5 Ways to Make People Feel Included at NFTY Kallot
By: Nadine Katz: NFTY-NAR President 5782-5783 & Erica O’Donnell: NFTY-NE President 5782-5783
This past weekend, we both got the spectacular opportunity of co-leading a NFTY Winter Kallah at URJ Eisner Camp. This was the biggest event that either region has led this year, with a total of 122 amazing teens in attendance. We had teens from Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and more states travel all the way out to Eisner, brought simply by their love of NFTY.
The programs were led by teen leaders on the regional boards. Participants felt more comfortable and connected with teens around their age, making us more approachable. Teens met new friends and were brought out of their comfort zone, which helped them grow as individuals throughout the weekend.
The weekend had a huge impact on everyone there. Not only did the boards get to meet and work with some of the most incredible teen leaders from different regions, but everyone got to meet people who were equally as into NFTY as they were. People who had never met before Winter Kallah left each other with hugs, tears, and promises to keep in touch.
Both boards ran an exceptionally inspiring event, we could not be more proud or thankful for the opportunity we were given. Thank you NFTY for allowing us to meet such special people. Being able to lead the future of Jewish youth has been so rewarding, and we can’t wait to see where NFTY goes in the future.
As NFTY leaders across North America continue to engage teens at upcoming Kallot, here are five ways we learned that helped everyone feel included at our Kallah:
- Shabbat dinner and mixers first – Shabbat services can be pretty intimidating. So, we pushed services to the end of the night and had dinner and mixers first. This helped everyone feel comfortable and connected as they were settled in and getting to meet the people they would spend the weekend with.
- Table mixers – We also assigned tables that first night so no one was left wondering who they would sit with. The first two meals were assigned and the rest were free seating. We have had assigned seating for dinner and breakfast at all of our past events, as it helps to mix up groups who might already know each other. We switched to free seating at lunch on Saturday, so that people can have some free time to spend with their new friends.
- Stickers on name tags – In NFTY-NE, there is a tradition where people bring stickers to decorate everyone’s name tags at the beginning of the event. It’s a fun way to get people engaged without a lot of pressure.
- Humble leadership – The regional board should be an approachable group that helps people enjoy the event beyond just programming. Be proud of your work as a teen leader, but remember that everyone else is just as important in the NFTY space as you are.
- Assigning groups during programming – Like with table groups, this created new bonds to be formed, and for those who came into the event with less friends, this allowed them to come out of their comfort zone, and make new friends during the board-led programming.