Funding and supporting Jewish youth programs make a difference in a life like Ellie Vogel’s.
For Ellie, Camp BB and BBYO have strengthened her Jewish roots and connected her to teens in Calgary and Edmonton. The 16-year-old has been going to Camp BB for nine summers. She still remembers her first camp experience.
“I had so much fun. I had stayed for a week for my first summer and I wanted to stay longer. My parents didn’t want me to because I was only seven. I immediately had a connection with the people there. It already feels like home even if it’s your first time going just because of the community,” she says.
Over the summers at camp, Ellie built strong friendships and relationships. Last summer she was a counsellor in training, and she plans to apply to work as staff this summer.
“As you get older, your experiences at camp change. It’s fun. Your favourite parts of camp always change. When you are younger, it’s about the cool things you get to do and when you are older, it’s about the people you get to see. You get to spend the summer with your best friends,” she says.
Her experience at Camp BB helped her to understand why it’s important to have programs for youth. “It keeps you in touch with the Jewish culture. The cultural aspects are so important to keep. It keeps your roots strong. It shows you all the beautiful things about it like doing Havdalah. Keeping our traditions and culture makes us strong,” says Ellie.
The connections from camp easily flow through to her experiences with BBYO. She sees many of the same friends from camp at BBYO programs but also makes new friends. Ellie also gains leadership skills from what she learns at BBYO and her role as a CIT at camp. Currently, she is the BBYO chapter president for the girls in Edmonton.
When Ellie thinks of Jewish life beyond the youth programming she is involved in, she desires to continue to connect with others in the community. “I think the roots I have gotten from BBYO and camp will keep my Jewish roots strong enough to find Jewish groups wherever I am.”
As part of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton’s strategic plan, one of the organization’s roles is to be the connector through engagement and education.
The Federation hosted an evening of profiling youth programs to help parents connect with these Jewish organizations and agencies. Recently, the Federation helped link parents to all Edmonton rabbis to discuss options for b’nei miztvahs. If you need community resources for your family, the Federation can help. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.