The Jewish Observer "Tuition Dilemma" Issue has an interest transcript of a question and answer session conducted by Rabbi Shmuel Feurst, Rav of Agudath Israel of Chicago regarding tuition issues. Below I am reproducing the first question and answer regarding tuition vs. camp. Other questions to follow in upcoming posts.
My comments to follow.
Question -- Overnight camp can cost $2,000, $3,000, or even $4,000, and day camps can also cost $1,000-$2,000 if the child is enrolled for the entire summer. Can one apply for a scholarship from his child's school if he would be able to pay full tuition, were he not to send his children to sleepover or day camp?
Answer -- Today's culture can be very corrosive. A child goes to school for nine-ten months. If he does not attend a day camp or overnight camp in the summer, he can lose everything he gained in those ten months -- and even worse. To keep children on the derech HaTorah, one must keep them off the streets. One would then have a right to ask for a tuition reduction.
It is really hard to know where to start with this discussion, but I will presume that this "psak" is practiced vis a vis tuition since I know mothers who send their children to summer camp who are on scholarship (and not every mother is working during the summer).
So I will start by asking a question: Why should a Yeshiva have to cut their costs so children can go to camp? Why shouldn't it be the opposite? Why shouldn't camps have to compete for whatever dollars are left after tuition, rather than Yeshivot trying to take whatever is left after camp?
Of course, no one wants their children to be idle during the summer. We want our children to keep up with their learning, daven, read, and explore their interests and talents that might lay dormant during the school year. Some would argue camp is a necessity to prevent such. I would argue that a summer could be productive for a whole lot less.
There is a saying that "necessity is the mother of invention." We have spent time on this blog exploring inventive alternatives to the current day school situation from homeschooling (which deserves its own post) to virtual schooling, to Elliot Pasik's Two Building Solution.
I would say that the alternatives to summer camp are nearly endless (even when a parent is not home all day everyday during the summer), while the solutions to receiving a Jewish education are more limited, but not unlimited. I hate to argue with a person far greater than me, but it seems unfair to put more burden on the the schools and on the other parents by declaring essentially declaring summer camp (with emphasis on camp) a necessity.
Have at it.