When you look up Camp BBYO on bbyo.org, you notice that most of the attendees are going into ninth grade. This year I attended the second session of Camp BBYO as one of the oldest attendees, going into sophomore year of high school. Going into this program, I was a little hesitant. It scared me that I was going to be the oldest member there and I wouldn't connect with the girls as well. When I told people I was going to Camp BBYO, they seemed shocked to see that I was doing CLTC, too. The only thing I knew about this program was that it worked with CLTC and it's new.
Walking into the Newark Airport, my heart was racing because I didn't really know anyone going on this program. I was greeted by these girls that were all from my sibling region (SJR and NSR). We got food and talked about our lives. When I started talking to these girls, I found out another other girl was like me, going into tenth grade. We bonded over that shared connection. A couple hours later we found out we would be in the same cabin and ended up being bunk bed buddies. On the first full day we decided our creative corner, that's the arts you did. It could have been visual arts, dance, or wood shop. I chose visual arts. We sat around making bracelets, painting, and playing music. I thought to myself, “I am so excited about the program ahead!”
Later on was Shabbat. When we were taking pictures, these girls asked if I wanted to be in their pictures. They were all younger than me, so I was so happy. I sat with them on Shabbat and they all lived all over the country. It was so cool to me! From Denver, to Philadelphia, back to Denver, to the District of Columbia, to Connecticut, to Saint Louis, and there was me, a girl from a small little town in New Jersey. From meeting all these new people from around the country, I finally understood what the older members in BBYO meant by, “some of the best people you meet live so far away.” We all bonded that evening.
Shabbat is a time to reflect and plan for the next week ahead. We all did that and came together for the first time. I texted my mom and told her how much fun I was having because she wanted me to have friends in BBYO that are all different ages like I do at home. A proud moment of mine was when one girl came to me crying because she was having a panic attack. This changed my whole perspective on this program. As I calmed her down, she told me, “you calmed me down just like my mom would.” As the week went on, we confided in each other and I felt like a mom to these BBGs.
Taking girls under my wing if they were upset.
Listening to all of their problems and giving them advice.
On Thursday night we had separates. I was so excited to be officially inducted into BBG. Going into this separate, we knew it was going to be sad. Walking into the room, our coordinator set the tone by walking quietly. Some, being the first separate they have ever been to, didn't know what was going on. I felt empowered because I was helping start these BBGs on their BBYO paths. The separate was about legacy and the path we leave. Writing letters to yourself was an emotional rollercoaster. The letters talked about what we wanted to do to help us and to prepare for our legacy. This was a turning point for all the BBGs in the room; this program showed me and all the girls what BBG really means. Shoulders to cry on, friends everywhere, a bond of siblinghood, and memories that would last a lifetime. That’s what BBG means to me. Camp BBYO taught me so many lessons about myself and BBYO as a whole. Going on this program has given me some amazing opportunities and friendships that will last a lifetime.
Just as this program taught me so much about legacies, I am so thrilled that I got to help craft these future leaders' legacy just like an older BBG did for me. Teaching them lessons in BBYO that I have learned firsthand was a joy. This reminded me of myself one year ago. I'm so excited to see my BBYO career. One lesson I taught them was you're never too old for Camp BBYO.
Sophie Tiger is a BBG hailing from T'sahal BBYO #5321 of the Greater Jersey Hudson River Region #22 and her favorite food is pizza.
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.
Planning the first in-person convention in over a year can be stressful, but it is so rewarding and refreshing to feel a sense of normalcy once again.
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