Parent Pulse

Parent Pulse is a bi-monthly newsletter for BBYO member parents to help keep up to date with goings on across the Order. For nearly a century, parents have trusted us to provide a safe space in which their teens can thrive, and Parent Pulse offers an insider’s glimpse into those spaces every other month. Take a look through our past issues here!

Issue 11 | May 2021

Welcome Note | Around the Order | Wellness Corner | Trending Now | Coming Up Soon | In Their Words


Dear BBYO Parents,

This spring has brought a sense of rejuvenation to the BBYO Movement with hybrid conventions, elections, and excitement for our upcoming summer offerings. While we’ve adjusted our approach, our priorities remain the same, engaging teens in high-quality, fun, and innovative programming, nurturing new friendships and maintaining peer-to-peer connections. 

We have so much to celebrate as we head into the final months of the year. Close to 4,000 teens have participated in chapter and regional programs using our virtual On Demand platform. Over 8,000 teens across 25 different countries and 150 cities made a difference in their local communities by participating in 300+ J-Serve events during the month of April. Around 2,400 teens from 22 regions participated in Spring Conventions the weekend of April 23–25, with more Conventions taking place throughout the month of May. Chapters, councils, and regions are electing new teen leaders throughout the Movement, and we are eagerly awaiting the moment we will welcome them at the AZA BBG International August Executives Conference. One of our members said it best:

“I was blown away with how engaged I could be with the BBYO community virtually, where I could see 300+ teens praying/singing songs along with me. I was impressed by how many options I could choose from to have the best experience possible.”

Looking ahead to summer, BBYO is working to bring back that sense of “normalcy” with our energizing slate of domestic leadership and Israel travel experiences. We have options for teens of all ages and whether at camp, an outdoor journey, or in a new country a BBYO summer is an experience to remember.

We wish you all a wonderful spring and summer ahead!

Matt Lemchen and Celia Livshin
Area Directors, Community Impact



Parent Education Series Recordings | BBYO’s Wellness and Inclusion Council hosted a two-part digital series for parents. The first session was led by Drew Fidler, Director of the BBYO Center for Adolescent Wellness, and Rabbi Dana Saroken of Congregation Beth El in Baltimore, Maryland. This session taught parents how to best care for themselves and their teens as we re-enter a post-COVID world. The second session was led by Nicole Glick, PsyD, focusing on the unique needs and stresses faced by teens, and strategies to raise resilient teens. You can watch the video recordings here.

Senior Celebration | We’re celebrating this year’s senior class at! And remember, graduation isn’t goodbye. As a lifetime member of BBYO, your teen has complete access to our growing friends and alumni network, exclusive perks from our friends and partners, as well as chances to join us for leadership development opportunities and events. ​Check out our alumni hub so your teen can always stay connected with us post high school graduation.

Summer Parent Opportunities | We are looking for camp nurses (RN) and licensed mental health professionals to spend a few weeks with us in Pennsylvania this summer! Short sessions are available, and room/board and travel are covered. Interested in this role or know somebody who may be? Please contact [email protected] or visit ; for all the details.



May is Mental Health Awareness Month—a time to raise awareness about mental health challenges, break the stigma of talking about mental health, challenge assumptions, and build safe and supportive environments. As parents, you play a critical role not only in recognizing challenges in your teens, but helping to eliminate barriers, get support, and create safe spaces.

You know your teens best and are among the first to notice when something may be amiss or help is needed. Adolescence is a time fraught with physical, mental, emotional, and social changes; they can often feel like a roller-coaster for teens and for their parents. These shifts can also make it challenging to know when something is typical teen behavior, and when support or help may be needed. Some of the red flag behaviors to keep an eye out for are:

  • Signs of sadness and/or withdrawal from social situations (in person or virtual)
  • Difficulty with or neglect of basic self-care, personal hygiene, etc.
  • Significant changes in sleeping habits
  • Not eating, throwing up, or using laxatives to lose weight
  • Sudden, overwhelming fear and/or avoiding certain environments, situations, or social interactions altogether
  • Extreme mood swings or irritability
  • Expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Self-harming (cutting or burning) behaviors or threatening to hurt or kill themselves or others

A vital piece of helping our teens is communication. Having conversations about challenges and stress, behaviors you are seeing, and normalizing seeking help, lets teens know they can talk to you and seek support from you when they are struggling. Research has shown that having one safe adult is vital for building resiliency in youth. While it is wonderful if that safe adult is a parent, it may also be an aunt, uncle, grandparent, teacher, family friend, or someone else. Let your teen know that seeking out and having safe adults is important and help them think about who can play that role in their lives.

Parents play a constant key role in the mental health and resilience of their teens, but we can all use the month of May as an opportunity to check in with our teens, see how they are doing, and start the conversation about their mental health. Need help getting started with the conversation? Visit the Seize the Awkward for some conversation starters and tips, for more resources and information, or watch BBYO’s recent two-part parent education series on supporting you and your teen through the stress of re-entry.



In this edition of Trending Now, we’re sharing the latest updates on popular quarantine hobbies, how companies are getting creative with how they show care for the environment, and whether young consumers think it’s a good idea for brands to promote COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Quarantine Hobbies | In the past year, hobbies have become more important than ever as teens sought new ways to occupy their time during the quarantine and connect with others even while isolated. The top six hobbies that emerged among Gen-Z and millennial consumers are:

  1. Gaming
  2. Music/playing an instrument
  3. Sports
  4. Drawing/painting
  5. Reading
  6. Watching TV/streaming

Ninety-four percent of 13 to 39-year-olds play video games at some capacity, so it isn’t all that surprising that it tops the list as their biggest hobby.

Recycling and Upcycling | Young people’s expectations for brands to help combat climate change remains high, with over 80 percent of 13 to 39-year-olds saying that corporations have a responsibility to address the issue head-on. More companies are getting creative with the ways they’re showing care for the environment and promoting the steps they’re taking towards sustainability. One of the brands that stands out is JanSport. First, the company found ways to support young people’s mental health with their #LightenTheLoad campaign and now, they’re launching two new sustainable, recycled collections. Across the board, recycling and upcycling have been especially popular among fashion brands looking to get greener.

Brands Promoting Vaccines? | Over the past few months, we’ve seen more brands rolling out campaigns rewarding vaccinated consumers—but do young people think brands should be promoting the COVID-19 vaccine? The answer is yes (mostly). Sixty-two percent of 14 to 34-year-olds say brands should encourage people to get vaccinated, compared to 38 percent who think that brands should not get involved. This shouldn’t come as a complete surprise; in a survey last year, most 13 to 39-year-olds said that brands have just as much responsibility as everyone else in helping to stop the spread of the virus. Among those who want brands to promote vaccinations, 90 percent of respondents say they are planning to or have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine already.



If you’ve put off making summer plans, now is the time! Summer is just around the corner, and we can’t wait to welcome your teen to one of our in-person Summer Leadership Experiences. After a difficult year, give your teen the summer they deserve by signing them up for CLTC, ILTCKallah, Movement Makers, or Camp BBYO. Any experience they choose is perfect for creating tight bonds with new friends, kickstarting their leadership development skills, and strengthening their Jewish identity. Space is filling fast, so if your teen is interested in one of our summer experiences, don’t delay.

As always, your teen’s safety is our number one focus, and we've been hard at work developing plans for keeping our participants, staff, and families healthy this summer. Visit the Special Policies & Procedures to learn more. As always, we will continue to update our protocols based on the recommended guidelines issued by the CDC, as well as federal and local state governments, and you’ll always be the first to know should changes arise.

You can learn a little more about our programs here—visit our website for more:

CLTC  Five sessions to choose from | At CLTC, teens will discover what it means to be a leader and attain lifelong leadership skills. They’ll gain greater self-confidence, a sense of Jewish pride, and a community of diverse friendships, while enjoying new hobbies, sports competitions, celebrating Shabbat, and more!

ILTC – June 24–July 12 | ILTC empowers teens to raise their voice and realize their potential through peer leadership. They’ll further develop their leadership abilities, learn how to shape a worldwide movement, and gain invaluable skills in effective team collaboration, communication strategies, and relationship building.

Kallah – July 14–August 3 | Teens will take Jewish learning beyond the traditional classroom to the field, stage, and under the stars at Kallah. They'll explore their Jewish identity alongside a diverse community of friends and educators. They’ll also enjoy electives like music, cooking, photography, and sports, to name a few!

Movement Makers – August 5–16 | Teens will take their leadership to the next level through enhancing collaboration and communication skills. Small group and classic camp activities make this the perfect way to grow and have fun.​

Camp BBYO – August 5–12 | Is your teen ready to get back in the great outdoors and connect with friends this summer? Camp BBYO is ready for them! This all-new program offers an entire week of the very best of BBYO, including swimming, music, sports, art, and the ultimate Shabbat experience.



This special Mental Health Awareness Month edition of In Their Words comes from Lior Kolman, a 16-year-old BBG from South Africa. Lior loves partaking in outreach programs to give back to her community.

As a 16-year-old girl living in South Africa amidst a global pandemic, my mental health has suffered. If I look back at myself pre-COVID, I had no idea the severity and true understanding of mental health. As lockdown started and my mental health started deteriorating, I began to understand it all and found a new love and passion for educating and spreading awareness of mental health.

When I started to look at all the BBYO International Leadership Networks I could join, the Mental Health Taskforce immediately caught my attention. The Taskforce gave me an opportunity and a platform to educate and support my peers—to help make other teens aware of the impact of mental health challenges, and be a part of an accepting group that is helping to break down the stigma of challenges.

Within the Taskforce, we aim to create a safe space for teens experiencing mental health challenges and for those who may be concerned about a friend or have another person in their lives who is experiencing a mental health challenge. The Taskforce creates programs to promote self-love and resiliency, break the stigma surrounding mental health that causes so many to suffer in silence, and share tools for coping and being a safe a supportive friend. My goal as a lead in this taskforce is to spread awareness on mental health, have a safe space for every teen, and promote all the love we can, both in one’s self and to one’s peers.

As a movement, BBYO has a great opportunity to support all teens regardless of challenges. One year ago, I was drowning in my anxiety. BBYO was my saving grace, the place I was understood and accepted. I now take it upon myself to pass this on, knowing firsthand the impact it can have. I, along with the rest of the Mental Health Taskforce, strive to create that place where any teen dealing with a mental health challenge can be understood, accepted, and supported.