Most Jewish Young Adults of today have participated in some type of informal Jewish Education, usually in through summer camps, weekend conventions with youth groups, or Israel trips. But what is unique about JYAs is that many of them have also voluntarily decided to go back to these institutions, frequently well into their mid-30s, in counselor positions, long after their tenure as a camper has ended.
The question remains, why would a JYA freely choose to isolate themselves in a remote wooded corner with no WiFi, sleeping in musty cramped bunks, drinking “bug juice”, and dealing 24/7 with horny teenagers?
Most JYAs will publicly state that their penchant for returning to their childhood stomping grounds is based on quaint reminiscing of good times past, or a genuine desire to contribute and shape young minds. But there are also deeper, more personal reasons why JYAs continue to spend the summer months in log cabins.
One possible explanation is that JYAs see being a counselor as a “Booty Redo”, effectively a second chance to hook up with all of those who passed them over when they were campers. Another possible explanation is that many JYAs simply don’t have anything better to do, and see being a counselor as a quick two month escape from the day to day reality of perennial underemployment, living with their parents, quarter life crisis, or whatever else plagues the JYA.
In this vein, it is safe to assume that JYA participation as camp counselors will continue to rise in the coming years due to a few factors. First, JYAs are continuing to delay “real life” as much as possible. Second, the economic situation has given a lot of JYAs extra free time due to higher unemployment. Third, the desire to hook up and be kissy face with random people well into your thirties is stronger than ever.
It is important to note that being a counselor for a Birthright trip is a subgroup of this same topic, with the same underlying reasons. The only difference is that the impetus to hook up is much stronger as Birthright participants are all of legal age, whereas in summer camp only the other counselors are typically of legal age.
(note the Nalgene Bottle, indicating probable JYA)