Leadership opportunities and community engagement growing among teens

I grew up three blocks away from my JCC. Some days, especially during the summer, I spent more waking hours at the J than I did in my own home. I would often ride my bike up to the J, park it on the bike rack, walk through the front door and greet my grandma (my grandmother worked at the front desk).

I would visit the J to participate in Children’s Theatre, take tennis lessons, meet a friend to play racquet ball or swim at the pool. When I was older, I worked as a lifeguard with the same friends I hung out with at the J. It was truly my second home.

I am proud to say the JCC is still a vibrant place for our teens. Read on to find out about all the things our teens have been doing!

For more information about Teen Programming contact Meryl Hattenbach, JCC Program Manager at (937) 401-1550 or


What could be a more powerful experience for a Jewish teen than to join a group of peers and spend the afternoon volunteering to make a difference in the community? In partnership with Jewish Family Services, 22 Dayton teens did just that at the YWCA as part of J-Serve 2018. The teens assisted women and children in need by donating much-needed personal care items, touring the YWCA, learning about its mission, organizing donations, and cleaning key spaces. Dayton BBYO is active and growing under the leadership of our young teens and City Director, Sarah Wolf-Knight.

Dayton Junior Youth Group

I didn’t expect to find myself in the back of a hay wagon, clutching an 11 year old and trying to hide from a scary masked man with a chainsaw. But that’s exactly where I was at “Havdalah and Haunt” at Young’s Dairy, the first program of the year for the Dayton Junior Youth Group. Jewish pre-teens and teens in grades 6 through 8 meet monthly for fun, social-action and Jewish programs. The kids come from all congregations and school districts throughout the Miami Valley.

JCC Children’s Theatre

Had you been in the girl’s dressing room following the closing of the JCC Children’s Theatre performance of TARZAN, you would have seen a bunch of girls ~many dressed like apes ~ hugging and crying. Who knew that four months of rehearsals would create such a strong bond between friends, many of whom just met at the start of the season? As our experienced Children’s Theatre staff will tell you, it’s not about the show or the songs or the part you get—it’s about the relationships you build and the personal challenges you overcome. Twenty-three kids ages 7 through 16 shared the amazing experience of staging a full length production of Disney’s TARZAN, complete with a live pit orchestra. Mazel tov to the entire cast on their hard work and a successful season!

Camp Shalom CIT Program

Our teen CITs (Counselors-in-Training) are a vital part of camp life. These young adults in 8th-10th grade provide fresh ideas and a different skill set for our camp programming. We rely on our CITs to help supervise campers and lead programs. These years are a critical transition period for young adults when they gain valuable skills in leadership, organization and supervision. They create strong bonds with each other and with the younger campers who look up to them as role models!

JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest

We are proud to announce that Dayton is sending a delegation to this year’s JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest. The teens will participate as part of “Team Ohio.” They will travel to Orange County and Long Beach, California in August to join 2,000 other teens from around the world. The athletes will compete in a variety of individual and team sports. Our ArtsFest participants will take part in week-long master classes in specialty areas culminating in a showcase at the end of the week.

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