Let the Games Begin!

It was a colorful, fun-filled day at URJ Kutz Camp yesterday when more than 500 teens and staffers from the two largest Jewish youth movements in North America joined together for an unprecedented inter-camp Maccabiah games. Teens from NFTY, the Reform Movement’s youth group, joined forces with with teens from BBYO‘s International Kallah at B’nai B’rith’s Perlman Camp in Lake Como, Penn., for the big day.

Maccabiah teams included a mix of participants and staff from both camps. Through the games, teens learned about both youth movements and shared ideas for how they can better collaborate on service projects in their local communities. See photos and tweets from the event.

This was an historic moment for NFTY and BBYO, presenting an opportunity to socialize and break down long-standing barriers that have existed between the two groups. They only recently united as founding members of the Coalition for Jewish Teens, which led the effort to create awareness about bullying and co-hosted viewings of the movie “Bully” in major cities across North America.

In the press release for the event, Kutz Camp Director Melissa Frey said, “This is truly a unified effort to begin building more meaningful bridges between the participants in our programs, and to support the ongoing work of the Coalition of Jewish Teens  and the Reform Movement’s Campaign for Youth Engagement. In addition to the fun aspects of Maccabiah, there was very intentional messaging and programming around collaboration, unity, and responsibility as Jewish teen leaders.” At the core of the Reform Movement’s Campaign for Youth Engagement is the ideal of reaching out and building creative partnerships with organizations such as BBYO to create new pathways for youth engagement.

NFTY & BBYO teens gather in their color-themed teams before the games start.

Leaders of NFTY and BBYO, including NFTY president Evan Traylor, center, get the games started.

The green team wins!

Teens from NFTY & BBYO participate in a spirit competition.

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Kate Bigam

About Kate Bigam

Kate Bigam is the URJ's Social Media and Community Manager. Prior to this, she served as a Congregational Representative for the URJ's East District and at the Religious Action Center as Press Secretary and as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Kate resides in Northeast Ohio.


  1. Camp Works: Strengthening the Jewish Family | RJ Blog - July 31, 2012

    […] and supported throughout their lives in their camps and the Jewish community as a whole. Recently, Kutz Camp hosted BBYO for their first-ever inter-organizational Maccabiah Games. When the games broke out, NFTY president and Kutz camper Evan Traylor gave a speech that included […]

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