The Convention Game

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?

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

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.