How Summer Camp Inspired Me to Rebuild My Chapter

November 30, 2023
Jenna Barr

Longmeadow, Massachusetts, United States

Class of 2026

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It was a hot summer day going into 8th grade at the overnight camp I had been going to since 2018. I remember swimming in the lake with all my friends, laughing, talking to lifeguards, and jumping off the water trampoline. Mira Goldstein, who was Regional N’siah of CVR at the time, and Dena Soloman, alumna of my chapter, who were lifeguarding us at the lake, were always speaking so highly of BBYO. So many older girls at camp were doing BBYO; it was so fun to hear their stories and see the super cute BBYO merch they wore around camp. I longed for the moment I could join BBYO with my camp friends and wear a smiley face BBYO hoodie.

I got home from camp that summer and immediately sat down with my mom to purchase my membership, and I even signed up for the regional kickoff that fall. I love being able to see my camp friends over the year, so being able to see all of them in one place with other Jewish teens sounded amazing. It was at Quassy Amusement Park that year, and I was honestly quite nervous. I had no idea what to expect, being in an amusement park with several random teenagers I had never met. Would they even talk to me? After meeting a few girls, I mostly stuck with my camp friends because that's who I felt most comfortable with. It seemed like a lively, comfortable, and welcoming experience, but I was still a bit hesitant to keep going to BBYO events.  

Although there was a strong chapter in my town, L’Chayim BBYO #5393, prior to COVID-19, it slowly started to die down. I remember Dena telling me all the fun things they did as a chapter and explaining conventions to me. It seemed so fun, and to have that in my hometown sounded great. However, in my 8th grade year, they had planned a kickoff and Hanukkah meeting that I was unable to attend. I thought if I really wanted to be involved, I should join a chapter with frequent meetings and more active members. Even though it was 30 minutes away, I went to as many meetings as I could.  

I started to realize it was really hard on my family to make the drive every time I wanted to go to a meeting. By the start of my freshman year, all of L’Chayim’s board members had graduated. I kept thinking to myself over and over, what if I took on a leadership role? I wanted to become involved, just like everyone at camp was. I remember mentioning the idea to my camp friends, and they just told me to go for it. I had no idea where it would lead me, but I decided to take a bold leap of faith and reach out to our Senior Regional Director. He said he planned to try to revamp L’Chayim, and we even had an advisor at the time. Slowly but surely, we began to grow.  

As a freshman with little to no programming experience, I was able to pull off a few meetings. Even though they had very few people, I was able to text a few kids so we could come together and have fun.  After a beginning-of-year meeting at a trampoline park and a Hanukkah meeting, I was able to bring a few members and prospects to regional events, like CVR’s winter warm-up and Spring Convention.  

By Spring Convention 2023, My lanyard name tag was switched from Achva BBG #124 to L’Chayim BBYO #5393, and I am extremely proud of it. So far this year, I’ve been able to bring 2 members along with me to CVR’s leadership convention over the summer, and there are 5 of us attending the Fall Spirit Convention.  We had a successful chapter kick-off, had 9 people attend the regional kickoff, helped members and prospects become more familiar with BBYO with an MIT meeting, and hosted a bake sale, raising money for Magen David Adom, Israel’s Red Cross. For a chapter with around 10-15 active members, it’s not too shabby.  

Although we were unable to have elections in the spring due to the lack of members, I was proudly given the title of N’siah. Sometimes, It’s very hard to balance the many board positions, but my regional counterparts and regional staff are very helpful. I’m excited that L’Chayim BBYO #5393 continues to flourish and become a strong, active chapter.  

If you are in the same position as I was in 9th grade, don’t be hesitant. I had no idea where this journey would have taken me, but I’ve learned so much. Not only have I learned about BBYO, but I’ve learned a lot of life lessons. It’s a super rewarding experience to rebuild a chapter. Take the leap of faith, and just do it. You never know the endless possibilities. 

Jenna Barr is a BBG from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and she is on a competition dance team!

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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