Now that summer is waning, and most of the mold has been washed from the clothes that we so carefully culled and labeled last June, let’s check out next summer’s options. This year Lizzie, 12, attended Sprout Creek Farm Camp in Poughkeepsie, New York. She learned how to milk a goat! How can we top that next year?
We can try. After a family weekend spent at Kutsher’s Country Club near Lake Kiamesha, I’m considering sending the little darling to Shtetl Sleepaway Camp. Set in one of those crumbly Catskill bungalow colonies where the surrounding chain-link fence sags and the crabgrass weeps for better times past, the campus recalls the squat muddy slums of Eastern Europe. During the day, the boys attend synagogue to pray multiple times and study the Talmud, and the girls perfect the lost art of baking challah while wearing long sleeves and maxi skirts. The only Dirty Dancing allowed is the hora – and boys can only dance with girls if there’s a hankie between them. Once a session, the local tony equestrian campers ride through, terrorizing the shtetl schleppers by wearing pink and green and reminding them that, despite Ralph Lauren’s real name, they Jewish kids still aren’t welcome at their polo club.
And, then, my Columbia MFA buddy Kira Sexton tops it all: “…went to a very similar camp in Northern California (near Big Ben/Saratoga). I kid you not. UAHC Camp Swig. It was through the Reform Movement. Each summer was divided into a different time period–the first year we fled Cossacks and Pogroms, and the second summer we established refugee camps in ‘Zion.’ I don’t know what we would have done if I had returned for a third summer!” Reenact the trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg?