Getting teens to become involved in community organizations isn’t always easy. But when they do venture out, many describe their experiences as “life-changing,” “the best times of my life,” “home away from home” and “I just feel connected there.”

Youth organizations such as BBYO, NCSY, NFTY and United Synagogue Youth (USY) provide teens with opportunities to learn more about their faith and serve the community.

But getting your teen to take that first step can be tough. These are some of the excuses you’re likely to hear, along with ways to counter them:

“Too busy” — These experiences are worth making time for. They are life-changing opportunities that lead to a sense of belonging and create bonds that will last a lifetime. Weekday and weekend opportunities are available, so your teen can attend when he can.

“No way!” — Some things in life are non-negotiable. Consider requiring your kids to try a youth group at least five times before having an opinion about it. Teens don’t know what they are rejecting until they have given it a good try (going once or twice is often not enough).

“I don’t know anyone going!” — These groups have great teens already involved who will personally reach out to your teen. Just let them know you’d like this. If you make it non-negotiable, your teen may be motivated to find friends to go with her.

Below, some local youth group kickoff events that are coming soon.


Two BBYO kickoff events are scheduled for late August at the Valley of the Sun JCC, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale:

BBYO Fall Kickoff Carnival: 6-8:30 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 27

BBYO Recruitment Night/Teens & Parent Information Night: 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 28. Teens will get a taste of each of the BBYO Scottsdale chapters through individual programs that help teens to select a chapter that suits them best. Parents will learn all about BBYO during the separate parent session.


NCSY is dedicated to connecting, inspiring and empowering Jewish teens, as well as encouraging passionate Judaism through Torah and tradition. Contact Shmuli Josephsen at for more information.


NFTY is a movement that builds strong, welcoming, inspired communities through teen-powered engagement. Temple Chai Temple Youth (TCTY): For students in ninth through 12th grade. The group meets two to three times a month, typically on weekends, plus members participate in three Valley-wide events and four regional events with NFTY Southwest. Upcoming events include:

TCTY Kickoff event: TCTY Color War: 6-8:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 9, Temple Chai 4645 E. Marilyn Road, Phoenix.

TCTY Junior (seventh and eighth grade) Swim Party Kickoff: 12:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 10, Temple Chai.

Contact Erin Wynn for more information at


USY is Conservative Judaism’s premier youth group linking Jewish teens to more than 10,000 USYers participating in 350 chapters in 16 regions across North America. Typically, our local USY chapters meet on weekends.

USY-Beth El Kickoff: 12:30-2:30 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 27, Beth El Congregation, 1118 W. Glendale Ave., Phoenix. A family swim party for all Kadima and USY age kids and their parents. Cost is $10 per family and includes pizza and snacks. For more information, contact Nanci Siegel Manson at 602-944-3359 or JN

Jennifer Schwarz is the co-founder of the League (formerly known as the Jewish Youth Group Sports League), which supports local organizations that bring together and inspire Jewish teens.

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