Drugs lead to ouster from Camp Tel Yehudah

Drugs lead to ouster from Camp Tel Yehudah

Staff Writer, New Jersey Jewish News

A teenager at Camp Tel Yehudah was found in possession of LSD and sent home on July 17, according to a letter sent to parents and confirmed by camp director David Weinstein. 

The camp in Barryville, N.Y., billed as Young Judaea’s national teen leadership camp, serves teens entering ninth-12th grades. Because the teen involved is a minor, the camp declined to provide identifying details, including the camper’s age.

Weinstein told NJJN that the incident is “particularly shocking” because “we know of no other instance in our 70-year history that involved this type of substance at Tel Yehudah.”

The letter, dated July 17 and signed by Weinstein, states, in part, “A few campers reported hearing a conversation of another camper suggesting he was in possession of tablet-form acid and that he had shared it with others. We immediately investigated and indeed did find these tablets in the young man’s possession. Though we cannot know the precise content of the tablets, he told me that it was exactly what he was being accused of having. Of course he has been dismissed from camp immediately.”

The camp handbook states, “Tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs of any kind have no place at Camp Tel Yehudah because they are destructive to the community and the individual.” It says, “any camper who uses, possesses or distributes tobacco (including e-cigarettes), alcohol or illegal drugs, as determined by Camp Tel Yehudah in its sole discretion, will be sent home immediately.”

In the letter, Weinstein wrote, “I have never experienced something like this. I have had my share of campers who have broken rules and who I have had to send home early…. But this was different. Perhaps it is because of the seriousness of that particular drug or maybe it was the cavalier way in which the young man admitted to having it at camp.”

Despite being rattled by the incident, he praised the campers who reported the incident as “shining examples of young people taking [their] responsibility seriously.” 

In a statement provided to NJJN, camp administrators wrote, “The leadership at Tel Yehudah responded in a quick and concerted fashion immediately upon confirming that the camper both possessed and had ingested the drug during his time at camp. The camper was immediately removed from the community, is no longer in camp, and will not return.  

“Because we take this matter extremely seriously and are committed to doing what we can and must to avoid a similar situation in the future, the Director of Tel Yehudah also met with all of the campers from the individual’s age group to discuss the seriousness of this situation, re-affirm our values, and make clear that we will always seek to impose appropriate consequences in response to unacceptable behavior.”

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