By Avi Remetz, BESTY Advisor
After graduating from Temple University in Spring 2013, I was offered the position of Director of Youth and Family Programs at Congregation Beth Emeth in Wilmington, Delaware. When I first started here, there was no teen youth group program. It was my duty to change this, which is something I set as a personal goal. By the end of the school year I wanted to have a full teen board for our youth group BESTY. Recently, I’m proud to say I accomplished this goal and here’s how.
I’ll admit building up a TYG wasn’t an easy task to complete. My first couple events were not well attended, which really disappointed me. I planned what I thought were two fun events. However I quickly realized my flaw. I was planning AT the teens, and not WITH the teens. I was assuming that the teens would want to attend these events, without even asking them if these events interested them. After a while of getting to know everyone, and asking what they wanted to do I was able to come up with a couple programs, a shul-in, a mall scavenger hunt, and laser tag. All of which were better attended because it was events that the teens wanted to attend.
The most important thing I feel in building up a TYG was connecting with the students. I made myself available to them, shared some secrets with them, and really connected with them. I wanted these teens to know I wasn’t a rabbi or their parents. I was somebody that they could come to and ask or talk about whatever they wanted and not feel judged or lectured. Once a relationship was established and the teens started to feel more and more comfortable with me they started to attend more events. This is what helped build a strong TYG.
I’ve learned in order to create and uphold a strong Temple Youth Group, you need to establish a relationship with those involved in the youth group and have them help plan events. Another important thing to remember is to not give up! Even if only a couple people attend an event, if they have a good time then they’ll come back with a friend to the next event. As the saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and the same goes for TYG’s it takes time, patience, commitment, trust, and understanding to build a great TYG.