T he whirring of an oversized fan did little to ease the heat in the cramped back office. The room was loaded with old suitcases, assorted sports equipment, and overflowing filing cabinets. At least once a day, Miriam Levinsky announced her intention to get back on track and clear up the files, as soon as she had the energy.

Chaim was sitting across from his father-in-law, discussing the schedule for the upcoming Visiting Day. Papers were spread out across the small table, schedules of Visiting Days past. The older man was upset that Chaim thought it was time to make some small adjustments.

“Visiting Day is like a Yom Tov at Neos Deshe,” Hershel Levinsky said, his face lighting up. “I always insist that all the counselors wear white shirts for that reason. They should look the parts. The parents love it too; it’s like a big happy family around here.”

A big happy family. Chaim tried to smile gamely.

“We have minhagim too,” Hershel said with delight. “We always have a big lunch. Mr. Labkin makes these delicious foods only once a summer — ich veiss, pasta and salads and these little pizzas. It’s like some kind of a fancy restaurant here. Everyone loves it.”

Chaim nodded. “Daddy, no one is trying to change it, we know what it means…”

But his father-in-law wasn’t finished. “You know about the alumni speech? Some camps have an alumni basketball game, can you imagine? We have an alumni speech, it’s meaningful, it’s choshuv. Every year, we invite one alumnus, someone prominent, you know, a big-shot” — he winked, as if this was scandalous — “to address the parents at lunch, to talk about what Neos Deshe did for him when he was a boy. This way it inspires the campers too.”

“It’s a highlight of the summer,” Hershel said, and folded his arms across his chest, his point made.

Indeed, Chaim thought. Yudi had told him how the Visiting Day speech would become the punch line for over-tired, post-curfew campers, and even the counselors would laugh along.

“Ta,” Yudi said, “Neos Deshe alumni are nice people, but they’re not really the type that anyone besides Zaidy sees as rock stars, you know?”

“I understand that. But what if people want to get out with their kids a little, go out for pizza, or back to the bungalow just to relax?”

Hershel Levinsky laid a hand on Chaim’s arm. “Chaim, listen, I know you’re new to this, but you should realize that this isn’t a wealthy camp, not by any means. The parents are happy to save money by eating here. And how many people do you think have bungalows here in the mountains?”

“Okay, so maybe we can do a little of both, have some kind of program here on site and give parents the option of going off grounds too? It’s nice to spend time with the children away from camp, don’t you think?”