the schmooze


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

The camp "sezon" (season) has begun. "Der kinder" (The Children) are off to Camp Ramah, Camp Lenox, Kutz Camp, Surprise Lake Camp (Eddie Cantor's camp, which has been in operation more than 100 years), Camp Eisner, or Camp Pocono Trails, a weight loss camp in Reeders, PA.

Bob Ditter ("Early Summer Letter to Parents: Camp -Fun, Friendship and Taking Time to Grow," 2005) wrote, "We don't get tomatoes tomorrow from seeds we plant today. Children are no different. Children may behave very differently at camp from anywhere else."

Thousands of parents receive letters from camp. One reads, "If you take me home, I'll give you all of my money for the bank and other stuff. Just take me home." He survived and later wrote, "I wasn't homesick for even one second." (FYI: The Yiddish word for homesick is "farbenkt.")

We'd all love to receive a short letter that says,

"Dear tate-mame"
I'm having too much fun to write!"

Mom and Dad must learn to read between the lines as they study their much-too-brief letters. Someone said that camp letters are like an Egyptologist studying some precious manuscript found in a pyramid. One must learn/discover, for example, that there is a world of difference between "fine," "good," and "great." (In Yiddish, we say "fayn," "gut," and "mecheiyeh.")

I recently had the pleasure of reading, "Humor for a mom's heart," stories, quips, and quotes to Lift the Heart." (Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. 2002)

Richard W. Bimler and Robert D. Bimler wrote a piece titled, "Letter from Camp." The piece is just "vunderlekh" (wonderful), and I highly recommend the book.

Dear Mom and Dad,
We are having a great time here at Lake Typhoid. Scoutmaster Webb is making us all write to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and worried. We are okay. Only one of our tents and two sleeping bags got washed away. Luckily, none of us got drowned because we were all up on the mountain looking for Chad when it happened. Oh yes, please call Chad's mother and tell her he is okay. He can't write because of the cast. We never would have found him in the dark if it hadn't been for the lightning. Scoutmaster Webb got mad at Chad for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Chad said he did tell him, but it was during the fire so he probably didn't hear him. Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas can will blow up? The wet wood still didn't burn, but one of our tents did. Also some of our clothes. John is going to look weird until his hair grows back. We will be home on Saturday if Scoutmaster Webb gets the car fixed. It wasn't his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked okay when we left. Scoutmaster Webb said that with a car that old, you have to expect something to break down; that's probably why he can't get insurance on it. We think it's a neat car. He doesn't care if we get it dirty, and if it's hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the tailgate. It gets pretty hot with ten people in a car. He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the highway patrolman stopped and talked to us. Scoutmaster Webb is a neat guy. Don't worry. He's a good driver.

He is teaching Terry how to drive. But he only lets me drive on the mountain roads where there isn't any traffic. All we ever see up there are logging trucks. This morning all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out in the lake. Scoutmaster Webb wouldn't let me because I can't swim and Chad was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so he let us take the canoe across the lake. It was great. You can see the trees under the water from the flood. Scoutmaster Webb isn't crabby like some scoutmasters. He didn't even get mad about the life jackets. He has to spend a lot of time working on the car so we are trying not to cause him any trouble. Guess what? We have all passed our first-aid merit badges. When Dave dove in the lake and cut this arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works. Also Wade and I threw up. Scoutmaster Webb said it probably was just food poisoning from the leftover chicken. I have to go now. We are going into town to mail our letters and buy bullets. Don't worry about anything. We are fine.

P.S. How long has it been since I had a tetanus shot?
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe worked at Camp Leonard-Leonore during the summer of 1959. She was a camp counselor for "pitselech" (little ones), and her husband, Howard, was a group leader for "tsenerling/yunger-mentsh" (teenagers).


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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