CTeen Leadership Retreat; Inspiring, Motivational, Connecting

6 years ago Leighest 0

Stepping onto the bus, I could already feel the energy feeding off of my fellow leaders, preparing for an inspiring, motivational weekend ahead of us. The retreat was filled with seminars, learning, discussions, and self-exploring. The seminars we had were not your “average” seminar (but then again, when does Chabad ever go the average route?) We were not boringly told, “This is how to be a leader”. Rather, we were given advice, personal experiences, and Torah lessons to guide us to reach our potential.

Seminars consisted of learning to look out for others, the power of network, the power of youth, how to make an impact, working as a team, and many more topics. At one session, we were given time to “vent”, share our struggles we were having with our chapters and ask for help. Once someone shared a setback, numerous hands shot up from fellow leaders to offer advice through personal experiences, or an idea they had just thought of. One of the biggest lessons I learned was that a leader doesn’t always have to “lead”. A good leader delegates, gives others the chance to take charge, and leads selflessly.

Shabbos night- Rabbi Shaus Taub farbrengened for the teens about how to be self-less. While numerous lessons were taught, I took away one special thought. Rabbi started to speak about pain and suffering and what they mean. He explained that pain is an immediate reaction to harm, while suffering comes after. Suffering is what you get from thinking too much about the pain, and nothing good can come from it. He used stepping on a Lego as an example. You feel the discomfort right away- this is the pain. Afterwards, you start to think, “Oh why does this always happen to me”, “I’m so stupid, I should have looked where I stepped”- this is suffering. But suffering can be completely avoided just by saying, “hey, things happen”. This concept really made me think about my life and my feelings and how I go about things.

But it wasn’t just the scheduled talks that had an impact. It was the behind the scenes conversations that really stuck to me. One night, I sat down with one of the staff members and we started to have small talk, which slowly turned into a deep discussion. I shared with her struggles I had been having with my family, friends, and the act of taking on more mitzvot. As she sat there, listening contently to every complaint I had, I felt like weight was lifted off my shoulders. Every problem I had, she would voice back a solution, and words of encouragement. I had met her just a mere three days before, yet I felt connected to her, I felt like she genuinely cared for me and wanted to help.

During the retreat, time was set-aside for us to meet with Leah and discuss this year’s upcoming shabbaton. This was one of my favorite parts of the whole retreat. How many youth organizations look to teens to help plan an international convention for at least 1,000 teens? We were given the control to share our ideas freely and “makeover the shabbaton”. CTeen doesn’t just say “Power of Youth”- they really do give the power to the youth.

On the leadership retreat I gained a better understanding of what it means to be an effective leader. I learned how to positively affect others around me and that being an example for other teens is essential in making a difference. I gained a deeper appreciation for the opportunities that CTeen provides me. During the short time, I grew as an individual, became self-aware, and learned the keys to being a positive influence on others. By the end of the retreat, I felt motivated and properly prepared on how to successfully lead back home. I was ecstatic to bring all the new ideas I had learned and put my own twist on them to help benefit my chapter.

This weekend I experienced a series of emotions — motivation, pride, love, satisfaction, but most important, I was inspired to make a difference in the world. I was truly shown the power of youth, and how we are the next generation. It is up to us teens to carry on the Jewish peoples’ customs and make a good name for Jews all around the world. CTeen makes me want to be a better person, and do better for the world. I realized that it is not just about saying we will make a difference, it is all about doing.