When Rivka Lichtman of Yerushalayim had to work through her kids’ summer break she was flummoxed — what would that mean for her sons?
“Finding the right camps for our kids was getting so complicated. Then my husband shocked me by offering to do something with our older boys.”
Rivka remembers being incredulous. “ ‘Are you actually volunteering to spend a summer entertaining your own children?!’ I said. It was completely out of character — he was not the type to be so hands-on with the kids — but that summer opened up a new world.”
At first Rivka and her husband thought it would make sense for him to entertain their two oldest boys plus some friends while she found another arrangement for the little ones. “But eventually we decided to stick with just our own — all of them. I planned tons of activities some of them around my work and some he could carry out when I wasn’t around and so Camp Lichtman was born.”
Rivka’s camp has now been running for six consecutive summers spanning the 21 days of her boys’ vacation. Her two oldest campers are now 15 and 13 while her younger bunch range between ages two and nine.
In Beitar Illit American Karen Thaler has been running her family’s camp for five years. “I have my teenage boys aged 14 to 19 a daughter of 11 and younger ones too. We used to travel to the States as a family in the summer but stopped ten years ago. Camp options are limited where we live and I wanted to create an enjoyable summer experience for everyone.”
Several teenaged boys of different temperaments on vacation under one roof sounds challenging… and noisy. Imagine several different opinions about music entertainment belongings and activities — not to mention what the little ones want. But these intrepid mothers say that their camp programs minimize arguing and prevent the kids from getting on each other’s nerves.
“To have everyone home together is challenging. Yet I wanted them to be happy being home together. I wanted to build family togetherness. When kids are bored they fight. But if you create a full schedule of fun activities with healthy teamwork and competition the kids enjoy each other ” says Karen.
A memorable summer casts its glow over the whole year. For the Lichtmans the anticipation and memories are almost as much fun as camp itself. “The kids talk about camp the whole year. After the summer is over we create a beautiful album which they show to whoever comes into the house ” says Rivka. “Making the album and looking at it lets us relive the memories.”