By Becca Wolchok, NFTY/Kutz Program Associate and NFTY Northeast Alumna
I spent the most memorable summer of my life at the URJ Kutz Camp in 2006. This was the major catalyst behind my decision, or mission rather, to attend NFTY Convention in 2007. Even though I had been an active member of my region (NFTY Northeast), I was catapulted into the North American excitement after that fateful summer. Upon leaving camp, no one said goodbye to one another. It was only a mixture of “see you in February!” and “you better request me for housing!” All of these departing words were, of course, in reference to Convention in Philadelphia that coming year.
In truth, my parents were not super appreciative when my camp homecoming carried yet another travel and financial request. Furthermore, they were less than understanding of the nature of this seemingly social gathering. After all of the parental support I received for prior NFTY events and years of camp, I was told that for this one, I was on my own. In the end, the decision was resolute: I would be paying for it myself.
That fall I got my first real job. Not that my babysitting jobs or cat-sitting gigs were fake, but this one was steady. I was determined to reach my goal by January, and I needed to get serious about reaching it. I diligently worked 10-15 hours a week at my local CVS Pharmacy. I operated the cash register, restocked shelves and I even cleaned the bathroom. The latter was probably my least favorite experience, but it was important part of my journey nonetheless. My first job taught me so much about myself. In this context, it taught me that I could indeed save for Convention by January. It didn’t take me very long or impede much on social life and I learned to love the responsibility.
When I pulled up to Convention in February of 2007, I remember rushing off the bus to dozens of greetings and hugs from both Kutz and regional friends. It felt like I was home again. Standing on the pavement, an overwhelming sense of satisfaction washed over me. I was exactly where I wanted to be. No, needed to be. It turns out, at 16 years old, you can accomplish quite a bit on your own.
This year, we’re slowly heading towards NFTY Convention 2013 in LA. I am certain that you’re excitement and anticipation matches what mine was in high school. All of your camp, TYG and NFTY friends in one place; it’s borderline mind blowing. You have GOT to get there. I mean it; it will be one of the most pivotal events of your life. Please know that this is 100% possible. Get creative: do extra chores around the house, organize a garage sale or have a bake sale! There are so many ways you can make this dream a reality. It is now the beginning of October; you have plenty of time to mobilize. Show yourself, just as I was able to show myself, that you can take charge of your own destiny.
Can’t wait to see you in February!
NFTY Convention is the biennial North American gathering of the North American Federation of Temple Youth. The only event of its kind, NFTY Convention brings together Reform Jewish teens from all of NFTY’s nineteen regions, our URJ Camps, alumni of our Israel and Mitzvah Corps programs, and teens committed to Reform Jewish life to laugh, learn, pray and sing together. NFTY Convention will take place in Los Angeles, CA from February 15-19, 2013.
To learn more about making it happen, available scholarships and to register, visit www.nfty.org/convention.