You can learn an awful lot about the health of a youth group or a NFTY region by asking the president and advisor what they think of one another. You may hear that “my advisor is amazing – they really understand teens” or that “my president is so passionate and committed to our TYG.” Or you might hear “my advisor is always taking over” or “my teens don’t get their work done on time.” The relationships between the teens and adults that are stakeholders in our congregational and regional youth programs are paramount to the health and success of the programs we run and the communities that we build.
At NFTY-SAR’s recent leadership kallah (gathering), the advisors and presidents did a short workshop together to begin the work of examining the partnerships between teens and adults. First, we had the teens and adults meet in separate rooms. They were given the task of creating a list of all the aspects of running their youth group for which the OTHER group was responsible. The teens made a list of what they thought adults were in charge of, and the adults discussed what they thought teens were responsible for. After a few minutes, we paused their conversations and traded lists. They were then told to circle things that either they agreed with, disagreed with, or were surprised by.
We intentionally left out any instruction about the things for which they shared responsibility. But of course, our teens and adults in SAR are smart, and they quickly created their own way to indicate which items they were jointly responsible for. What was truly remarkable was not so much the content of the lists, but rather the amount of honest, enthusiastic discussion that was sparked by them. Our goal with this exercise was to get the teens and adults talking about their partnerships, and to that end we were very successful.
We told the teens and adults at the beginning of this workshop that it was really just going to be an introduction to what we hoped would be a much larger conversation that they would continue at home. To help with this, we gave each teen and adult a worksheet to guide a more thorough conversation about each other’s roles and how they plan to work together this year. As we start 5779 and think about all of the relationships we hold sacred in our lives, we hope you will find this resource valuable to use in your own youth program.
NFTY-SAR Regional Director
NFTY-SAR Regional President