This weekend, I had the awesome opportunity to attend West Coast Party at URJ Camp Newman. When you have a NFTY or camp event, you are bringing together passionate, enthusiastic teens, all motivated by their love of Judaism. When you do it with 400 teens from 3 URJ Camps and 4 NFTY regions all across the West Coast, you get an incredible four days of fun, learning, and celebrating an incredible community.
Having been a past participant and staff member at this event, I came in with an understanding of just how amazing the event could be. I knew it would be a busy weekend filled with all of the best things about what it means to be a camper and a NFTYite. I was not disappointed.
We had a pajama dance party, where every teen got to show off their best moves. We had engaging discussions about this week’s Torah Portion, Bo, including breakout sessions like: Torah’s the Avenger’s: Age of Adonai, 10 Plagues of the 21st Century, and Debate Pharoah’s Fate. We got to enjoy a rocking concert with Jewish music superstar Dan Nichols which was, as you can guess, AMAZING. Each region got to lead a Big Fun for everyone at the event, ranging from dodgeball to a luau. Throughout, we got to come together and celebrate how awesome it is that we can gather in one place and have fun through a Jewish lens.
For a lot of the teens, this was a special chance to see their camp friends during the year, something that does not happen as often as we would like when camps serve large geographical areas. On the first day there were epic hugs between friends as they were reunited for the first time in months. That excitement carried throughout the entire weekend until they had to say lehitraot (see you later) Monday morning. Over the course of the event, I saw participants wearing their camp shirts, talking about their camp stories, dancing their camp’s choreography during Israeli dancing, and doing their camp’s unique version of birkat hamazon (blessing said after eating meals). Anywhere you turned, you could see the influence that camp was having, not only on the event, but on the teens that have been inspired by their summers in the URJ camping system.
Camp is not just a summer activity, but rather a part of a holistic approach to engaging our youth in year round living Judaism.
The friendships created, memories made, and Jewish values learned at camp last much longer than a summer and are sustained throughout the year through programs like West Coast Party. West Coast Party, in addition to being a reunion, is an opportunity to see the best of what camping has to offer, and to work on making sure that our future camping experiences are ones where we can set our teens up for success all 12 months of the year.
As 6 Points Sports gets ready to open its doors for the first time this summer, I am excited to be part of a team that fosters a community in which Jewish youth can create long lasting memories, genuine friendships, strengthen their Jewish identities, and develop their sports skills. I look forward to seeing 6 Points Sports alumni at West Coast Party 2018!