For most, getting on a plane and going to an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people can be intimidating. For all, attending CLTC, BBYO’s Chapter Leadership Training Conference, is the experience of a lifetime.
CLTC is a 12-day program which allows Alephs and BBGs to come together, gain priceless leadership experience, create diverse friendships, gain self-confidence, and delve deeper into their Jewish pride.
Before attending CLTC, I was confused as to why so many people raved about it nonstop. The phrases, "the best experience ever, the best days of my life," were constantly repeated. I thought about it, how could 12 short days possibly impact them this much; it was unfathomable. Hearing my home friends’ stories about summer programs made me consider attending, but I never thought it would become a reality. The constant reminiscing of their memories made me feel as though something was missing from my BBYO experience, and this was the missing piece.
Attending CLTC 1 2018, I finally understood the true impact. Arriving in Wisconsin, I was immediately greeted with the friendly and smiling faces of people I’ve never met before. That’s the special thing about BBYO: no matter where you are, or who you are with, the inclusive and comforting environment is a constant. Little did I know, these people would soon become my mentors and best friends.
BBYO Summer Experiences are based on the fundamentals of leadership. Throughout CLTC, during entertaining workshops and group activities, the ideals of true leadership are demonstrated and thoroughly taught. Leadership is crucial in every aspect of the world; being able to gain these priceless experiences so early on in life is advantageous.
Not only did this adventure allow me to grow as a leader, but also to further understand my Jewish identity. Participating in numerous services and activities showed me how Judaism is prevalent in multiple aspects of my life. During the 12 days, I was able to go hands-on and collaborate with my friends to plan different aspects of Shabbat; we planned different Friday night programs, as well as morning Shacharit services. These opportunities opened me up to different aspects of Judaism that I would’ve never been exposed to otherwise. At CLTC, we took unique spins on classic things. One morning, instead of having a traditional service, we went on a nature walk throughout camp. It’s the little things like these that truly enhanced my experience.
Sure, I gained crucial leadership skills and developed a better understanding of my Judaism, but what really made this the unforgettable experience that it was, were my friends. Branching from all over the country, I had the opportunity to meet and connect with teens just like myself. Together we laughed, learned, and made memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. From the late night talks with my roommates, to the eno and chofesh chats, to banging on the tables at meals, to the never-ending song sessions, the memories I created with my best friends are unforgettable. Whether it be a shoulder to cry on or a laugh to share, I am fortunate to be able to say I have a community, a new family, who will always be there for me.
You never truly understand the amazing adventure your friends had until you get to experience it first-hand. I am so thankful and appreciative for these experiences and memories, and to finally understand what my friends meant when they said, “the best experience ever”.
Thanks to the supportive staff, amazing madrichim, and my 54 best friends for giving me the summer of a lifetime. I know I will carry the valuable lessons and experiences from CLTC with me forever.
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Sophie Gaer is a proud BBG from L’Olam BBG in Gold Coast Region. You can find her with a camera in her hand, drinking iced coffee, or dribbling down the court.
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