all staff members for giving so much to our children so that they have a safe and happy and inspiring summer. For many, positive summer will add chayus like nothing else can. Staff please… Read more »

I disagree
June 18, 2021 12:14 pm

I read most of this and feel the need to interject. I was once working at a day camp for the first time.. I will not write where because its likely that the campers are now grown and reading this as well. Before camp, I was told that there are two campers who are very difficult and always get sent to the office. If I feel the need to, its fine. This is not something I believe in at all. Not listening does not mean they dont want to behave. They jst need their needs to be met. I remember… Read more »

June 18, 2021 12:42 pm


Former head counselor
June 18, 2021 12:55 pm

I was a head counselor a few years ago in a lubavitch camp. By our first meeting with the director, we were told to scare the kids into behaving on the first day of camp, “send a kid out, scream, do whatever it takes to show them who’s in charge here.”
As a side note, this was a girls camp.

Head counselors DO Bellow and Scream
June 18, 2021 1:00 pm

When I was a young kid in a very well-known chabad camp in NY, the Head Counselors would scream ALL the time, I am not exaggerating.

Once during bedside inspection, the head counselor began to yell at a 9 year old boy in his face why his bed had some sand on it. “WHY DOES YOUR BED FEEL LIKE A SANDBOX?!” the kid began to cry.

Things like this happened all the time throughout the summer. Kids don’t forget these things.

It's like "defund the police"
June 18, 2021 1:24 pm

Pretty much all those who back, or, are a part of, the “defund the police” movement, will not hesitate for a second to call the cops when they feel threatened. If they really believed cops were terrible violent people, why would they call them for help???? Gotta ask yourself… It’s absolute hypocrisy. There are some individual cops that should not be on the force, some cops that need specific training, and all cops ( and all people in general) will benefit from learning more how to deal with both resolve and sensitivity. Same with camp staff. Some should best look… Read more »

Middle ground.
June 18, 2021 1:34 pm

. I think we can all agree that the old ways whenever correct to begin with. At the same time Camp is not like school. Children come back to school year to year. They have the same principle and same teachers so there is a impression an expectation already ready and planted in the minds of the child. In Camp however the child is not necessarily go to the king same camp every year. Even if he does the staff are different from you to year. So as a result him does not have that same impression upon the child… Read more »

June 18, 2021 2:49 pm

This letter from the Mechanach/Experienced Head Counselor should NOT be a response to the parents article on humiliating a camper in order to gain authority. The parent presented an awareness. Plain and simple. Camps should take the constructive criticism to be more mindful that camp staff does not Ch”v to damage to a camper. The letter writer above repeatedly says the parent is correct that no one should ever humiliate a child. So why the whole letter as a rebuttal response?? I hope we are all on the same team – to raise and teach our precious kiddos to follow… Read more »

Yesh puka
June 18, 2021 2:59 pm

Finally someone writes back!! parents have to realize that there kids aren’t angels
And staff should get classes on how to educate we are teens what do u expect that we should be professionals??? Don’t blame the staff blame the directors and yourselves!!

June 18, 2021 3:11 pm

I was that child 20+ years ago, and I still remember the 21 year-old (at the time) learning director making an example of me the first day of camp in front of hundreds of people. He grabbed me by the front of my t-shirt (under the chin) and led me out of the room. It goes without saying that I was terrified of him, had an awful summer, and am still disgusted when I come across his name. He’s a respected professional nowadays, as am I, but his behavior at the time was crude and unacceptable, and I still cringe… Read more »

June 18, 2021 3:27 pm

That bachurim should not be going to Camp thinking about money in the first place , this is a clear shluchus from the Rebbe . If money will effect your behavior to the campers you don’t belong in camp

Staff member and camper in lots of camps
June 18, 2021 4:01 pm

From what I’ve seen, the camper that’s getting singled out usually loves the attention. I’ve never seen a camper getting singled out in front of the whole camp who was shy and didn’t enjoy it.

Practical suggestions from a mechanech
June 19, 2021 11:58 pm

1. Speech should be targeted to your audience. As it was mentioned before the grade 4 and grade 6 campers need to be spoken to differently. So smaller groups is an idea. As well, this will make it easier to control. 2. Maybe make a video out of your first day orientation speech so it’s more fun, creative and less threatening. 3. Have you ever considered greeting the kids as they enter the room by asking them for their names and welcoming them to camp? 4. Perhaps consider saying something like “we are here to give you a blast of… Read more »

Ask kids to leave feedbacks anonymously
June 20, 2021 1:11 am

Kids are capable to give feedbacks and explain why they love one counselor over the other and what can be improved.

Mostly kids love the one that listens to their needs and can redirect them if there is a need to do so.
Show kids some love and lots of respect and you will get it back as a boomerang 🪃 .

Counselor’s Back
June 21, 2021 4:38 pm

Another aspect is that, similar to directors, the head counselors’ job is not to love each camper individually. While they should respect each camper as a human being, it is the counselors’s job to love each of their campers. The rest of camp staff, including head staff, directors and head counselors, have the job of supporting the counselors by creating a fun, safe, functional and organized environment. The counselors need to know that camp staff have their backs in every way and for everything that they need, including support with discipline. The head counselors need to command respect and discipline… Read more »

As a head counselor
June 22, 2021 8:57 pm

Why can’t the regular counselors deal with these troublemakers? In my camp, if a kid is making trouble during announcements, his counselor takes them aside without the head counselor or director getting involved. The counselor doesn’t yell or threaten the camper, especially not on the first day. Kids can be managed by their counselors much more effectively than a single figurehead like a director. The original scenario seems like a case of lazy staff members who let the troublemakers remain until the head counselor has to deal with them.

the truth as usual is somewhere in the middle
June 23, 2021 11:01 pm

after reading all the comments ,i would like ti say that the truth is somewhere in the middle. Humiliating anyone-including a counsellor is uncalled for . The bochrim who work hard in overnight camps should get a bit more hakoras Hatov then some of the writers are giving them. I am curious to know how many parent actually spend time explaining to their children the importance of Kabbolas Ol before goig to camp. The Rebbe thought the inyan of Kabbolas Ol was important enoigh to start Tzivos Hashem. If some of the people writing would be more honest ,I think… Read more »