Last weekend, I attended my first ever NFTY event, Fall Kallah in Buffalo, New York. Too make a long story short, the advisor at my temple had another obligation and asked if I could fill in. A weekend away with lots of CG friends? Why not?
Going into the weekend I really had no idea what to expect, but from the moment I stepped onto the bus, I realized that this was just like camp in weekend. On the bus the kids were all singing songs and talking about what they were looking forward to. When we arrived in Buffalo, where the event was taking place, all the kids ran off the bus and towards their friends, again just like camp!
One of the great things about this particular event, is that it was social action based. On Saturday everyone signed up to participate in a different project which involved giving back to the local community. Options included helping at animal shelter, visiting a retirement home to name a few options. The group I was placed with went to AMVETS, a thrift store that sells gently used clothing and household goods. All the profits from the organization are split between a variety of charities and most importantly, also go to help war veterans. Our task for the afternoon was to tidy the store, making sure that everything was neatly organized and ready to be purchased, easier said than done at a busy store! It was great to see the kids in the group really owning their tasks and working together to make them happen.
Throughout the weekend, there were Shabbat services, social action projects (not unlike Barak Gives Back Day,) meaningful discussions and of course time to participate in activities (even rock climbing) and socialize with friends. At multiple points throughout the weekend, I found myself so impressed by the participants and their enthusiasm for each and every activity. Whether they were singing in services, organizing clothes at the Salvation Army, or making sure their students who were at their first NFTY event felt included, it was amazing to see students from many communities come together for this event.
Of course, it was also wonderful to connect with many campers, staff and even faculty over the weekend! Catching up with “camp people” is always a highlight and it was fantastic to also see how the strength of camp friendships carry on into the school year. Even though it’s only November, it was clear that excitement about CG 2014 is already in the air!
All in all, I’m really glad I got to experience this event. Thanks to everyone who welcomed me into the NFTY community!
- Jane HK