Thursday, July 11, 2013

It's The Summer... Which Means It's Time Again For The Biannual Visiting Day BellyAche

It's comforting to know that there are some events  that are so certain to occur that you can set your clock (or calendar) by them.  One of those events is the annual letters/complaints in the frum media about camp visiting day.  This one comes to us from Matzav.com.  A reader writes:

On the issue of visiting day in summer camps, for the most part, the men have been in favor of abolishing visiting day, while mothers and grandmothers are often up in arms over even suggesting something as horrible as not visiting their children. 
I am not going to take a side here. I will, however, share a shocking statement that someone made to me last Sunday, when I did not go to visit my children in sleep-away camp simply because it was too difficult for me to do so. The comment was, “Well, then, don’t be surprised when your kids go off the derech.” 

Huh? Dear Matzav readers, is this how far we have come? That my children will go off the derech because I did not shlep for three hours each way to visit them in camp? Have we lost our sanity?


Of course, his correspondent was being ridiculous.  Not visiting one's kids at camp on visiting day will not, in and of itself, send one's kids off the derech.  However, it does send a message to the child that s/he's not worth the shlep up for a few hours.

Personally, I find it difficult to understand how a parent can miss visiting day at camp.  Yes, granted, sometimes there are bona fide reasons for not going (medical emergency, must work, live an excessive distance away, etc.).  But to not go simply because you feel it is "too difficult" is, in my humble opinion, simply wrong.  It tells the kid that they are not important enough to bother yourself for a few hours.

My kids are older now, but when they were in camp, I made sure to make the shlep from the city to the country every visiting day.  Yes, there were times that I dreaded the trip itself, the traffic and the crowds, but I still went anyway.  It's important for kids to feel that they are wanted and appreciated.  Not going to visit on visiting day (again, absent some bona fide reason) just sends the message that they're not worth it -- even if that's not the message you're trying to spread.

And perhaps, the extra positive message that you send by visiting will help to keep them on the derech after all.

The Wolf

15 comments:

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Going to Visiting Day is like sitting on the ground for Tisha B'Av. It induces annoyance and soreness but you have to do it anyway.

tesyaa said...

Oh Lord. I skipped visiting day on numerous occasions, after making the trip several previous years. My kids who weren't at camp needed me not to be an exhausted dishrag. My kids at camp were old enough to understand why I didn't go.

If people send an 8-year old to camp, and that's their only child, YES they have no excuse for missing visiting day. Otherwise, spare the judgment.

tesyaa said...

A question: if visiting day had never been invented, would you visit your kids anyway? Or is it only important to show your kids that they're "appreciated" because other kids' parents are doing the same thing?

Look, parents who send their kids to camp for 8 weeks to get rid of them SHOULD visit, because the kids probably know they're being gotten rid of. But for kids who go to camp because they WANT to, I don't know why visiting day is necessary. The problem is that once visiting day exists, there's social pressure to go, whether your kid needs it or not.

Joe said...

One can show they care about their kids without making an expensive and time-wasting pilgrimage, right?

BrooklynWolf said...

Tesyaa,

Obviously, if your kids are older and will truly understand, then that's different. Every one has to know their kids and how they will take it (and not how they hope they'll take it).

A question: if visiting day had never been invented, would you visit your kids anyway? Or is it only important to show your kids that they're "appreciated" because other kids' parents are doing the same thing?

That's a very good question. I'm not sure I have the answer for that one. But the fact of the matter is that most kids *do* expect their parents to visit and would probably feel at least slighted, if not hurt, if they didn't.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

One can show they care about their kids without making an expensive and time-wasting pilgrimage, right?

Joe, I believe you're missing the point. No one doubts that parents do care about their kids. The question here is the kids' perception of that, not the reality.

The Wolf

Ksil said...

I was talking to a woman up in the mountains this past sunday who told me when she was a kid her parents showed up....but several hours late, for visiting day (every year) she was devatated at the time

Oh, and she is still frum....

tesyaa said...

ksil, my friend's mother forgot to pick her up from school (more than once) when she was a small child... just plain forgot, didn't make other arrangements, etc. Just forgot about her own daughter. My friend went on to go to Harvard and become a successful lawyer. AND she still talks to her mother. Only thing is, she is not frum today. Wait a second - she wasn't frum then either - she wasn't from a frum family and was never part of the frum community! :)

ksil said...

tesyaa, you have a friend that is not frum?!?!? that's rare to see... (unfortunately)

mlevin said...

When I was nine, my parents sent me to camp and told me that there was some sort of a conflict and they won't be able to visit me. I tried to be brave. But when everyone's parents came except for mine arrived, I was devastated and cried. I still remember the incident 36 years later. Oh, yeah, my parents were also too busy for my school events, and other similar things. I will never forget it, or forgive them for that.

I made a promise to never do something like that to my children, and made sure that either I or one of my representatives (ie grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) were there. No matter how insignificant that event was. I am proud to say that I kept that promise.

Chanie said...

When I was a child my father, a"h, made it up to the mountains every visiting day. He visited my camp and my brother's - which was a good distance away. He brought loads of goodies, including a huge slab of 7 layer cake. Did I mention that he didn't have a car and had to take a bus? That was back in the late 1960s when you had to go to Port Authority. Here we are some 40-50 years later and I remember what he did so clearly. He never complained about the schlep, he just couldn't imagine not seeing his kids for an entire 9 weeks. That's a parent.

Anonymous said...

My parents couldn't afford to send me to summer camp ,much less come on visitor's day.I am off the derech now.
Sincerely
Father Sean McDdonald

Goldie ZP said...

one must always keep in mind the delicate feelings of a child. When he sees his friend's parents visiting and his not - it saddens the child. No matter if the child would tell his parents "it's okay if you don't come, I understand" when he finds out they are not coming

tesyaa said...

If kids are so delicate that they can't understand that the parents may be needed at home for the younger children, and that the younger children can't handle the shlep, I'm sorry. Maybe those kids aren't mature enough to go to camp. A lot of kids would agree that they're not ready for camp, but their parents send them anyway to get them out of their hair. Those kids' parents are the ones who should visit.

If the parents and the kids have a strong relationship, and the kids are mature and having a great time at camp, they will understand if their loving parents can't make it.

According to the commenters here, skipping visiting day means effectively ruining one's children's childhood. That is ridiculous.

Chanie said...

Tesyaa, I don't believe a parent 'ruins' his/her child's life by not visiting but I do believe it shows how important the child is to the parent that s/he will even overcome obstacles to make that visit.

As I said in my earlier comment, I remember and cherish what my father did for us. He left a legacy of caring and support that taught us how to treat our children and judging from what we're seeing so far, the way our children are treating their children as well. Mind, my father was a Holocaust survivor and was not a demonstrative man at all. He was very strict and demanding. But he showed us how to be good people and good parents by example. And showing up every visiting day despite the difficulties was one example.

These are the things your children remember for the rest of their lives. Not necessarily that they were hurt that you didn't visit, but that they felt cherished because you did.