The days on the calendar are rushing by, and the countdown is on to summer 2019!
This summer, more than 600 congregational leaders will serve as faculty on a URJ youth program, including camps, Israel trips, and Mitzvah Corps programs. This is an exceptional network of clergy, educators, youth professionals, and lay leaders and it is unique among all the Jewish youth movements.
Without you, this work wouldn’t be possible. Your shared commitment to engaging the next generation is critical in helping each young person discover meaning, purpose, and joy in being Jewish. With congregations as sacred partners in this work, together our Movement is celebrating more than 20,000 Reform Jewish youth, teens, and young adults immersed in a Reform Jewish experience.
If you’re excited about that number, you’re not alone! Here are a few other numbers that have us excited and ready for summer:
- Teens engaged in 200,000 hours of Israel education and 130,000 hours focused on mental health and wellness this year in NFTY and other Reform youth programs.
- 5,000 college students engaged with the Reform Movement this year, mobilizing around issues, training their peers, and serving as staff for URJ camps and NFTY programs.
- 2,000 teens had a leadership role in a congregation, camp, or NFTY region, shaping a generation of young leaders focused on increasing diversity, accessibility, and inclusiveness of our communities.
We know, too, that the numbers are only part of the story. Here’s a sneak peek at just a few of the highlights of the 2018-19 program year and what to expect in Summer 2019:
- A summer of milestones! Campers will return to URJ Camp Newman’s Santa Rosa Campus for the first time since the Tubbs fire. Our newest camps – 6 Points Creative Arts Academy and 6 Points Sci-Tech West – will celebrate strong 2nd summers with expanded offerings. Alumni will gather at URJ Kutz Camp, and we’ll celebrate new facilities, expanded specialty programming, and an even deeper commitment to inclusion across our camping system.
- New specialty Israel experiences for teens: This summer we’re excited to launch Sports Israel, a specialty Israel travel experience for 11th- and 12th-grade athletes to explore, teach, and play. We’re already planning for next summer, too, when we’ll launch Chalutzim B’aretz, a Hebrew immersion trip to Israel for teens.
- Increased middle school engagement: As the school year concludes, we’re celebrating 2,500+ middle school students who participated in NFTY this year. We’re excited about the strong growth of the middle school “pipeline” and other experiments to engage more teens. We’re also excited that so many of these middle school students are also choosing URJ summer programs, strengthening the arc of post-b’nei mitzvah engagement. Speaking of which…
- New resources and opportunities for congregations to strengthen post-b’nei mitzvah education and engagement. Over the last two years, the URJ has worked with colleagues and lay leaders as part of the URJ Post-B’nei Mitzvah Innovators Community of Practice. This summer, congregations can sign up to participate in an online learning course to reimagine post-b’nei mitzvah engagement. Additionally, the Youth Professional 101 Fellowship and the Sacred Partners in Education initiative will offer congregations two more ways to support the professionals and lay leaders who support this critical work.
All of this, and so much more, is made possible by your shared commitment to engaging the next generation. Wherever you are this summer, we hope you’ll stay connected to your youth, teens, and graduates and follow along with us by subscribing to the Clipboard for the best stories from our programs.
On behalf of the URJ, we wish you and your youth and teens a summer full of meaning, purpose, and joy. Let the fun begin!