The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
It’s one thing to be standing in front of a room when you know more than everyone else; it’s entirely different to be educating a group of people who know as much, if not more, than you do. It is scary, your heart is racing, and you feel like you could never possibly be equipped to handle whatever you’ve been tasked with.
But the room is filled with energy and passion, and people know as much as you do because they care as much as you do. And so they ask questions and answer questions. They help each other talk things through and figure things out. In this room, I can be okay with not knowing everything.
This summer, I had the responsibility of leading a program about civic engagement for a group of college-aged summer camp staff. As a member of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s (RAC) Civic Engagement Campaign College and Camp Staff Engagement team, I was one link in a chain of program leaders at URJ camps across North America, all focused on educating and engaging young and first-time voters. Together with my colleagues, Mikey Pliskin and Evan Traylor, I led the URJ Kutz Camp staff in a dialogue and discovered that they were some of the most passionate and informed young voters I had ever met. Staff members asked thought-provoking questions and engaged in conversations about voter disenfranchisement, the Jewish value of voting, voting history, and more. Their energy engaged not only those who were less politically inclined, but also our international staff, who curiously inquired about American voting trends, identification laws, and other national issues we are tackling as we go into the 2018 mid-term elections.
I was impressed by the knowledge that our staff members have on politics, encompassing both current events and the legal logistics of the way our country runs. More importantly, I was overwhelmed by the excitement in the room of young voters ready to voice their opinions and shape the future of our country.
As we signed our voter pledge cards, it became clear that we will be informed voters. We will be the ones who order our absentee ballots weeks in advance. We will be the first ones in line for the early voting polls. We will be the ones wearing our “I voted” stickers proudly on our chests, because we will be the ones who sat together in a room at Kutz when I handed out the RAC’s “I will vote” stickers. We will be the ones who make this country look like what we want it to look like because we will be informed, we will be committed, we will be passionate, and we will be proud of this country. We can’t wait to vote. Will you join us?
Lauren Stock is a Resident Advisor at the URJ Kutz Camp. She is a sophomore at Wesleyan University and is originally from Dallas, Texas.