The only memory I have from summer camp is dragging chairs down some stairs at the age of 10 with another girl my age. Before joining camp we used to knock on our neighbors' doors, offering help in looking after their small children. We encouraged them to draw, and we read them stories. We didn't even think of asking for money.

Summer-holiday activities organized by girls for neighbors' children are still the most popular pastime in religious and ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

For my children, the world is open and the possibilities for summer activities are becoming ever more elaborate, as are the expenses. Summer camp has not only become synonymous with gimmicks and attractions, it has become the hub of everything trendy among children.

My daughter and her friends can choose this year among Survivor-style day camps that popped up like mushrooms after the Channel 10 program, or enroll in a modeling workshop for teenage girls.

Judging by the advertising brochure, at this age they are "filled with curiosity about the changes they are experiencing and the link between their developing inner personality and their external appearance." Fortunately they are already cynical enough to mock this pompous wording.

Nature lovers were invited to let loose their inner green. A former nature day camp, for example, has become "the circle of life." Computer and sports summer camps have been pushed aside by dozens of surfing courses offered on Tel Aviv's beaches.

Canine vacation

Dog lovers can stay at a dog pound on Kibbutz Afikim in the North for a week and learn how to train dogs. Preferably with their private mutt. Not a cheap endeavor, but not as expensive as the American summer school.

Tom Freudental and Neta Nahtomi of Tel Aviv, both 12, chose a fashion design camp, as they did last year. "I like designing clothes, but the fashion show is the most fun," says Nahtomi. "They taught us how to walk in an X, like models. They told us to change clothes in a jiffy."

"We're too old for sports day camp," says Freudental.

Yuval Nahmias, 7, of Ramat Hasharon chose the Florentin Circus camp in Hakfar Hayarok Youth Village.

"I studied hard, now I deserve a bit of a holiday, don't I? Sixty days - not so little after all. I'm looking forward to day camp. After three weeks maybe I'll go to another one," he says. "I think day camp is fun. The best thing is not having any homework. And nothing to do with a pencil. But I'd like one day off a week. Just to sit at home doing nothing. There is no way that I'll miss school."

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