Who would have thought that the best summer of my life could have taken place in Mukwonago, Wisconsin? CLTC (Chapter Leadership Training Conference) is one of BBYO’s summer program opportunities, where I spent 12 amazing days learning about how to become a Jewish leader in my chapter and in my Jewish community as a whole.
BBYO is a youth organization for Jewish teens all around the world. In Baltimore, I participate in events with a group of girls who belong to the chapter Achot BBG #2383. Outside of that, BBYO also gives you many chances to meet teens from all over the country. One of those ways is summer programs. With so many from which to choose, I found myself faced with a tough decision. Luckily, I made the right choice by picking CLTC.
My favorite part was the optional Shacharit morning services. At first, I was reluctant to attend. I’ve participated in similar services at summer camps in the past, but to my surprise, the CLTC Shacharit was completely different. My friends and I would sing “Oseh Shalom” at the top of our lungs, and by the end of the session I was even brave enough to teach my favorite “Adon Olam” tunes to an audience of more than 50.
Not only did CLTC solidify my connection to Judaism, it also taught me leadership skills that I use every day to improve my chapter at home. I learned how to lead chapter meetings, encourage Israel advocacy, plan bonding programs and organize fund-raisers, and everything in between. The whole experience was invaluable; it’s enabled me to take my BBYO career further. I was elected president of my chapter, and I’m on an international globalization committee.
I’ve gone to Jewish summer camp for five years, but I would trade all of that for just one summer at CLTC. Not only did I learn leadership, but I also gained friends who I talk to every single day. San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas, you name it — I met great people from all over the country.
I would recommend CLTC to anyone, but if you’re looking for a different summer experience, BBYO offers many other programs too. Do you want to go to Israel to learn prayers on top of Masada? Do you want to meet teens from Bulgaria and help strengthen their Jewish community? Do you want to do service projects all over the U.S. in cities such as Boston, Chicago and Washington? BBYO has a summer program for all of those things.
If you are a Jewish teen interested in having the summer of your life, you should check out the BBYO’s summer programs. There will be an information session at the JCC for teens and their families on Nov. 17. I hope to see you there.
Melanie Weiskopf is a student at Park School.