Don’t Forget The Unsung Heroes of Camp

From the Inbox: A frustrated staff member at a Chabad overnight camp writes that he feels that one of the most important aspects of camp are being overlooked.

By A Frustrated Staff Member

Every summer, hundreds of Chabad children flock to various camps across the country, where they enjoy a range of activities, from sports and crafts to trips and shows. But the most important part of camp, the one that makes it a truly Chsidisheh experience, is the learning program.

The learning program is where campers get to study Torah, Chassidus, and Halacha, and deepen their connection to Hashem and the Rebbe. It is where they learn about their heritage, their mission, and their role in the world.

The learning program is also where the learning teachers come in. The learning teachers are the dedicated bochurim who devote their summers to teaching campers of all ages and backgrounds. They are the ones who prepare engaging lessons, answer questions, inspire curiosity, challenge assumptions, spark discussions, share stories, give feedback, offer guidance, and show care.

But sadly, the learning teachers are also the ones who get the least recognition and appreciation. They are often overshadowed by the counselors, who get all the credit for being fun, cool, and popular. They are often overlooked by the camp directors, who focus more on the logistics and finances of camp. They are often ignored by the parents, who don’t know or care about what their children learn in camp.

This is not fair. This is not right. This is not how it should be.

The learning teachers deserve more respect and gratitude. They deserve more support and resources. They deserve more recognition and appreciation.

They deserve to be celebrated as the unsung heroes of camp.

So next time you see a learning teacher, thank them for their hard work and dedication. Next time you think about camp, appreciate them for their contribution and influence.

And next time you write about camp, don’t forget to mention them as well.

P.S. And if you really want to show your appreciation for the learning teachers, don’t hesitate to tip them generously at the end of the summer. They work hard for little pay, and they could use some extra cash to cover their expenses or treat themselves to something nice. Tipping them is not only a nice gesture, but also a way of supporting their continued service to our community.

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  1. Dear Frustrated Staff Member,
    You bring up many valid points and have legitimate complaints. But let me paint a scenario for you, lets say a child ch”v has a medical emergency in middle of the night, he’s throwing up, can’t sleep etc. and what if he ch”v he needs to go to the hospital, who’s getting up in middle of the night to care for him?! who’s going to change his linen so he can go back to sleep?! who’s gonna wait with him in the ER for 6 hours?!
    My point being, that although the role of the Learning Teacher is incredibly important and extremely beneficial to the Ruchnius’dike growth of the campers, ultimately the counselors are the ones that are responsible for the camper 24 hr a day
    (ironically including during learning class)!
    Not to downplay the credit the LDs deserve or the impact they have, but if you would notice a disparity between the recognition they get to that of the counselors – most probably it is due to the aforementioned responsibility the counselors carry.

    1. This comment had the vibe of chelm.
      Is our sense of respect so limited??
      Do we really need an unusual circumstance to describe the value of a counselor over a learning teacher?
      BOTH positions deserve our respect.

      Every bochur (and the girls in the girls camps) who invests their time and energy towards giving our kids a healthy summer deserves our undiluted respect and limitless appreciation!

      They could be doing so many other things, but instead they’re shvitizng for our kids. For the Rebbe’s kids.

      We can never thank them enough. The counselors for their part, the learning teachers for theirs, and every other person who is involved.

      Thank you, learning teacher for everything you do! You wrote this article because you felt undervalued, but the truth is that most parents value your investment more than words could ever say. Be proud!

  2. The learning happens in an environment and context which makes it least likely for the children to succeed. Learning outside makes it impossible for the children to concentrate. There are distractions everywhere birds, the dirt, under their feet, boys from other classes miss behaving, etc. There’s no reason why that part of camp can’t be taken seriously and happen in a proper classroom.

  3. That’s a bit of an overstated term. A hero is someone who does something truly out of the ordinary, maybe even risking their life.

    Teaching kids in camp is important, but it is not heroic. (Neither is being a counselor, or quite frankly any staff member in a typical cgi camp).

    Do learning teachers deserve recognition? Absolutely! Do they work as hard as counselors? Nope.

    1. Where you ever a Learning teacher? Do you know how hard it is, what they go through? Both counselors and LT have a hard and important job, the councelors its tirering but spread out throughout the day/ night on the other hand the LT it’s a lot more hard but put into 3 hours… and a counselor usually feels like they have a kesher which LT don’t have….

      1. We’re YOU ever a learning teacher? Contrary to popular belief a learning teachers job is not only 3 hours a day that’s just class your actually devoting your entire summer to be in camp and with the kids and you have usually other responsibilities that you are taking care of in addition to being refs for sports and you’re around the clock helping the kids be it emotionally be it spiritually they turn to you and ask for help and you go over to them and talk to them farbreng with them (help them get out of trauma from a ignorant counsler occasionally which do things some times the kids should never see) then there’s shabbos with the kids by meals by the whole afternoon and in general helping the kids
        This is besides the fact that counselors aren’t actually 24 hours you have a co so that makes it in half and you have the time you sleep and hang out in the staff lounge then you have learning class so facts are you don’t do that much more
        But the ikur is that people shouldn’t be fighting and your both here on the same mission with the same mishaleach so stop the controversy and farbreng together help each other out and realize your both here to bring moshiach and do the Rebbes ratzon!

        Ps if camp was about making money you could’ve made much more elsewhere so clearly your here for the kavanah so enjoy and help each other enjoy

        1. It may be that LT should and are meant to be refs…. fact is they’re not and the few that are doesn’t change the fact that that’s not really part of the job…
          As you said the best way is when all staff work together there’s times when it really becomes messy cuz there wasn’t coordination and farbrengen every week to touch base why bichlal being staff…

    2. Learning teachers work harder. Counselors don’t need to get kids sitting down even when there is no incentive for them. They don’t need to get them quiet the same way learning teachers do.

      1. Bedside cleanup Tefilos lineup וכו’…..It may be easier as the kids usually have a closer and better relationship with councelors as the kids see what they’re doing for them (Meals health….) so it is easier but councelors also need to get the campers sitting quite and even more then LT… LT have those few times just much harder as a lot of kids want to move around not spend time on a bench if they’re not leaning….

  4. Song composed by Rabbi Akiva Wagner A’H This is when he was a learning teacher in Detroit. He was sitting in the laundromat contemplating the difficulties of having a hashpaah on the campers and composed this song.

    T.T.T.O The Search JEP

    Sitting by the table, under the trees
    Bothered by spiders, mosquitoes and bees
    The learning teacher standing there, trying to teach
    Searching for a way, his children to reach

    I know how you want to learn, to do what is right
    But you find it so difficult to put up the fight
    So many distractions are constantly there
    So hard to overcome, it’s really not fair

    But the things that come difficult, are so much more dear
    And to help you out in this fight, is why we are here
    Working together, hand in hand
    True soldiers, awaiting the Rebbe’s command

    If only I knew, how to come across to you
    How much we would accomplish, how much we could do
    I spend so much time with you on my mind
    Your path to Hatzlachah I’m trying to find

    If you’d only realize, we’re not working on opposite ends
    Your counselors and your learning teachers are your best friends
    Our summers we’re devoting, to help you excel
    I only beg of you, to help us as well

    Together, we both can reach the greatest heights
    Together, we can’t be stopped by the most difficult fights
    And we can be sure, that in a very short while
    Together, we will succeed to make the Rebbe smile

  5. Learning teachers are only praiseworthy if they spend all the other hours of the day working for the campers as well – special projects, helping counselors with campers, etc.

    Otherwise, they only work 3 hours a day, then relax the rest of the day.

    Those who do spend all day working are truly great and deserve great appreciation.

  6. what are you bichlal saying aderabah you are just looking for kavod you are just sapoused to do it for the kavanah and the צאן , really you are supposed to be overlooked and be totally batull to the rebbe.

  7. Many staff in camp come to me for tips advice and things to keep in mind for the summer, so i know a little about this subject.
    The person who wrote this obviously made a not supervised decision about where to spend his summer.
    All camps that i have dealt with, this problem does not exist and on the contrary, the learning teachers – Shevet Levi – have deep respect in the children and staff eyes.
    In addition parents do indeed tip the learning teachers, and i happen to know some learning teachers that received more tips than counselors.
    If you are wondering a specific camp that does very well in this area i would suggest Camp Gan Yisroel – Detroit.
    I wish much Hatzlacha to all staff and especially Learning teachers of all camps.

    1. Very true I would suggest even for so called non-Detroiters to go to Detroit as a staff members I personally am with the Detroiters and it’s a great summer!

  8. i was a counselor for one month and LT for the second, and after experiencing both i could say that as much as its true that counselors work more hours and have the difficulties of taking care of little children’s physical needs, they have an easier time in 2 big aspects:

    1) if a counselor comes late or even completely doesn’t show up to Revilee, davenings and meals etc. (which comprise the big part of their job and responsibility) nothing disastrous will happen and i could say from experience that almost every counselor takes advantage of this (even though the kids do lose out a lot from this)
    2) a counselor’s job includes a lot of self-expression and just having fun with the kids which is enjoyable and you have the geshmak of being liked by the kids
    on the other hand LTs don’t have either of these (as much) which makes their job all the more difficult (as was brought by some of the earlier comments) and not ego-boosting
    a dedicated counselor really is hard-working and without a lot of time to himself but dedicated LTs end up spending a lot of time out of learning class as well with the kids

  9. I don’t know what / where is the proper forum for the following… But because a bunch of the people involved are here, I’ll just leave it here:

    Witnessing the incredible organization of gashmiyus and ruchniyus for the bochrim this past Shabbos by the Ohel was something very special.

    To see how all the details were so thought through.

    For all those who like to talk a lot…. “it’s a disaster that this happened, that happened”
    “It’s ridiculous that there isn’t
    ….. It’s crazy that there isn’t…..”
    to see a few bochrim actually roll up their sleeves and take responsibility and do – very very special!

    Yasher koach
    @⁨Meir Deren⁩ @⁨Schneur Deren⁩ @⁨Mendel Goldman FL⁩ and the rest involved.

    Yasher koach Tzvi Altein for taking the ultimate lead and responsibility.

    Mechayil el choyil until very soon in Yerushalayim habenuyah

  10. This is also a community wide issue. Our teachers get less respect that hatzalah members…
    Why wait for a crisis, c”v? Why not recognize that these people are preventing so many crisis from to begin with?

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