How to spend the summer
With the onset of summer I started thinking about summers past that I spent in the Morasha Kollel (both high school and college). I believe that the Kollel is a great example for MO and shows the heights that MO can reach in Limud Hatorah.
For those aren't familiar with it I will describe the schedule, the atmosphere etc. Many of the younger Rabbeim at YU and other MO institutions were there in the 80's with me such as (this is a very partial list off the top of my head), R' Greenwald, R' Simon, R' Sobolofsky, R' Sheinfeld, R' Hochberg, R' Haber, R' Hirsch, R' Tarragin, etc.
The schedule was as follows:
7:30 - Shacharis
8:15 - 9:00 - Breakfast
9:00 - 12:30 - preparation for shiur (R' Willig learned halacha l'maase topics when I was there, and not necessarily Orach Chaim)
12:30 - 1:30 - Shiur
1:30 - 1:45 - Mincha
1:45 - 2:15 - Lunch
2:15 - 5:00 - free time, most people played ball (basketball, softball, tennis, swimming), some days R' Willig would play with us
5:00 - 6:30 - Bekius seder
6:30 - 7:30 - Dinner
7:30 - 8:30 - Chavrusa with a HS guy
8:30 - 10:00 - Night Seder
10:00 - 10:15 - Maariv
after night seder you were officially free, most people kept learning, I personally had a seder until 12:30.
The HS Kollel (R' Cohen) has a similar schedule.
If you add up the hours of learning it comes to about 11 hours a day. The atmosphere was amazing, you had older guys who you could talk to, the Rebbeim were there with their families and of course you could play ball for 2.5 hours a day. All the guys who went there truly grew tremendously in both learning and ruchniyos. It was an opportunity for 2 months to sit and learn with nothing else to bother you (no tests, hw, papers, etc.).
When you compare the experience to a regular MO camp, the difference is startling. In a regular MO the learning is a joke, many people regress spiritually. And yet, if you look at the numbers, about 50 people a year went to the kollel and thousands went to regular camps.
I am not advocating the schedule for everyone, it is definately a tough schedule, but it pushes the guys to greater heights. The problem is that there is nothing in between, it is either 11 hours a day or 1 hour a day.
There is another problem. many people in college have no time to just sit and learn for a summer. They have the following issues:
1. Financial - it cost money, while to be a counselor at a camp you make money
2. School - many people go to summer school to finish college faster
3. Job/Graduate school pressures - many people feel that they need to work in their field in order to get a job after they graduate or get into graduate school.
While these may be important, these summers are many people's last chance to sit and learn full time and I think that the community needs to encourage this much more.
The existence of such a program is a good thing for MO and shows that at least a small part of the MO world is machshiv torah, on the other hand we can look it as the exception that proves the rule that the majority of MO isn't machshiv torah enough.