In the summers of 2011 and 2012, I served for a few weeks at B’nai B’rith Youth Organization’s International Leadership Training Conference (BBYO ILTC) as one of two Judaic Educators. While I had worked as a madrich for a few summers during college at BBYO summer programs at B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp (BBPC), where ILTC (amongst other programs) was taking place (for more on my time at BBPC, see here), I had not had in mind to return. So, when a friend’s Facebook status update popped up that BBYO was looking for Jewish educators a few years ago, I decided to re-connect with my BBYO roots.
That first summer, the focus of our teaching was Jewish Heroes (the topic (but not the curriculum) was given to us), which was interesting to do something to help broaden the Jewish knowledge of these Jewish youths that was a bit atypical of Jewish educational offerings elsewhere. The second summer, the other Judaic Educator and I coordinated with another BBYO staff member to create the curriculum and core pieces to it, which was pretty neat, especially as we had all known each other previously (they had both been program participants when I was staffing in college). Two primary pieces I taught in the summer of 2012 were Israel and philanthropy.
Inasmuch as I had gone to serve as a Judaic educator, which went nicely, there were other aspects which were great. The first was the ability to also share some of my wisdom/experience from my BBYO time (even just having been in BBYO as a teenager was somehow surprising to many of them), which was a primary reason for staffing whilst I was in college.
The second was connecting with other professionals there, such as the people working for BBYO year-round. Although, it was also great connecting with the occasional guest speaker was a nice treat, as well.
The third – and perhaps the most significant – was connecting with these young up-and-coming leaders. Now, when I went, I mainly meant to impart Jewish knowledge and BBYO wisdom to them to help them in their endeavors; however, I also realized that many (most? all?) of the participants had many things going for them, especially brains and talent. While that helps them ascend in leadership positions within BBYO, think about where they will go and what they will do years down the road (5 years, 10 years, 15 years, etc.) – there is a lot of potential and they will do great things. It’s not just a hypothetical proposition: I look around at peers who were in positions of leadership in BBYO as well as who attended BBYO summer leadership programs with me and I see the great things they are already doing. Imagine not only where my peers will be in another 10-15 years, but also where these participants will be. It was great to have connected with them at this level.
A fourth aspect which was great was also connecting with the madrichim, who were in college and working at BBPC for the whole summer. Similar to the high school participants, it was nice to meet these young adults and hopefully have a positive impact on them (while much different than than the high school participants).
I was certainly glad I was able to spend the time and energy connecting with all these folks in such a program and in such a setting 🙂