Blog  First-Time Camper Dilemma: Cabins or Tents?

First-Time Camper Dilemma: Cabins or Tents?

One of the questions we get asked most frequently by first-time camper parents, is “What’s the difference between Kallah and Tzofim?”  Campers entering 4th grade or older have a choice – Kallah (or Gesher for campers entering 6th or 7th grades) or Tzofim.  So, what’s the difference?

Kallah is located in the main part of camp we call “upstairs” and Tzofim is located down the road in a part of camp we call “downstairs.”

While there are some differences in the program (think High Sock Thursday in Tzofim or Face Paint Friday in Kallah), the major difference is the living conditions – cabins in Kallah or tents in Tzofim.

We call the tents “soft cabins,” and in some ways that’s what they are.  They’re big, housing 12 campers and 3 counselors, they have bunk beds and cubbies to store your things.  The floors are cement, not dirt.  Sounds like a cabin, right?  But there’s no electricity (forget the hair dryer and bring an extra flashlight) and you can roll up the walls (tent flaps) during the day.

The Kallah cabins consist of two buildings, each with three wings.  Each wing is a cabin, with bunk beds for about 14 campers and 3 counselors, and cubbies.

So, what else is different about the living conditions? … the bathrooms.  In Kallah, there’s a bathroom in each building.  When in Tzofim, campers use porta-potties or “metros” and sinks to wash up.  Every day, all campers in all units take showers in a washhouse upstairs after swimming.

The final big difference is in the location of meals. Kallah campers eat in an air-conditioned dining hall.  Tzofim campers eat outside on picnic tables and in a shelter in the event of rain.  They come upstairs to join the rest of camp in the dining hall for Shabbat dinner and Shabbat lunch.  Otherwise they eat their meals out in the fresh air.

So … once your camper learns about tents, and porta-potties and picnic tables and says, “Yep, that’s for me,” what else should you consider?

The program in Kallah and Tzofim is very similar … both units have sports, swimming, electives (we call them chugim), evening program, cabin/tent time, and Hebrew and limud (Jewish learning) every day.  And campers take responsibility for various activities during the day – creating evening t’filot (services) or helping to set up meals.  But Tzofim campers have some extra responsibilities.

The full name of Tzofim is Kibbutz HaTzofim – Kibbutz of the scouts.  And the unit is run like a kibbutz, with everyone having responsibilities every day – cleaning up around the unit and taking care of the garden and the refet (farm).  It’s not a real farm, but there are chickens and goats and the occasional cow, and campers are responsible for feeding and caring for them.  And there’s a garden!  Campers weed and water and by Tzofim Gimmel, there are vegetables to be picked.

And while there is no scheduled free time during the day in either unit, Tzofim is a little less structured than Kallah.  So even if your camper is ready to try tent living, if he or she really does better in a more structured environment, Kallah might be the best choice.

So those are the basic similarities and differences.  Have more questions?  Contact us!

Note:  The living conditions in Gesher are similar to Kallah, however the cabins are separate structures and the washhouse is right outside the cabin area.