Every summer I return to my second home: Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. At camp, I enjoy playing sports, swimming in the lake, and more than anything, hanging out with my friends. One of the most amazing aspects of camp is the unmatched community. Being a Jewish camp we celebrate Shabbat, but every Thursday evening we begin to welcome in Shabbat in a unique way: through Mishmar. Mishmar is a special time where the three oldest aidot (age groups) gather and sing their hearts out in the darkness of the sifriya (library), lit only by string lights. I remember my very first Mishmar; I was stunned by how powerful singing can be. The songs often start very quiet and peaceful, building up to the loud, table-banging dynamic including everyone’s voices and energy. My first Mishmar I didn’t know many of the words so I hummed along, but I was so moved by the passionate singing; it was such a wow moment. Regardless of how beautiful my singing may (or may not) be, I felt so welcome and comfortable in that space.
As I mentioned, community is so important to me. I go to Jones College Prep, a Chicago Public School, where the Jewish population is not so significant. Something crucial to me was finding a comfortable Jewish community to meet more teens throughout the year while I’m not at camp. I’m thrilled to be a Springboard Peer Ambassador so that I can help other teenagers who are struggling to find their place find a great community they feel comfortable in. Additionally, I’m eager to meet more Jewish teens throughout the Chicago area and connect with them on a deeper level than playing Jewish Geography, no matter how entertaining that may be. I can’t wait to bring new people to amazing events throughout the area, and become a stronger, more confident leader.
The Peer Ambassador values that speak out to me the strongest are definitely leadership and community mindedness. Throughout this year, I truly hope to become a stronger leader, and engage teens in any way I can. I also hope to be inclusive to teens that may not yet feel comfortable going to events on their own. Keeping these values in mind, I will engage many new teens throughout the area and foster a genuine relationship with them.
About the Author: Sophie is a senior at Jones College Prep where she is the president of Jewish Student Connection. She likes playing lacrosse, flute, and piano in her free time, as well as hanging out with friends, bringing criminal minds, and reading. She regularly volunteers at the Lakeview Pantry and as a math tutor. She enjoys attending BBYO programs and is excited to be a Peer Ambassador to introduce new teens to great Jewish programs around the Chicago area.