Welcome to Lake Ontario Region’s new blog, managed by the Press Corps Committee. Click on any blog post to view the full post.
Written by: Noa Mandelzweig-Davis, 8th Grade, Dor Chadash BBG #2404.
BBYO is one of the most amazing experiences you will ever get, and one of the things that makes it so awesome is that we get the chance to learn all about our Jewish culture. On the surface, some people might think that BBYO is just about friendship or even leadership, but it is so much more than that. We also learn so many new things about our culture and its history, traditions and rituals.
Before joining BBYO last fall, I didn’t know much about Jewish holidays, but after attending a few programs, I have a much better understanding of recent holidays and how we celebrate them! On holidays, we often have programs about what they mean, which is a great experience! For example, my chapter, Dor Chadash BBG #2404, had a Purim event where we played many fun games and got to learn a lot about Purim and its history. We even received a package with many great activities in it. This really helped me learn about what the holiday meant!
Just as we have many interesting traditions and rituals related to holidays, BBYO has so many of its own traditions, such as conventions and programs, and all chapters and regions have their own special traditions too. For example, business meetings are a way for chapters to catch up all the members and provide new information that the members need to know. And usually after every program we sing a song, to symbolize the sisterhood or brotherhood in our chapter. All of these different practices make up our BBYO traditions.
We also have the BBG Member’s Manual, known as the red book, and the AZA Member’s Manual, known as the blue book. We give them out to every new member to let them know how we do things in BBYO and they keep it with them all throughout their time in BBYO! These books symbolize our rituals, history and how we run the movement. With these books, you also receive an induction pin. The first pin you get is for becoming a new member of BBYO, and as you go forward with your chapters, you will receive more pins. One common goal of members is to fill the cover of their book with pins!
BBYO lets you learn about your chapter, as well as traditions and holidays, and is a great way to learn more about your Jewish identity.
Pictured: Members of Dor Chadash BBG #2404 at a recent chapter program.
Written by: Arli Marans, 10th Grade, Ahava BBG #2447.
Separates – what is it, why is it important? This tradition takes place all across the order and it gives members the chance to bond and get to know one another through deep and meaningful programming. For many, separates is one of the best experiences they have during their time in BBYO – whether they participate on a chapter, regional, or international level. Separates programming is a staple, no matter if it’s from a Zoom screen or on a hotel’s banquet room floor.
In Lake Ontario Region this year, BBGs were given the chance to join a Separates committee, where they would have the opportunity to provide input and ideas towards how we envision and run our Separates programming. I was thrilled when I found out I would get a chance to join this initiative, and work with my peers to ensure all BBGs found Separates as special as I do.
As part of our work each week, we were split into two main groups – one who put together surveys to gain further information on what members would like to see, and a team who would lead the BBG separates instagram account. To our delight, both the instagram account and the surveys were a success! On the Instagram, we take turns weekly to post about topics we believe have importance to BBGs across the region – whether it’s about Anita M. Perlman, stress relievers, or more. The questionnaires also provide information on how BBGs in the region feel and what they want to see in separates.
With the help of both the account and the surveys to give us input, we were able to create ‘BBG Separates: A Year In Review,’ an event for BBGs all across the region. This night exceeded our expectations by far, and everyone who had a hand in the planning process was amazed at how much fellow BBGs enjoyed it! With a turnout of more than 60 BBGs it truly was a night we will never forget!
After starting off with an incredibly meaningful Havdalah ceremony, we separated into groups to continue our night with grade-specific programming. Grade eights came together for “A fresh start” as their first separates for most, while grade nines enjoyed some “Spring cleaning.”. The grade tens bonded over “Getting that summer mindset” and talked about all things positivity, and our grade elevens had some fun “Building a mental calendar.”. With the year coming to an end, our seniors participated in one of their last BBG Separates of their BBYO career where we talked about “Letting go.”. All of these topics came together into our theme of “A Year In Review” and helped us all learn about how we can use the events from this last year to benefit our futures.
Not only did every grade have a chance to engage in impactful programs, but we got to bond with each other in a way that we normally don’t have the opportunity to do! Before the night came to an end, we joined back together as one group, one community of BBGs, to close what we began. Talking about the past year, shaking it all off, and feeling as close as ever to one another.
Through BBG Separates Night, we took important issues and faced them head on, making every participant realize that their support system in this organization is bigger than they truly ever imagined. I’m so glad I had a part to play in the creation of this event, and I hope that this night was as impactful for others as it was for me!
Pictured: The senior BBGs attending BBG Separates: A Year in Review, learning about letting go and moving on.
Written by: Josh Zaretsky, 9th Grade, Exodus AZA #1111.
I think everyone can agree that the past year has been challenging, and even though more than a year has passed since lockdowns and closures began, it is still challenging to adapt to this reality. But despite all that has happened, there was one thing that got me back on my feet: getting involved in BBYO.
The grass seemed greener as I started feeling confident again, I would laugh and forget all of the negativity, and a new perspective of the world emerged. Without a doubt, joining BBYO had a huge impact on my newfound positivity, and so even though I probably didn’t experience a traditional entry to this organization, I know that attending my first chapter program on a random Wednesday back in September was the best thing I’ve ever done, and my highlight of 2020.
Looking back, the summer of 2020 was by far my lowest point. My grade 8 graduation was replaced by a short buffering video, and I quickly lost touch with a lot of my good friends that I bonded with in elementary school. With extracurricular activities being cancelled and city-wide closures, there was simply nothing to do.
By the fall, as the number of cases of COVID-19 slowly descended from the initial spike, I noticed that while I was lying around doing nothing all day, my sister Brittany kept busy with BBYO. I knew of the organization as I had attended a few programs the year before, and I had volunteered at a JCC hanukkah party with BBYO members, but I never joined because of all the other things I had going on at the time. That’s when Brittany suggested that I try it out again, and she convinced me to attend chapter Exodus AZA #1111’s fall kickoff.
Walking into the Exodus program, I already somewhat knew some of the guys there, but what I didn’t know was how much this chapter would impact me in the coming months. Though the event was socially-distanced and we all wore masks, I really connected with the members, and found that these people were going through similar things as me. Then, after attending a few more programs and becoming a member myself, my school friends that I’ve known for a very long time happened to show up. This made me enjoy the programs so much more since not only was I meeting new people, but I also felt comfortable with friends I already knew. So, of course, I had to get them to join as well.
Soon after that, I was given the chance to take on a small leadership opportunity and found myself making dumb videos for the chapter Instagram wishing people happy birthday as the ‘sunshine boy’. This also helped me get to know more people, even though programs at that point had been moved online. Another thing that really helped me integrate into the chapter was the big-little initiative. Having a senior member focus on welcoming me definitely led to me getting much more involved in the chapter. My big, Ben Steinberg, did an amazing job learning more about me, passing down important things, and even convincing me he was someone else so well by telling me my big made him give me a gift package when it was from him all along.
Fast forward a few months and I’ve now been elected as Exodus’s chapter S’gan, gotten to know so many members, made a lot of close friends, shared some amazing memories with them, and I already have a drawer dedicated to all the BBYO swag I’ve received. I’ve learned some valuable lessons from the numerous opportunities BBYO has already given me, such as how to manage my time better between schoolwork, chapter board responsibilities, and time for myself. I can better see the happiness in life thanks to a workshop I attended during the International Convention, and I’m proud to be Jewish despite living in a world with some unfortunate hate.
It has only been a few months and joining BBYO has already affected my life so much. I can’t wait to see how the next few years unfold. Thank you for reading my slightly different story, and I’ll see you at Spring Convention!
Pictured: Josh Zaretsky being inducted as an Aleph at New Members Night.
Written by: Taylor Levy, 9th Grade, L’Chaim BBG #2444.
International Convention (IC) 2021 was different from a typical IC for many reasons. However, it also brought many new experiences. One of the unique features of IC 2021 was Meet Up, or as most would refer to it, BBYOmegle, for its similarities to Omegle, a popular chat website. The Meet Up feature allowed IC delegates to connect with a random participant from across the world with a click of a button, have a 3-minute time slot with the option to extend it, and leave any time, even mid-sentence. If you were lucky, maybe you even had the chance to meet “chicken man.” This distinctive Meet Up feature was part of the Hopin platform used throughout IC, alongside the “mainstage,” “sessions,” and “BBYO boulevard” where many IC programs took place.
BBYOmegle led to many common experiences, some of which likely happened to you if you tried it. Here are some of my favourites:
- That moment when the time is just about to run out, and they don’t accept the extension, so you lose that person and the conversation forever. It’s pretty sad, especially if you didn’t even get their Instagram or snapchat.
- That feeling when you just want to leave a boring conversation that you’re having, but you are just too polite. It is very awkward.
- That feeling when you “connected” with someone from your own region and, since you already know them, you both just start awkwardly laughing. It’s pretty funny, and some of my favourite memories happened this way.
- Of course, you cannot forget about that feeling when you “connect” with your best friend.
- Finally, a very strange moment that happened to me multiple times: When you connect with a random person who is crying or caught up in a previous meet-up, so you’re nice and chat with them, even if you have no clue what’s going on.
Before I hopped into IC 2021, I met one of my closest friends, Casey Miller. Casey is a junior (Grade 11) from Michigan Region. I interviewed them because they loved BBYOmegle, here’s what they had to say:
Jadyn: How did BBYOmegle make your IC experience better?
Casey: BBYOmegle changed the way that I think of a virtual program. I would’ve never thought of this feature, until I logged into Hopin. This feature is truly a WOW factor that has never been seen before by teens, and now all of my BBYOmegle friends are sharing the link [to a petition] to keep BBYOmegle alive forever. Here’s the link!
Jadyn: What was your favourite BBYOmegle memory?
Casey: My favourite BBYOmegle memory hands down was meeting new people from all across the world, such as BBYO Balkans, BBYO Austria, BBYO South Africa and so many more. I stayed up way past my bedtime, and for my sake, it paid off. I got to meet teens from BBYO Australia when it was their morning, and I got to meet so many more international members, with pretty cool accents too.
Jadyn: Are you still in contact with the people that you met on BBYOmegle? If so, do you feel that they are now some of your closest friends?
Casey: I am 100% still in contact with the people that I met on BBYOmegle, whether through iMessage, WhatsApp, GroupMe, Instagram, or Snapchat, and so many more diverse platforms. I would say that the people that I met on BBYOmegle during IC 2021 are some of my closest friends that I will be staying in contact with.
Sometimes, when too few people were on BBYOmegle, you would either get matched with the same group of people, or you would wait to get matched with “the next person available”. One time, I was on FaceTime with my friend Jadyn Right (Dor Chadash BBG #2404), and at the same time, we “connected” on BBYOmegle together because there was no one else wanting to meet up at the time. It was so funny, and definitely a great memory we shared while laughing on two calls together at once.
Meeting new people in a unique way, such as BBYOmegle, made members forget all about having to be at home during IC, and it allowed us to form new bonds and connections with teens that members would not have otherwise had the chance to meet. Take the feeling of getting pushed into a random room with random people in-person, bring it online, and call it BBYOmegle.
Written by: Jadyn Right, 9th Grade, Dor Chadash BBG #2404.
Going into a virtual convention, or any virtual program for that matter, most of us can agree that it’s hard to imagine replicating the energy and atmosphere of an in-person event. We imagine what it would be like normally, we think about what would be the most interesting parts if we were together in person, and we wonder what will keep us engaged online.
On January 29th 2021, we kicked off our Frat/Sis Convention weekend and all hesitation vanished. Not wanting to be disappointed, I logged onto the convention’s Zoom link with low expectations, although the package sent to my house had given me a bit more hope. However, Frat/Sis Convention turned out to be absolutely incredible!
The packages were so well done, and when they arrived at our doorsteps, we were all amazed. Every participant received a box that included supplies for each day of our convention, as well as some items for the entirety of the weekend; such as whiteboards and the infamous toques, which were really comfortable and fun! The packages were made in hopes of engaging members, and I think that they successfully served their purpose.
Friday included an array of incredible programming; Opening Ceremonies, icebreakers, candle lighting and Kabbalat Shabbat, as well as several Oneg Shabbat options to end off the night. These programs were an incredible way to kick off this unique convention!
On Saturday, we had a Shacharit service, Limmud programming, Havdalah, Beauheart Ball, AZA & BBG Separates, and a spirited friendship circle led by our amazing song leading team. One of the amazing surprises was a cameo from Tik Tok star @WillyWonkaTikTok, even if he did say, butcher the pronunciation of Beauheart as “Be-you-heart Ball”! This was an incredible wow factor, and it was so creative for the steering committee to get a cameo from this Tok Tok star, especially because the Ball’s theme was Chocolate Factory! Saturday’s programs made me feel the most connected and brought back so many memories from last year, despite participating on Zoom.
On Sunday, we began with a Shacharit service, followed by AZA & BBG business meetings, AZAA/BBGG, and finally, closing ceremonies. That day, my favourite memory was AZAA/BBGG because my heart and home, Chapter Dor Chadash, won the AZAA/BBGG competition!
Of course, I cannot forget the entertaining Chofesh Hallway that was open throughout the weekend. I met so many more amazing people in our Region, as we bonded through Jackbox and Skribbl.io. Additionally, I made some amazing memories and inside jokes that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my time in BBYO.
From a member’s perspective, I did not expect this convention to be so outstanding. It was eye-opening for me, and it completely changed my perspective about virtual conventions. From opening ceremonies, to ‘be you heart ball,’ to friendship circle, to closing ceremonies, every part was so well planned! The weekend was absolutely amazing, and it went by too quickly. I can’t believe it has already been a month since it ended. I think that we all learned so many new things; whether about each other, or even about BBYO and how it works. For some of us, this was our first virtual convention. I can truly say that it was one of the best conventions that Lake Ontario Region has EVER seen, and it will be hard to top. I’d like to give a huge shout out to the 41st Regional Board and the entire steering committee for planning such an incredible Frat/Sis Convention! See you at Spring Convention!
Pictured: Sarah Glogauer (left), Jadyn Right (right), and Taylor Levy (bottom) at Frat/Sis Convention 2021.
Written by: Jonah Beckenstein, 10th Grade, Kavod AZA #2468.
There is no doubt that running an online program can be a challenge. Whether you are waiting for everyone to show up, or waiting for another breakout room to finish their activity, there are known to be some less exciting moments. Luckily, after speaking with many great BBYO members, I have found some ways to avoid these moments.
I interviewed Lake Ontario Region’s 41st Regional Aleph Godol, Eric Volgyi, 41st Regional S’ganit, Dalia Right, 41st Regional Moreh, Evan Forman, and 41st Regional Morah, Brittany Zaretsky. I also interviewed the international s’ganim, Jared Wilen (96th Grand Aleph S’gan), and Abbie Johnson (76th International S’ganit) to hear their opinions on virtual programming and engagement within these programs.
One great way to increase engagement is to split the group up into smaller breakout rooms. According to Eric,“it’s hard to keep many people engaged at once, but smaller groups have an advantage.” He spoke a lot about the personal connection within breakout rooms, which enhances the overall experience of a program. Personally, when I go into a breakout room, I find that getting to know people is much easier as you can have smaller group conversations.
Another great way to create engagement and guide meaningful programs is to include wow factors! Dalia suggests that you try “adding interactive elements such as zoom polls and encouraging zoom reactions”.
“Online games are an incredible way to jazz up your programming, a great example is Jackbox! Something that [works well] is creating supply bags/boxes […]! You can also have a guest speaker to elevate your programming if it fits into the theme. There are hundreds of things you can do to spice up your programming through wow factors. If you ever need any help brainstorming do not hesitate to reach out to your Regional S’ganim.”
Zoom programs aren’t just for chapters, as our region recently held our Frat/Sis Convention virtually! I asked Eric what he did to create engagement on the steering calls and he explained: “We made sure there was always something to do, so that people would participate in the call and share ideas.” This applies to all programming as there are times when we aren’t doing anything, and this is one way to keep everyone focussed.
Often, there are programs that involve teams or groups, and it may not be a program that is best-suited for breakout rooms, much like our recent Big/Little Family Feud, run by Evan and Brittany. Evan explained why they decided against using breakout rooms: “Constantly going in and out of breakout rooms would have hurt the overall flow of the program.” Breakout rooms can be an asset, but not always. This program worked well being in a large group. It was an amazing regional program, but it may not work for chapters. Brittany added: “Make it feel more in-person, not just sitting at a computer screen, to really establish the Big/Little bonds in your chapter.”
When working on a chapter program, Brittany also mentioned “Program engagement can suffer if you choose to play games where people get eliminated and don’t play for the remainder of the game. This isn’t fun in virtual programs, because you have to stay muted and just watch, unlike in person, where you can still talk to people and have a good time.” With all that in mind, Big/Little programming varies based on the chapter, the amount of people and the type of program.
Even on an international level, less engagement is common. This year, I had the opportunity to be a part of the International Convention (IC) steering committee and asked Jared and Abbie about engagement within the committee calls, which had over 100 people on at a time. We spoke about their use of breakout rooms. Jared mentioned: “using breakout rooms was a great way to keep steerers engaged and interacting with one another. The more they got to know each other the better it would be if they were to be paired to run a program together!” This is the main reason breakout rooms can be good.
After asking Abbie what exactly the purpose of engaging members of the steering team, she replied with: “We tried to switch things up every meeting, for example, if one meeting we did a reflection Padlet then the next meeting we’d do team breakouts, and then the next one we’d do a Hopin demo! We used screen-sharing on Zoom with slides which was super engaging because the Steerers could listen and follow along visually as well!” These were some of the activities that Abbie and Jared did to keep all the steerers happy and satisfied with the progress of planning IC.
There are so many ways to make online programs more engaging. You can include wow factors, use Zoom’s built in features like breakout rooms and polls, or you can keep everyone occupied. Chapter programming is a huge part of BBYO, and keeping our members focussed is vital. By using these methods that were brought up, we can modify our programs to make everyone engaged.
Pictured: Jonah Beckenstein (right) interviewing Lake Ontario Region’s 41st Regional Aleph Godol, Eric Volgyi, about virtual engagement.
Written by: Sarah Glogauer, 10th Grade, Ahava BBG #2447.
Throughout quarantine, it has been a struggle for me to find things to do. I have looked for lists of quarantine activities, but it was difficult to find options that work within our local lockdown restrictions. I decided to compile a list of my own top ten quarantine activities to share with you, so here they are:
10. Starting off strong at number ten we have art projects! Whether it be painting, drawing, or making bracelets, art can help you destress. Art is a great way to express yourself and show your inner thoughts and feelings. Personally, I have started ‘Diamond Dots,’ a mosaic-style art project. I definitely recommend all of you to try it! The generic name to search for is ‘Gem Painting.’
9. At number nine we have online shopping. This can be a great way to reward yourself. It is always a good idea to support small businesses, especially during this pandemic. Some of my favourite small businesses are: Sprinkle Ridge (@sprinkleridge on Instagram), Sunday Brunch (@sundaybrunchca on Instagram), Handle the Sweet (@handlethesweet on Instagram), and Crumbs and Flour (@crumbsandflour). Shopping at small businesses is a great way to support your community and have fun!
8. At number eight, we have journaling. You can create a vision board using images and words that describe dreams and inspirations. As well, writing about your experiences during quarantine, maybe even for our blog, is a great way to share your thoughts! Reach out to our Press Corps blog captain Leah Stein or our Regional Mazkirim if you’re interested. This year I started something called a Happiness Jar! I write down when I have a good moment so at the end of the year I can reflect on the positive memories I have made!
7. Next, for my favourite number, seven, I recommend that you enjoy the outdoors! There are many activities I have done outside that have been enjoyable. These include: building a snowman, taking a walk in nature, going stargazing, and taking pictures of the sunset. The nature around us is incredible, so why not take advantage of it?
6. For number six, we have watching a new movie or show. Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video are all great sites to watch movies and TV shows. Some great Netflix shows include: Bridgerton, Lupin, History of Swear Words, and Cobra Kai. I also love classics like: The Office, Friends, Glee, and my personal favourite, Dragons Den.
5. Now number five, (I never wanna hear you say) learning something new. This can be anything from TikTok dances, to a new language, or even learning to write with your non-dominant hand. I have started learning sign language with a friend of mine!
4. At number four, we have puzzles or games. These are great activities to do with your family, or on Zoom with friends. I have done a puzzle with my brother and played many games including Scrabble, Monopoly, Life, and Uno.
3. Next, for number three there is self care! Some good examples of this are face masks, meditating, watching funny videos, and rewarding yourself for completing goals. For me, taking breaks has been very important because it helps me regain focus and motivates me to continue what I’m working on.
2. Coming at number two, we have baking or cooking. Some of my favourite things to bake are brownies, cookies, cupcakes, and challah. I also love cooking chili, soup, homemade pizza, and fresh pasta. Cooking and baking are the only things that kept me sane while at home, and definitely helped me relax.
1. Finally, for the top thing to do during quarantine, stay in contact with your friends and family! This can be by mailing letters, sending text messages, or just giving them a phone call. The pandemic is the perfect time to reach out to those you care about, whether they live near or far. I have been staying in contact with my family and friends, but especially my grandparents, as they are bored at home during this time.
Quarantine can be a tough time for finding things to do and many people are bored. I hope this list of ten things to do can help you find something to do!
Pictured: Me (fourth row centre) attending Frat/Sis Convention 2021.
Written by: Leah Stein, 9th Grade, Ahava BBG #2447.
The LOR blog hasn’t been in use much lately, and when I was chosen to be this year’s blog specialist on our Press Corps, I wondered why we don’t post more. In the last year, we’ve published three articles, all written by members of our region about their experiences in BBYO or with Judaism. This makes sense, as normally, that’s what a blog like this is all about. But it doesn’t have to be…
This blog can be a space for anyone to write, and one that allows us to share ideas and things that are of interest with those reading. As blog specialist, I hope to reimagine what our blog is and the potential it holds. Using new writing styles, a variety of topics (not just BBYO events!), and getting writers from all around our region opens the door to new possibilities. The blog will become more than just a place to share how events went, but also what our region and its members are interested in and looking forward to.
We can’t wait to show you all the amazing things coming up on the blog. Anyone can contribute, and articles will be posted every other week! There are going to be so many new ideas and writers coming to the blog, you don’t want to miss out. If you’re interested in writing, reach out to me. We want to give everyone the opportunity to put something up and share their story! This is a chance open to all, so why not try it?
Written by: Vicky Sirkovich, 10th Grade, Chaverot BBG #2307.
My parents have told me about the antisemitism they faced growing up in the USSR, having been verbally abused as well as physically hurt simply for being Jewish. I’ve also witnessed a lot of antisemitism on social media and I’ve heard stories from others, however, I had never experienced antisemitism first-hand. That was until the afternoon of September 18th, the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.
I was taking a walk near Bathurst Street and Steeles Avenue in Thornhill – an area home to a significant number of Jewish people – when I saw a man walking toward me on the sidewalk. At first I didn’t pay attention to him, until I heard what he was yelling. “If you’re Jewish get off the [expletive] sidewalk,” he said. I had never before been made to feel afraid because of my Jewish identity, but at that moment, I was petrified. I suddenly felt lost, disappointed and all I could think about was getting home safely.
Why should I be made to feel so vulnerable and insecure simply because someone else is so full of hate? I believe that no one should feel uncomfortable in their own skin or be ashamed of their beliefs, which is why I’m bringing awareness to this topic.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only recent incident of antisemitism in the area. According to Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, there were swastikas and the words “All Heil Hitler” found written on a wall at Dublin Heights Elementary and Middle School in May and there was antisemitic graffiti discovered at Ledbury Park Elementary and Middle School in April. These are just two of more than 2,000 antisemitic incidents that occur in Canada each year, according to the 2019 Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, produced by B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights.
Words don’t begin to describe how awful it feels to know such hatred exists. However, I’m exceptionally fortunate to be growing up in one of the most diverse countries in the world, and though I will never understand why some people go out of their way to be so cruel, I believe it’s important to become informed, raise awareness, and stand up against antisemitism.
As a member of BBYO, a pluralistic Jewish teen movement with chapters in more than 50 countries around the world, I’ve been able to develop my own personal Jewish identity and create lifelong friendships with a great group of like-minded teens.
When this antisemitic incident happened to me, I turned to BBYO for guidance. The girls in my chapter, Chaverot BBG #2307, supported me, and our chapter advisor connected me with resources so that I could report what had happened. I am extremely grateful that I have so many friends that I can count on when I need them most.
Photo from Google Maps.
Written by: Jadyn Right, 8th Grade, Dor Chadash BBG #2404.
With Spring Virtual Retreat just a few days away, the Steering Committee is working hard to give each member of Lake Ontario Region (LOR) the feelings of a BBYO convention at home! With that being said, it has not been easy. I applied to be part of the Spring Convention Steering Committee back in mid-march for the position of Hospitality Captain. This role ensures that members are having a good time and are engaged in convention programming. Of course, I never thought that a pandemic would affect Spring Convention until it did. Everyone’s original ideas for Spring Convention were based on an assumption that it would take place at Camp George. We had to reframe our ideas and think outside the box. Spring Virtual Retreat will be our first online convention, and it’s going to be a game-changer!
My name is Jadyn Right, I am a member of Chapter Dor Chadash BBG #2404, and this is my first year in BBYO. The moment I walked into my first BBG program at the Schwartz/Reisman Centre, I was so amazed by the welcoming environment. I was eager to learn more about BBYO and how I could become more involved. From chapter programs to regional events, BBYO became something I looked forward to every single week. I first became involved in my chapter by taking on a chair position, and soon after, I decided to apply for Press Corps, Lock-In Steering and Spring Virtual Retreat Steering. I am so thankful to have these various leadership opportunities at such a young age, and that’s what I value most about BBYO.
When heading into our first Spring Convention Steering Committee call, none of us knew what to expect. However, we had two amazing convention coordinators, Mitchell and Sydney, alongside our regional staff, Kevin and Rae, who helped us imagine the possibilities. Through this ‘New Adventure’ (which became the convention’s theme), all Steering Committee members have learned that any challenge, even trying to reimagine Spring Convention as a virtual experience, can bring an entire community together. The transition from ‘IRL’ (in real life) to online was quick and smooth. We are so excited to have all five Canadian regions come together for our annual Maccabiah (colour wars), all online, which is something that could not have happened if Spring Convention was at Camp George! We have so many surprises just waiting to be found out. We have adapted so many traditions and rituals, and we have even found a way to have online senior life books (members write messages to graduating seniors) and warm and fuzzies (participants send kind messages to other members)!
This Spring Convention Steering Committee has been incredible! Every member on the team has been so fun to work with, and I am so glad that I had this amazing opportunity. As the tagline says, ‘BBYO is definitely not cancelled, it’s just online’, and Spring Virtual Retreat has proved it to me. I hope to see all of you there! This awesome regional event starts on Saturday May 16 2020, and you won’t want to miss it!
Pictured: The Spring Virtual Retreat Steering Committee hard at work!
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