5 Ways To Welcome Them Home: Building Bridges Between Camp and Travel Programs and Your Synagogue

Inside Leadership

5 Ways To Welcome Them Home: Building Bridges Between Camp and Travel Programs and Your Synagogue

Three smiling teenagers holding a sign that reads WELCOME HOME

The young people in your congregation spent the summer volunteering, experiencing joyous Judaism at camp and Israel, and traveling the world. We want to help you to leverage their incredible enthusiasm by welcoming them home in ways that elevate and celebrate their summer.

1. Recognize them at Shabbat.

Invite anyone who went to camp or participated in a Jewish summer program onto the bimah to lead candle blessings, receive a special blessing, or lead the congregation in song

2. Invite them to youth group.

Extend personal invitations to the next youth group event, along with a full calendar for the year from the youth director and teen leadership.

3. Let teens lead.

At camp, younger kids are looking up to older teens and imagining the future – future summers when they’ll be counselors, or going on their own Israel trip and wearing t-shirts from NFTY during the summer. Model this! Create opportunities for your teens to lead activities with younger children.

4. Display photos.

This one’s pretty self-explanatory! Our young people and their parents love to see themselves on the bulletin board or big screen in the lobby, and you’ll reap the rewards when more families see how camp and Jewish summer programs contribute to year-round Jewish engagement.

5. It’s not too early to start thinking about next summer!

Invite a camp or summer program representative along with young alumni to your congregation to lead programming and give a presentation. Take advantage of early bird discounts, program experts, and of course, the excitement from this summer!

You can also share these resources with parents to help them welcome their children home:

Want more ideas or have an idea to share? Subscribe to the Journal of Youth Engagement.

Have something to say about this post? Join the conversation in The Tent, the social network for congregational leaders of the Reform Movement. You can also tweet us or tell us how you feel on Facebook.

Scott Hertz, an alumnus of URJ Greene Family Camp, is the Union for Reform Judaism’s Director of Youth Communications.

Scott Hertz

Published: 7/01/2015

Categories: Youth
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