Sometimes finding Judaism comes in the form of a party. Who ever said finding meaning and making connections had to be boring? A few weeks ago, 400 teens and 100 young adults came together to do just that. Every two years, URJ Camp Newman joins forces with NFTY, Kutz Teens, Kalsman and EIE Reunion to create a three day retreat for high school teens and we call it a party. A West Coast Party- to be exact. And trust us- we know how to put on a good party.
Things every good party should have:
– At least 400 inspired, welcoming and fun Jewish teens
– Attendees from California, Arizona, Hawaii, Washington, Texas and Nevada
– A fundraiser that includes dressing up AND dancing (a photo booth is a plus)
– A great theme (Ours was “Praying with Your Feet: Making Change One Step at a Time”)
– Programming where everyone takes home inspirational and hand decorated socks
– Dan Nichols. Always Dan Nichols.
Since we also believe that a good party should always be shared, here are some of the ways that we made West Coast Party memorable, insightful and an absolute blast:
Why fight technology when you can use it to share meaningful moments in your life through photo and prayer? We asked our teens to post Instagram photos based on prompts we gave to match each prayer. Some topics we used were things we were thankful for, when we feel close to God and a moment we felt saved. The posted pictures were then projected onto the tent for the entire audience to share in!
Superhero Dance-A-Thon Fundraiser
It’s never a good party unless there is a little social action involved! We joined forces with St. Baldrick’s and the ’36 Rabbi’s Shave for the Brave’ (now more than 50 rabbis!) to raise money in honor and memory of Superman Samuel Sommer who recently passed away from pediatric leukemia. With efforts before, during and after the Dance-A-Thon we raised over $9,000!
Dan Nichols Concert and Newmanland (in the same night!)
As we said, no party is complete without a concert by the legendary and Newman favorite Dan Nichols. Not only did he put on a rocking show full of wisdom, moments to ’embrace the awkward’ (his favorite catchphrase) and community building through dance and song- but we also had an incredible havdallah with him! Afterwards we enjoyed a camp-wide event full of bounce houses, blow up obstacle courses, a coffee shop style open mic, a game room and music!
Programming Lead by one of our Teens and Reform CA
Who better to lead us than one of our own? Reuban Bank joined forces with Rabbi Sydney Mintz from Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco to lead us in a program about immigration, the effects it has on us and our society as well as steps we can take to be involved and get informed. The program included personal stories, sharing and a new perspective on a subject many of our teens haven’t been exposed to.
Great parties have party favors for participants to take home; and WCP does not disappoint with campers taking home new and old friendships, joyful and meaningful Jewish memories and an inspired heart to create a better world.