Archive for the 'Members' Category

The 3:00am Dillema

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Yesterday this thoughtful comment was posted in response to my recent post “The Convention Game“. This post is in response to you (who posted the comment) and anyone in your situation:

As a current regional leader, I feel that it is the regional board’s job to regulate their peers’ actions before getting the staff involved. Unless someone is going to be seriously injured, I’d rather kick boys out of a cabin myself and stay quiet than alert a staff member and have harsher than necessary actions taken, especially for a first offense.

That’s one of the toughest calls to make. I know the “official” answer: that you should have notified staff, but you and I both know it’s not so simple – “just following orders” is never a sufficient answer, even if it’s orders by your regional director.

Here’s one suggestion though: (more…)

The Convention Game

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

I’ve staffed many regional conventions. Generally I’ve enjoyed them except for one part – the “game” that seems to get played at night. What is the game? Call it, if you will “let’s see if we can break the rules and not get caught.” Whether it’s drugs or alcohol, or sneaking into each others rooms (girls in guys cabins and vice versa), or going out and doing various pranks, it seems to happen to various degrees at many conventions. Sometimes the regional board joins in (or worse, instigates the activities).

Most members don’t even understand why this is a problem. I’ve heard individuals explain “pot isn’t even as bad as tobacco”, “we were just hanging out – nothing happened”, “it’s just a harmless prank – it’s traditional”.

And they are right – but in being right they completely miss the point.


What Has AZA Done for You?

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

I’ve heard a lot of speeches in BBYO. Election speeches, States and Midstates. I’ve read even more (since it’s quite common now for regional and even board officers to prepare their speeches on computer and Email or post them on web sites). Most are pretty good. Some are rather depressing (particularly the “I know I didn’t do anything all last year on regional board” variety), some are motivating, some are analytical, some just wishful thinking.

Earlier today I received a document from Boaz Avital, an outgoing regional board member from CRW that was, above all, true.

Now, I don’t know if you can tell from reading this site, but I’m a big fan of truth. I can’t say I always like the truth – it’s often unpleasant. But I respect the truth, and I believe that the best way to make progress is to see things for what they really are, not what people say they are, and not the way people wish they would be.

Boaz does this well, and I thank him for the opportunity to publish it here. I encourage you all to read it.

Download What Has AZA Done for You?

To Board or Not to Board

Friday, April 13th, 2007

One of the great dilemmas that any BBYO member faces is whether or not to run for chapter board. Given that springtime is election season for many chapters, this seems a good time to visit this topic.

So what are board members anyway? I know what you’re thinking – they are the members who are elected to lead the chapter.

Uh, actually, they aren’t.

Certainly you would hope that those who aren’t on board have leadership opportunities as well. In fact, I often find that non-board members are some of the strongest leaders in the chapter, not just in terms of planning great events, but in terms of general influence over the chapter. And sad to say, there are also cases where members who are elected to a board position end up doing very little in terms of leadership (or even their job).

I’ve never seen being elected to a board office magically turn anyone into a leader. It does often provide the challenge and opportunity to gain those skills, but by and large those elected to offices are those who have already demonstrated leadership ability, or a least the desire to gain such.

So what are board members?

They are the members who are chosen to take, and have agreed to take personal responsibility for the operation of the chapter.

Members can be great leaders on and off board. And they can plan great programs on and off board. But with a board position comes two great gifts – the gift of responsibility, and the opportunity to make a commitment.

It is this that perhaps distinguishes BBYO from any other youth group (Jewish or other). BBYO board members can carry more responsibility and authority than teens in any other environment I can think of. In fact, they can carry greater responsibility and authority than many adults do.

If you are an Aleph or BBG who is not running for board because you are too busy, too lazy, or too afraid to run, please reconsider. Talk to your advisor about it. It could exactly what you and your chapter really needs. And if you are Aleph or BBG who is planning on running just because you want a fancy title and know you aren’t going to do much, please don’t run – leave the opportunity to someone who can truly gain from the experience and will take the opportunity and responsibility seriously.

And for those who run and don’t make it, don’t fret – a healthy chapter will offer numerous other opportunities for you to have an impact and show your stuff. Take those opportunities, and a board spot will likely follow.

The Other Side of Policy

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

I’ve been following the “Not On My Watch” Facebook forum, and came to realize that in all the arguments, there’s one aspect of the policy discussion that has not come up at all – and as a result certain assumptions are being accepted that may not be true. This is a side of policy that is not “supposed” to be raised with the members at all (advisors I’ve spoken to have been told not to bring it up). And it’s true, in an ideal world this issue should not be of concern to members. However, since it does impact members and chapters, it’s only fair that members be aware of it. And who better than a ghost to do so?

Many of the comments on the Facebook forum have been, how shall I put it, a bit “rebellious”. Members and alumni have talked about how we shouldn’t stress over bad policies because they can just be ignored or broken as they have in the past. And they are right – a lot of regions and chapters have played pretty fast and loose with policy for a very long time. But that does not mean this will continue. A recent post by a chapter S’gan hinted at this, as he described the difficulty he’s had getting people to sign up for a local convention because of the enforcement of driving policy and the requirement to register on B-Linked.

So today let me bring you to other side of policy – how it’s seen by advisors (and in many cases regional staff) – and why rules that were “breakable” in the past, may not be so flexible in the future.


The Flaws of International Board Elections

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

My current understanding of how the International Board is elected is as follows:  Candidates caucus at International Convention, and are given limited time to have a “Meet the Candidates” and give speeches and answer questions.  Regions are then allowed to vote.  Votes are allocated to regions based on their size, and ballots given to the regions.  The region then votes, choosing 5 delegates.  The 5 delegates are chosen with Regional Board going first, then Chapter Godols, then Regional Chairmen, then other attendees.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, 5 people from your region are allowed to vote on the candidates for I-Board, and those 5 candidates alone.  I will not even go into the philosophical argument of a Trustee voter vs. a Delegate voter, for you do not even need to think that hard to begin realizing the flaws of this system.


Not on my watch

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

With IC coming up, I suppose it’s not surprising that BBYO members and alumni are again turning their attention to the mysterious evolution of BBYO policy and the role of youth leadership (or lack thereof) in discussing it ahead of implementation.

What is surprising is where the discussion has moved to – it seems to have made its way to Facebook where a remarkable 80+ members from across the country have joined in a single day.


Funny Policy Proposals

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Sometimes lawmakers, in their focus to solve a problem, end up writing laws that to outsiders seem ridiculous – laws that quickly end up as fodder for comedy central. While we can’t predict whether any of the forthcoming BBYO policies will be entertaining in that way, we can certainly speculate.

For example, imagine if we had access to the super top-secret proposed policy draft – the one presented at Staff conference. You know, the one that every staff member was sworn on a pile of blue books not to reveal to mere members or advisors on pain of torture. If we had a copy, we might find a number of humorous proposals…



Monday, January 29th, 2007

18,000 – That’s this year’s membership target for BBYO. May not sound like much until you consider the Jewish teen population in the U.S. is estimated at between 200 and 250 thousand. Reaching 7% of that number would certainly be an impressive accomplishment. But is it enough?

Or specifically – is it enough to satisfy the community leaders, foundations and donors who provide BBYO with its financial support? Certainly not.

You all know that even with the increase in membership fees, BBYO comes nowhere close to being supported by those fees, right? So BBYO must satisfy those donors.

That means an increase in membership is necessary.

How can this be accomplished?


How Big is Too Big?

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

With the increased focus on engagement, recruitment and numbers, it makes sense to consider for a moment what is the best size for a chapter. Not that there is any one right answer. Rather, it’s important to consider the tradeoffs of various chapter sizes. To understand these tradeoffs, let’s consider two chapters, one with about 20 members, another with about 50.