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Archive for July, 2009

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.

camp counselor2(note the Nalgene Bottle, indicating probable JYA)

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#84 James Taylor

JamesTaylorMost young adults tend to shy away from the musical interests of their parents, paving their own ground instead.  Jewish Young Adults tend to follow this model as well, quickly categorizing their parents Streisand LPs to the “garage sale” bin.  However, there is one artist that has transcended generational bounds and found an eager audience with JYAs:  James Taylor.

Mr. Taylor emerged onto the folk-rock scene in the late 60’s, and truly made his mark in the early 70’s with his soothing voice and slow paced melodies.  And, even though he is not Jewish, Mr. Taylor was an all time favorite for Jewish Adults, both in Europe and Stateside, and was in integral part of the larger folk-rock movement that included other Jewish Adult favorites like Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, and Carly Simon.

Even though he was in an out of the spotlight in the subsequent decades, JYAs adopted Mr. Taylor as one of their own.  Today, the “Best of James Taylor” album is an integral part of the “I own it but never listen to it” collection of many a JYA across the globe, and is frequently used as default pre-booty mood music by males.

Interestingly, Mr. Taylor’s recent comeback over the past decade has not registered at all with JYAs, and they continue to prefer the tracks favored by their parents.  Male JYA “Ari”, who admits to using the song “You’ve Got a Friend” to woo reluctant co-eds, was recently informed of Mr. Taylor’s latest album from 2008 and stated “Seriously?  I thought he was like dead or something”.

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