Dr. Sharon Ufberg and her three children offer advice about family, love and life. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m writing for you to weigh in on an ongoing disagreement I have with my husband about where to send our kids to summer camp. It’s too late for this year, but I’d love to hear your opinions. I believe my kids should go to Jewish camp, but my husband thinks they should go wherever they pick. My feeling is that given the expense, it makes sense to send them somewhere they can connect with other Jewish kids and their Judaism, on top of having a fun camp experience. I’ve already lost the Hebrew school debate, so my kids really only get connected to their Jewishness on the holidays and with my parents. What do you think? M.S., San Francisco
Alexis: Your debate with your husband sounds as if it’s more about giving your kids a Jewish identity than a disagreement about camp. If instilling a sense of Jewishness in your kids is important to you — if giving them a sense of their place in the larger Jewish community matters to you — then Jewish camp is one of the best ways to do this. I can’t think of anything more magical than Havdallah underneath a starry sky, huddled arm in arm with new best friends, singing familiar prayers, feeling connected to something much larger than myself. Have a serious conversation with your husband about how important it is for you to send your kids to Jewish camp, having already acquiesced on Hebrew school. My feeling is that if you send your kids to Jewish camp one summer, you won’t even have to debate it the next — they’ll want to go back.
Jessica: I absolutely loved going to Jewish summer camp, so I am definitely in favor of sending your kids for some part of their summer break. The friendships I made over those summers are so special, and I feel so lucky to still have so many of those friends in my life today. There is something about the community Jewish camp provides for kids — it’s a sacred, special place. During the last summer I could go to camp as a camper, I went for both sessions — two whole months! That speaks for itself. I just loved it. I hope showing your husband my response allows him to see how much your kids could love Jewish camp.
Saul: In my personal experience, both you and your husband would get your way, because I went to several kinds of camps each summer. Fortunately, summer is long enough for that. I went to basketball camp for part of the summer (my request) and Jewish overnight camp for the other part (my parents’ choice). As an adult, I see the value of using some part of summer for Jewish camp time. Your husband should know that going to a Jewish camp includes plenty of sports and outdoor activities. My Jewish camp experience also made me very comfortable traveling to Israel with Birthright when I was 20 — this is another way for your kids to connect to their Jewish roots in the future.
Sharon: Clearly for my family, Jewish summer camp was an integral part of the kids’ Jewish life experience. It was as much a part of summertime as swim lessons or vacations to the beach. Perhaps because I cherished my memories of Jewish summer camp in the Poconos, it was a no-brainer that my children would also go to Jewish overnight camp and make their own memories. Seeing how comfortable camp makes kids feel about their identity as Jews and the pride in their cultural and religious heritage is an argument worth fighting for with your husband. You won’t regret it.
Dr. Sharon Ufberg is a Napa-based radio host, journalist, consultant and integrative health practitioner. Her daughters live in San Francisco: Lawyer-turned-writer Alexis Sclamberg, 28 and married; and hair colorist Jessica Sclamberg, 26 and single. Saul Sclamberg, 24 and single, studies chiropractic in Los Angeles. Read more at http://r-2-cents.com.