01 July 2012

Five Reflections on ILTC 2012 Thus Far

As mentioned earlier, I am serving as one of two Judaic educators at BBYO's  54th annual International Leadership Training Conference (ILTC), taking place at the B'nai B'rith Perlman Camp (BBPC) in the Poconos.  I had some assorted thoughts and am going to share five of them with you:
A Shaharit service led by song leaders
1) It is interesting that in such a pluralistic Jewish setting where many of the participants and staff have neither such a knowledgeable connection to Judaism nor follow or care about many elements of Rabbinic/Talmudic-based Judaism, prayer is still something that is incorporated, especially the Shema, Amidah and others. I wonder if there are Jewish camps or groups that entirely re-formulate their interaction with prayer....
Having been at BBPC numerous times, am quite comfortable here
2) While walking with participants and staff from one activity to the next, I realized that I felt very comfortable here and, until that point, it hadn't even dawned on me to feel uncomfortable (I thought about how staff or participants who were here at BBPC for the first time might be feeling (my first summer staffing, there was a cabin staff that cried and eventually had to leave because she felt home-sick)).  I also realized that I have spent some time here at BBPC 8 of the last 15 summers, from the ages of 16-30; as well as serving as BBYO summer leadership program staff for 5 of the last 11 years, from the ages of 20-30.  So, I realized that it made sense that this was a place at which for me to feel comfortable.
3) Typically, the Judaic educators at ILTC are, I believe, usually not so familiar with BBYO. This year is quite different: Emily Hyatt, the other Judaic educator was tremendously involved in BBYO as a teen (including  being on International Board) as well as working for BBYO for a few years following her university time. And I've not only worked at BBYO summer leadership programs before, but was very involved as a teen (not to mention writing about BBYO, as well).  Having staff members at the BBYO summer programs are an asset not only to the program, itself, but specifically being able to help the participants connect to the staff.
4) The socio-economics of the ILTC participants compared to that of the students I generally engage with in Long Beach are quite different.  Many of the students at CSULB (and surrounding community colleges) are not only attending school, but also working to pay for their post-secondary education.  Moreover, many of them seem to be just scraping by.  On the other hand, I know that ILTC costs a pretty penny and many of the participants here are set to go to four-year universities, so it is very different.
ILTC participants listening to a speaker
5) When any single piece of information is shared or an instruction issued to the 190+ teen participants as an announcement (and often when it's not an announcement), it never happens that they remain silent. It's fascinating to me that they have a need to process everything. The question, though, is how to best manage that need to process. They're going to end up needing to talk or say something to their neighbor(s). I don't have a solution, but I found it of interest.

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