Camp and Summer Guidance

As summer sets in, there are many shailos that arise in connection to summer activities. We bring you here a compilation of common questions that rabbonim receive – with their responses.

The following halachic rulings were reviewed by the following rabbonim:

  • Rabbi Avrohom Osdoba – Crown Heights
  • Rabbi Yosef Yeshaya Braun – Crown Heights
  • Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Raskin – London
  • Rabbi Aharon Yaakov Schwei – Crown Heights
  • Rabbi Dovid Shochet – Toronto
  • Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Telsner – Melbourne

The halachos recorded apply to common cases; for more specific cases, please contact a Rav Moreh Horaah.

1. Until what age may a girl be a counselor over boys?

Boys from the age of 9 onwards should be supervised by male counselors only. If this proves to be difficult or contravenes the spirit of tznius in the camp, a Rav must be consulted.

Preferably, male counselors should be allocated even for boys ages 5-6 onwards.

In a situation where there is a female counselor, she needs to be careful with the halachos mentioned below.

2. Until what age is a girl allowed singing in front of boys/men?

From the age of 11, a girl may certainly not sing in front of men (or boys over 9).

Some Rabbonim are of the opinion that even girls from the age of 6 should avoid singing in front of men.

Some are careful even from age 3.

3. Is there any difference if – it is one girl alone or it is a group of girls- singing in front of a man?

While there is a minority view that makes a distinction between a single girl singing and a group of girls singing, the general consensus in halacha is that no difference exists if it’s one girl or a group singing in front of a man.

4. Can girls sing in front of a Jewish male driver (on bus-trips for example)?

Generally, in accordance with the principles outlined in question 2 and 3, this is obviously not allowed. However, in a situation where this proves to be difficult, consult a Rav.

5. Are girls allowed to sing in front of a male camp director \Rabbi?

Based on question 3, the general ruling is that girls may not sing in front of a male camp director. If the camp director enters while they’re singing, he should walk out or they should stop singing.

Regarding questions 3-5, a simple solution may be found in many instances where all girls present are under the age of a problem, and therefore- if the female counselor/adult were to stay quiet, or sing softly so they are not heard -there would not be a problem.

6. Can a girl do Davening with boys (ie. campers etc.)? Without a tune, a girl may daven with boys, if done modestly.

With a tune – the halacha is the same as singing (see question 2); she may do so only with boys under the age of 9.

7. Until which age is it permissible for a girl to have any physical contact with her male campers?

A girl should not touch any boy who is age 5-6 onwards in a friendly way;

If necessary or the boy is in need of help, a girl may touch a boy until boy is 9.

8. Is there a difference to the above halacha (#7) in case of special-needs children?

In a case of pikuach nefesh – different rules apply. However, with regard to special-needs children in general – the relevant halachos need to be discussed further in consultation with a Rav.

9. Until what age is mixed swimming allowed?

Halachically, it is absolutely forbidden to arrange for boys over 9 years old to swim with girls that are age 3 and up.

Even if the boys are under age 9, once they are over 5, they should not swim with girls over 3.

Moreover, it is highly appropriate that even extremely young boys and girls not swim together, therefore, parents are advised to take boys from 3 onwards to men only pools.

10. Is a girl/woman that is fully dressed permitted to swim with boys?

No, it is forbidden even if she is fully dressed.

11. May girls swim in a place where there are male lifeguards?

This is not acceptable. A Rav should be consulted in extenuating circumstances.

12. May boys swim in a place where there are female lifeguards?

No. In a case where it is necessary to have a female lifeguard, consult a Rav for practical guidance.

13. Are there halachic guidelines for girls in regards to swimwear?

A woman/girl can expose that which is necessary for swimming – in a reasonable fashion.

14. Under which conditions is it permitted for a boys’ and girls’ camp to run on the same premises, or in close proximity?

A Rav must be consulted (according to each individual situation).

15. Is there a difference in the above halachos for children that are not yet frum?

In regards to halacha, there is no differentiation made chas v’sholom, between those who are frum and those who are not yet frum.

16. Is one allowed to serve cholov akum or pas akum to people who are not careful with cholov/ pas akum (in camp for example)?

Cholov akum: Chas Vshalom, it is forbidden to serve others cholov akum even if they eat it when at home.

Pas Akum: It is highly inappropriate for a Chabad camp to serve others pas palter.

17. Is a girl / boy allowed visiting, babysitting, sleeping and so forth in a home where the hosts are not shomer shabbos, kashrus etc.?

Though not assur according to halacha, this is a very sensitive, complicated situation where there can be myriad issues involved in regards to halacha and general yiddishe hashkafa.

One should seek advice from a rov as well as from a seasoned mashpia to ensure that he or she will not be influenced negatively and also to determine whether this is indeed his / her shlichus and appropriate in this case.

Needless to say, one may not eat the food in the house, and must be careful not to violate shabbos and other issurim or cause others to violate chas v’sholom.

18. Is it permitted to lower kashrus standards (with regards to additional chumros practiced at home) when away in a place that doesn’t have the same standards one is accustomed to?

A Rav must be consulted (according to each individual situation).

19. May campers go to mixed arena such as roller/ice skating, bowling etc.?

Regarding the specific activities of roller skating or ice skating in a mixed arena, it is not acceptable to take campers to such a place.

Regarding other activities held in a mixed arena, such as bowling and the like– it is obvious that mosdos must always ensure that all activities should be held in the most tznius’dig and yiddishe environment possible.

20. May boys or girls go on a trip to a water park- if they are dressed appropriately? A theme park?

Boys are absolutely forbidden to go to a water park where there are women who are not dressed according to the rules of tznius.

Girls who are dressed appropriately should not go to a water park where there are men who are not dressed according to the rules of tznius.

Therefore, one should ensure that the water park is completely rented out. In a situation where the water park cannot be completely rented out, a Rav must be consulted

Regarding a theme park: while it is quite inappropriate for boys to go to a place where the women dress in a non tznius manner, and it is not recommended for girls to go to a place where there are non-tznius men, a decision needs to be made on a case by case basis.

21. May a girl who needs to go somewhere at night- for very pressing reasons- get a ride with a male camp staff member or another respected adult male? Likewise, may a boy get a ride with a female camp staff member, or other trustworthy adult female?

It is forbidden for women over bas mitzvah to be in a state of yichud (seclusion in private) with boys over 9. Likewise, a boy over bar mitzvah may not be in a state of yichud with a girl over 3.

Travelling in a car at night (especially in the later hours of the night) with a member of the other gender may be a serious violation of yichud.

According to halacha, if there are two or more women with one man it is still yichud. However, two or three men with one woman might not be considered yichud, depending on the situation.

There are a number of potential solutions depending on the situation. (The book “The Laws of Yichud” by Rabbi Dubov, is a comprehensive guide to the intricate details involved in many potential scenarios, including babysitting etc.)

One should consult with a Rov in each potential case of yichud for the appropriate solution.

To download a PDF with sources, please click here.

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  1. This would be a great idea for a similar article regarding Lubavitcher overbight boys camps. This seems to be geared generally more for girls chabad house type camps

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