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Vacation Occupation

Sara Pardes

For some children, summer isn’t about camp or family vacations. It’s a time for hands-on experience as they work alongside their parents and siblings

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

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SUMMER HOMEWORK To avoid the “I’m bored” refrain, parents usually send their kids to camp or plan exciting trips. Some parents, however, take a different approach and bring their children to work with them — be it at a water park, a simchah hall, or a hotel

"M ommy, I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.” During the long weeks of summer, most of us hear statements like this all day, every day. To avoid the “I’m bored” refrain, parents usually send their kids to camp or plan exciting trips. Some parents, however, take a different approach and bring their children to work with them — be it at a water park, a simchah hall, or a hotel. Here’s a peek at several families who spend the summer together working side by side.

Hotel Hospitality

As owner and director of the Tour Plus tour company in Israel, Dafna Cohen spends her summer living and working out of hotels abroad. And when her kids were young, they would go along for the ride, too.

“Contrary to what you might think, there’s almost nothing to do in the summer at hotels,” says Dafna. “So before leaving home, we’d fill our suitcases with piles of books and games, plus summer workbooks from school.”

Since the Cohen children didn’t have their friends around, they made new ones with the kids who were on the tour groups. “One summer, my son made a friend from England and they played together for hours without exchanging a word,” remembers Dafna, who runs kosher tours throughout Europe and beyond.

As her children grew older, they became more involved in the family business. Sometimes they would join the day trips scheduled for those on the tour. “During the ride, my son would take over the job of collecting tip money for the driver or tour guide, and he’d advise passengers from experience whether it was worth going to one place over another,” she says.

Fridays were particularly stressful for Dafna. “I was incredibly busy organizing all the minute details of Shabbos, and if the kids didn’t want to go on the scheduled day trip, they’d get restless. I had to come up with tasks for them. My daughter would distribute tea lights to the guests, fold napkins, and decorate the dining room.”

Throughout their summer travels, the Cohen children were exposed to different cultures and languages. They also met a lot of people from across the chareidi spectrum. “All of this gave them a much broader perspective on life and on avodas Hashem,” says Dafna.

 

Her children learned a lot about giving, too: “Once, an elderly man joined our tour. He suffered from dementia and required a lot of assistance,” Dafna relays. “My son was enlisted to help. He escorted the man to activities and brought meals to his room. Initially, my son didn’t understand why this burden had fallen upon him, but when I explained to him that this was a zechus and a chesed, he gladly agreed.”

Her son, now a bochur, enjoyed his childhood summers so much that, one year, he joined the hotel staff of his own accord. “He was responsible for the orders, served as a waiter, and even slept in the room with the employees, who at times forgot that he’s my son,” says Dafna. “The work definitely gave him satisfaction, as well as a challenge and responsibility.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 554)

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