Flyers
Make sure they are CLEAR and readable; be sure to double-check them before they go out in the mail or online.

Phone-drive
Teach phone techniques beforehand to be effective! It’s not as easy as it seems!

Email Chain
It’s cheaper than mail and far less time consuming.

Facebook Group
This may be your most effective way to reach many of your potential members.

Word of Mouth
Impress upon your youth group the importance of talking about your TYG to your friends.

Temple Bulletin
Have something about your youth group in every issue; increase your exposure to the people most likely to attend.

Letters to Parents
Getting parents on your side can be very important but keep in mind that some kids may want to do exactly the opposite of what the parent wants them to do.

Confirmation Class
Have members of the youth group present information about an upcoming event at the beginning of their next class.

Holiday Fun Package
Send a “fun package” connected to a Jewish holiday to the house of your potential members.

Personal Calls
From an advisor, teacher, rabbi; from someone who already knows them can help them feel more comfortable about coming to your next event.

High Holiday Youth Group Service
Offering an alternative to the main service for the youth of your synagogue emphasizes the importance of High Holiday worship and makes it a wonderful experience that they can share with their friends.

Junior Youth Programming is a very important factor in youth group membership
Kids who participate in Junior Youth programming are more likely to become active members of your TYG!

  • TYG members who bring in a new member, get into the event for free
  • Contests with existing members (ex. Whoever gets the most new members to come to an event, gets a prize)
  • Making events free, social, short at the beginning of the year
  • Offer Scholarships for more expensive events (talk to the clergy, temple sisterhood and brotherhood groups, etc.)
  • Start your planning early in the year and be organized.
  • Use all forms of communication to get the word out about the next event (email, online forums, phone, and snail mail as well as word of mouth)
  • Have a position on your board whose sole responsibility is to bring in new members (depending on the size and demographic of your youth group, this may simply be your Membership Vice President).
  • Schedule TYG events/meetings in conjunction with Hebrew School, to make it more convenient for people to attend

  • Ask new people their name and remember it; get to know them
  • Use name tags
  • Begin the event with a mixer
  • Group old and new people together
  • Use a buddy system; big brother big sister
  • Something that involves people interacting with one another, not just sitting and listening
  • Something structured; have an organized program
  • Have food there!!!
  • Give specific roles to specific people –maximize leadership opportunities.
  • Have a sign-in sheet to get names and addresses
  • Say at the event what, when and where the next event is
  • Hand out contact information for the TYG Board and advisor
  • Make sure your board really welcomes people
  • Do things that rely on something that happened previously
  • Do things that are too long
  • Plan things when it is difficult for people to attend
  • Use the same people for leaders over and over again
  • Let your board clique

  • Make sure names get on the mailing list
  • Target events to people specifically interested in those events
  • Send out a letter or email thanking them for attending, giving more info about upcoming events
  • Phone calls can make all the difference (see Phone Calls—DOs and DON’Ts)
  • If someone doesn’t come back, call and see why; keep track of who is attending
  • Pick out potential leaders and ask them to run events (new members and veterans should run an event together)

A Membership Exercise for TYG Boards

Program Goals

  • Participants will learn the art of welcoming new members and new potential members
  • Participants will learn that every aspect of how they communicate—tone of voice, body language, language choice—affects their “approachability quotient”
  • Participants will explore their own experiences with “fitting in,” and apply their experience to the welcoming of the stranger

Resources

What is a mixer?

A mixer is an ice breaking activity done at the beginning of an event to give people a chance to get to know and become comfortable with each other. They are often ridiculous games that are not intimidating for new people. Below is a list of entertaining mixers and explanations of how to do each one. To put these mixers into the NFTY Program Format, plug them into the Mixer Template, also found on this page.

Learn Mixers & Icebreaker Games!

Have people sit in a circle. Each person should say their name and which cartoon character they would date if they were, in fact, cartoon characters.  You can also have people say their favorite kind of cheese, favorite kitchen utensil, songs that would be the theme songs to the movies of their lives, what superpower they would want, first thing they would do if they were Harry Potter for a day, most embarrassing moment, favorite out-of-style fashion, the fake definition of what their name is backwards, etc.  This is a basic way to release much of the group’s tension, and is meant as an introductory activity.  (Materials: None.  Estimated Running Time: 5 minutes)

Have people sit in a circle. Each person should say their name and which cartoon character they would date if they were, in fact, cartoon characters.  You can also have people say their favorite kind of cheese, favorite kitchen utensil, songs that would be the theme songs to the movies of their lives, what superpower they would want, first thing they would do if they were Harry Potter for a day, most embarrassing moment, favorite out-of-style fashion, the fake definition of what their name is backwards, etc.  This is a basic way to release much of the group’s tension, and is meant as an introductory activity.  (Materials: None.  Estimated Running Time: 5 minutes)

Partners are to play one round of Rock Paper Scissor.  The winner moves on to compete further, while the loser follows him/her and cheers her on (becoming a groupie).  Every time that someone wins a round, their opponent and their opponent’s groupies become their groupies.  This process continues until there are only two people left.  The final round is two out of three.  PP’s are now back in one large group and can start a new program or play again.  (Materials: None.  Estimated Running Time 5-10 minutes.)

Each group has between 7-12 people. One person stands in the middle with everyone else standing shoulder to shoulder in a circle around him or her. The people on the outside must pass an apple around the circle without the person in the middle catching them. Each person must also try to take a bite of the carrot and swallow without being caught. The person in the center is continually guessing who has the apple. If someone is caught holding the apple, he or she switches with the person in the center.  The person in the middle when the apple is completely gone loses.  This game can also be played with carrots, zucchinis, cucumbers, etc.  (Materials: Several apples.  Estimated Running Time: 10-15 minutes.)

The group sits in a circle with one person standing in the center. That person says something about his or her name and something about his or her self. If someone has something in common with that person they stand up, interrupt them and say their name and what they have in common with that person. They continue about themselves until someone else interrupts them and so on and so forth.  (Materials: None.  Estimated Running Time: 5-15 minutes.)

Tells participants to face their partner and put their hands on their partner’s shoulders (kind of like middle-schoolers do at their dances).  The object of the game is to step on their partner’s feet as many times as possible.  First person to step on the other person’s feet 10 times wins.  Once game is complete, participants start over.  Have participants rotate after a few games.  (Materials: None.  Estimated Running Time: 5-10 minutes.)

Participants start back to back.  On the count of three participantss turn around (to face their partner) and grab a hold of their wrist, not their hand but their wrist (they should be holding the same hand i.e. their right).  After a minute or two, PPs try to tag the back of their partner’s opposite knee. (Demonstrate first).  Once a participant has tagged his or her partner, they keep trying until the GLL stops them to move onto the next mixer.  (Materials: None.  Estimated Running Time 5-10 minutes.)

Participants start back to back.  On the count of three, they turn around, cross their arms over their chests, lift one foot off the ground, and try to knock their partner off balance so they have to put their foot down. The goal is not to knock their partner down, and they may not use their free leg to kick the other person. Once they have succeeded in knocking their partner off balance, they keep trying to do it again until told to switch partners.  (Materials: None.  Estimated Running Time 5-10 minutes.)

Have participants choose a partner, introduce themselves, and discuss and demonstrate their favorite dance move (or make up a dance move together, time permitting).  Plays music and tells PP to dance in that style with their partner briefly.  When music stops, have participants start over with a new partner, each rotation should take no more than a minute.  Sample styles: salsa, cha-cha, freestyle, swing, slow, disco, rap, ballroom, line, etc.  (Materials:  music and some way to play it loudly such as iPod with sound system or boombox with cd.  Estimated Running Time: 10-20 minutes).

Before the participants arrive, blow up balloons for them and place a random word inside of it. When they get there, instruct them to form groups of 2 and hand each group one balloon. Partners must work together to pop the balloon using their bodies, not merely stomping on it. After they pop the balloon, they must come up with a funny story about the word and at the end, everyone must share their stories. (Materials: Strips of paper with random words, balloons.  Estimated Running Time: 10-20 minutes.)

Have everyone find a partner and move the group into a close, confined area and designate invisible boundaries calling it the “subway car.” Everyone must stay inside the subway car. Have one of the partners raise their hands and they are “It.” That person is to chase their partner without going out of the bounds. When the runner is tagged, they must spin in a circle shouting “I’m it, I’m it” so that their partner can run away. (Materials: small space.  Estimated Running Time: 5-10 minutes.) 

This is a cooperative version of "regular" tag. You should designate a few people to be "freezers". Then tell everyone else to scatter in all directions. The freezers count to ten, and then take off after the runners. Once they tag a runner that person becomes one of the freezers. A player is safe from being tagged only when he or she is hugging another player.  Players can only maintain a hug for 5 seconds.  (Materials: None.  Estimated Running Time: 5-10 minutes.)

Participants start back to back. On the count of three participantss turn around (to face their partner) and grab a hold of their wrist, not their hand but their wrist (they should be holding the same hand i.e. their right). After a minute or two, PPs try to tag the back of their partner’s opposite knee. (Demonstrate first). Once a participant has tagged his or her partner, they keep trying until the GLL stops them to move onto the next mixer. (Materials: None. Estimated Running Time 5-10 minutes.)

Each group must plan their own re-enactment of the Three Little Pigs to present to the group. But each group must act it out in a different style (examples-Opera, rap, western, Shakespearean, Film Noir, Jack Bauer, slo-mo, etc.)  Feel free to use any other children’s story.  (Materials: None.  Estimated Running Time: 15-20 minutes.)

Have everyone close their eyes.  The goal is to count to 30 with only one person speaking at a time.  You start over if two people say the number at the same time.  (Materials: None.  Estimated Running Time: 5-10 minutes).

Leader explains the significance of the necklaces to the group –participants can enjoy themselves and act normally, but the word “no” is banned for the rest of the night (except during programs).  If a participant says the word “no,” they forfeit all the necklaces they have to the participant whom they said “no” to.  At the end of the event (or night), whoever has the most necklaces wins a prize.  Encourage participants to approach those with more necklaces to make them say “no”, and even if an participant has lost all of their necklaces, they can still play to steal necklaces from those who have more.  (Materials: necklace per participant.  Estimated Running Time: full evening/night.)

Each participant will take one strip and will look to “assassinate” the person on the strip. To assassinate a target, a person must say the catchphrase (“Bang Bang, You’re Dead) to their target quiet enough that only their target can hear (if anyone else hears, the assassin “misses”). The target then gives their most recent target to the assassin, and this becomes the assassin’s new target. Here’s the twist: the person who was assassinated becomes the bodyguard for the person who killed them. If the person whom they are “protecting” is assassinated as well, they become the bodyguard of the person who assassinated them and so on (picture Groupie Rock-Paper-Scissors, such that by the end there will be a few assassins walking around each with their own entourage of bodyguards). The person to successfully “outlast” and “assassinate” all of their peers is the winner, and receives the prize at the end of the event. Explain that this game is not to be played during programs, meetings, or services.

More official version: To guarantee that the game moves forward and that there is only one winner, the creator should only include those who would like to play, and make a circle with everyone’s names (A-B-C-D-…-Y-Z-A). All other rules stay the same. (Materials: strips with participants’ names OR master list. Estimated Running Time: until the end of an event.)

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  • Caravan to Younger Grades and to the Confirmation Class
  • Sponsor an event for younger grades or the Confimation Class
  • Speak to your religious school director about running a program during religious school to acquaint potential members with the kind of programming done in your youth group.
  • Fall or Spring Open House
  • Make time to visit your junior youth group, religious school classes, and the confirmation class to share what it means to be a member of the youth group and information about upcoming events
  • Offer food in all presentations to potential members and make it casual and fun
  • Teaching Sessions for New Members
  • Combine a TYG event with a JYG event (or invite 8th graders to the final event of the year). Most of your potential members won’t understand how great your TYG can be unless you integrate them into your TYG community.

Have a meeting to teach new members to become familiar with the culture of your youth group:

  • Music sung during song sessions
  • Dance moves that go with particular songs
  • The NFTY Cheer
  • Blessings before and after the meal
  • Israeli Dances

Eespecially effective if you make this an annual event

Have an event just for the incoming 9th graders and new members from older grades run by the TYG board and 12th graders. This will provide an opportunity for the new members to meet and become familiar with the leaders and veterans of the TYG, and less intimidated about meeting new people. It can also provide the board and veterans with an opportunity to learn the names and something about the new members and ways to accommodate their needs.

Map out a series of clues that require teams to search for specific items that can be found in stores in your local shopping mall.

Divide participants into teams (be sure to have a mix of ages on each team)

Give each team a disposable camera (or digital camera if enough participants and board members are willing to use theirs)

For each item that the team has to find, instead of having them buy it, they need to have someone take a picture of their entire team holding the item

Be sure that everyone is familiar with the location and the boundaries

Do not ask participant to “find” anything obscene or that they may have difficulty finding

Make sure there is someone in a central location in case a team has a question or requires help.

The first group to complete the scavenger hunt and have their film developed at the local one-hour photo store wins!

People always feel good about being involved when they are doing something that helps others:

  • Help out at your local soup kitchen or food pantry
  • Visit your local nursing home
  • Offer to help around the Temple – is there an upcoming event that requires extra hands? Can the youth group help beautify the temple grounds by planting or cleaning them up?

*It may be as simple as having mixers at the beginning of each event, you need to make sure that the new members are meeting people and are a part of the community.