Basically, the situation is that expensive high schools who let students attend on scholarship are upset that the same students are going to expensive summer programs. If their parents or grandparents can't afford to pay for their high school experience, why can they pay for their summer experience? It's not fair to the high schools, is the thought.
The Bergen County Yeshiva Tuition blog put up a post with a letter from Ma'ayanot explaining this concept. The letter states:
- In addition, while we understand and appreciate the value of summer programs (including Israel programs), we believe that for students in grades 10-12 summer programs (including Israel programs) are discretionary, and not basic expenses. When taking these discretionary expenses (such as camp)into account when evaluating requests for scholarships, the scholarship committee does not look at who is ultimately paying for them, as we would expect that any financial assistance provided by grandparents or other family members should first contribute to a family's basic living expenses- such as tuition- before paying any discretionary expenses. Accordingly, if your child in grades 10-12 attends such a summer program, you may be jeopardizing some or all of your scholarship for next year.
Having spent this past summer as a member of Tzevet at Camp Stone, it's clear to me that many Modern Orthodox teenagers' Judaism comes in the majority, if not exclusively, due to their summer camp experiences. Students who were sleeping through their high school Jewish courses suddenly woke up and came alive at Camp Stone, becoming invested in and really feeling like members of the Jewish people. The same occurs on many NCSY programs- just check out what these participants on TJJ have to say.
On the one hand, why should schools have to fund tuition for students who are able to attend expensive summer programs? On the other hand, clearly the schools are not always successful in doing their job of turning kids on to Judaism, while these summer programs are.
What do you think? Where do you weigh in on this discussion? Are summer programs a luxury or not?