Who Is the NFTY-MAR Regional Advisor?
I’d like to briefly introduce myself – my name is Jessa Cameron, and I am the Regional Director for the NFTY Mid-Atlantic region (NFTY-MAR). My job is to work with the congregations and youth leadership of NFTY-MAR to create a meaningful reform Jewish experience for teens, including weekend regional events and local day long activities.
Where Can I Find More Information About NFTY-MAR?
For more information about specific events, including deadlines, please be in touch with your local temple youth group advisors. We’ll post that information as an event gets closer, but all our deadlines have already been set, and your congregational leaders know what it is! You can always feel free to email me with your questions, but your advisors and clergy are also well-informed, and are fantastic resources. Additionally, we highly recommend that you “like” our Facebook page!
To answer a lot of your general questions, please read on to find out:
- What and when are our 2019-2020 regional events?
- Where are our events held?
- How do I get to the events?
- What should I expect when I arrive at an event?
- Who are the Regional Board?
- What kinds of things do we do at events?
- What are the housing guidelines?
- What is the adult supervision like?
- Where and when can I find the detailed information about events?
- Event emergency contact information
- General do’s, don’ts, and reminders
What and When Are Our 2019-2020 Regional Events?
Jewish Education, Learning, Leadership Development Opportunities (JELLO) – September 20-22, 2019 – open to all 9th-12th graders
Subregional Leadership Days – East/West: October 26,2019 // North: November 10, 2019 // South: November 23, 2019 – open to all 9th-12th graders
Mid Atlantic Junior Youth Kallah (MAJYK) – December 6-8, 2019 – open only to 6th-8th graders
Winter Kallah – January 17-20, 2020 – open to all 9th-12th graders
TheVent – March 13-15, 2020 – open to all 8th-12th graders
Spring Kallah – April 30-May 3, 2020 – open to all 8th-12th graders
We have two types of regional events, camp-hosted and temple-hosted. There are camp-hosted events: Jewish Education Learning Leadership Development Opportunities (JELLO), Winter Kallah, and Spring Kallah, and temple-hosted events: Subregional Leadership Days, Mid Atlantic Junior Youth Kallah (MAJYK), and TheVent.
NFTY-MAR provides a bus service to all of our events. These buses make several stops in our most-populated cities, and when you register for an event, you’ll be able to choose which bus stop location you’d like to utilize.
The event information page for each event will list that event’s starting and ending time, and if you know how far away you live from the event location, you can get a general idea of what time you’ll be leaving and arriving back home. Final bus stop information will be sent out in an email at least one week prior to each event.
In order to conserve time, gas, and money spent on our buses, we do have some regulations; each bus stop location must have at least four participants and one staff member to be used. If the stop doesn’t meet those minimum requirements, we’ll contact those who did sign up for it three weeks prior to the event and kindly request that they plan to depart from and arrive at an alternate location. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation!
Upon your arrival to a NFTY-MAR event, you will be greeted by the NFTY-MAR Regional Board, the Regional director, and the adult temple or camp staff. The first thing you’ll do when you get off the bus, or out of the car, is set your luggage down and go get your name tag and an event schedule.
Friday evening will generally continue with mixers, dinner, Shabbat services, a meeting to go over some basic logistics and the Brit Kehillah (Code of Conduct), any hoda’ot (announcements) that we have, and then you will depart to your host homes or cabins for the evening.
The Regional Board is comprised of 6 high school juniors and/or seniors that were elected by the region the previous spring to bring their expertise in programming, social action, Judaism, leadership, and much more to the NFTY events this year. They also serve as liaisons from our region to the North American NFTY community, serving as our representatives at national conventions, participating in national leadership conferences, and acting as delegates to elect the North American NFTY Board. Throughout the year, they are available as resources to anyone and everyone.
Each event has leadership, social action, religious, and social aspect. We participate in unique and engaging worship experiences, hands on social justice activities, learn leadership skills that are applicable to the rest of our lives as well as within NFTY, and have a lot of fun! In addition, each of our events has a specific focus; JELLO is primarily leadership training, Winter Kallah tends to be more of an introspective journey, TheVent is social action and Color Wars, and MAJYK is an introduction to all that NFTY has to offer.
When you arrive at an event, you will be given your housing assignments. At the time that you register for the event, you are able to note roommate requests, and we do our best to honor those requests. Because we have both participants and host families signing up and cancelling up until the last minute, we are unable to publish housing assignments before your arrival at the event.
At camp events, participants are housed in single-sex cabins. Each cabin has at least one adult staff member, and enough beds for each participant. They are winterized, and have plenty of bathrooms and showers, with warm water.
At temple events, the participants spend the nights at host homes. We have a strict set of rules for our host homes, and a high standard for the families. NFTY’s host-home policies are:
- No single-parent home will house participants of the opposite gender.
- No host home will house only one guest; there will always be at least three.
- Every participant is guaranteed to be housed with at least one of their housing requests.
- Only the immediate members of the host family over the age of 21 will drive participants.
- All host families are members in good standing of either the host congregation, or another URJ affiliated congregation in the area.
- At the end of the day, participants are to proceed directly to their host homes and are not to leave at any point during the evening. In the morning, they will be taken straight from their host homes to the designated location.
I understand that housing can be the source of some anxiety for many first-time NFTY parents, and I’d first like to assure you that your children will be well cared for. I’d also like to reiterate that I am available 24-7 throughout the course of the weekend to answer any of your questions.
Each event is staffed by a variety of highly qualified adult youth workers. They are either NFTY alumni, TYG advisors, educators, or clergy, and are at least sophomores in college or 21 years of age. All camp staff members, regardless of age or experience, are expected to adhere to the exact same Code of Conduct standards that every participant also signs. We have strict staff-to-participant ratios that we follow; at camp-hosted events, it is at least 1-to-10, and at temple-hosted events, it is at least 1-to-15.
Every staff member actively participates in all our programming throughout each day; they are each assigned to either specific program groups or activities, or to “roam” the premises. During camp events, at night, one staff member of each gender rotate being shmira, or on duty, for two hours after cabins-in, and then go directly to their sleeping quarters.
All of our event dates are posted on our online calendar.
Before each event, we post an event description, relevant registration and cancellation dates, and start and end times. Your TYG staff will also let you know about these things when they get closer!
Shortly after registration closed, you’ll get a confirmation email with some basic information, including a packing list, and tentative bus schedule.
Generally, as the Regional Director, I am the emergency contact for all NFTY-MAR events. In the final information email, you’ll receive the week before my event, I’ll include all of the weekend emergency numbers.
- Remember to bring: a small gift for your host family (to temple-hosted events only), and cash for canteen, where you can by fantastic NFTY-MAR merchandise – it’s never too early to start your collection!
- Be prepared for lots of laughing, learning, and great memories.
- Please be sure that I have the most up-to-date information regarding any potential health concerns, by continuing to keep me posted if anything comes up, even during the event. It’s my job to make sure that everyone is happy and healthy.
- Along with that, please consider your fellow participants and host family when assessing potential illness as the event nears – we love you all and would hate for anyone to miss out, but please stay home if you are sick.
- Remember that you signed the Brit Kehillah, which will be reviewed at the event, and adhere to it. We want everybody to have an awesome time in a safe environment, so we ask that you refrain from any activities that would leave us forced to send you home.
- Please leave at home anything that you would be devastated to lose – NFTY is not responsible for any lost or stolen items, and we would hate for you to be out an iPod, jewelry, or any other valuables.
- Please come excited to meet new people and make great new friends!
What Other Things like NFTY Exist Out There for Me?
NFTY, and its umbrella organization the Union for Reform Judaism, offer a variety of youth programming throughout the year and over the summer. Here are some things to check out:
- URJ Kutz Camp: NFTY’s Leadership Campus for Reform Jewish Teens
- URJ Mitzvah Corps: Reform Jewish Teens Social Action
- URJ Camp Harlam
- URJ Israel Programs