C hana discreetly tried to stretch out her cramped feet. So far, it had been 45 minutes of rules. Sunscreen every day, meds only from the nurse… when would they get the itineraries? The redhead beside her was scribbling frantically in a notebook. Now they were up to the technology rules.

Chana closed her eyes, wondering how Shani’s orientation was going. Had she made a mistake by refusing to work in the same camp? She shook her head, hard. No, touring Europe would be fun, but with Shani always one-upping her, it wouldn’t be worth it. Anyhow, a cross-country trip would be amazing. She’d always dreamed of seeing the Grand Canyon.

Mrs. Konig droned on. Chana tried to rearrange her features into an expression of polite interest like the one a receptionist gives when you take her “how are you?” literally. But wait, was this the itinerary, at last?

She looked at the hot-pink pamphlet she’d received. “Be a Bnos Beis Shalva Star,” it read. “Get Recognized for Your Hard Work and Talent!”

“Girls.” Mrs. Konig’s voice was low. “There are many camps out there. The industry can be pretty cutthroat. It’s not pretty at the top. But Camp Bnos Beis Shalva can corner the market. You’ve been selected because you can help us reach the stars. As such, we accept nothing less than perfection. Every camper must be electrified, every curfew met, every mother thrilled enough to guilt her sister-in-law into signing up next year. Got it?”

Chana straightened.

“But we understand we can’t ask counselors to be available for girls all night after a full day’s work without some incentive,” Mrs. Konig continued. “We understand it’s unfair to ask you to be sports, arts, and drama counselors since our budget doesn’t allow for specialty staff, without promising you something extra. We’d never dream of asking you to OD every night without making it up to you… And that’s why, for the first time, Camp Bnos Beis Shalva is revealing its ‘Be a Shalva Star Program’!

“Our winning counselor, the one who pours her heart and soul, kishkes, and gallbladder into the program will receive a $5,000 bonus.”

Five thousand dollars? Wow. That would certainly help pay for her next semester, Chana thought. She would love to help ease those worried smiles her parents got whenever discussing her schooling. And think of the shoes she could buy! Chana sent Mrs. Konig a 500-watt smile.

Mrs. Konig motioned to her assistant. “Now for the itineraries.”

Finally! Chana snatched the papers from the girl’s hand and skimmed the paper. Her smile dimmed.

“But… but what about Bryce Canyon?” The redhead on her left frowned. “My brother told me every traveling camp goes there. And I thought we’d probably get in Disney, and for sure Yosemite.”

“Yeah!” A wiry girl in front spoke up. “We’re not even leaving the Tristate area? You said we were going cross-country!”

Mrs. Konig sighed the sigh of a woman forced to deal with others far less capable than she. “No, no, no. Not that country. You know… the country. Woodbourne, the Catskills, Liberty.”

“A traveling camp to see pizza stores? And Walmart?”

Mrs. Konig pursed her lips. “There are bowling alleys, too.” The wiry girl looked annoyed. “It’s the perfect solution for the low-budget parent with high-budget dreams. Now, as I was saying — girls! Girls!”

“The classifieds said cross-country! That’s not fair!”

“Yeah! Why wouldn’t you give more details, if you weren’t trying to trick us?”

“Word counts, ad sizes, they add up,” Mrs. Konig said briskly. “Now, as I was saying, we’re the traveling camp for every Bais Yaakov girl, remember? Teenage girl, father in kollel, mother a teacher. You want to abolish camp because it costs too much to get to Mount Rushmore? Where’s your chashivus haTorah?” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 549)