Junior Branch is the heart and soul of CISV, where young people across the globe work together to develop the organization’s goals, challenge each other, and devote themselves to addressing critical issues in their local communities and beyond.
JB is a playground. You’ve probably heard that before. The metaphor brings forth images of rusted swings, bright red slides, and towering jungle gyms. It elicits nostalgia for a time of fewer responsibilities and greater imaginations. But what does it mean in the context of our organization? In practice, how can Junior Branch really serve as your playground?
- There are resources and tools at your disposal.
Just as a playground features permanent, durable equipment from which to launch activities, so does Junior Branch. In a playground, this equipment is hard and metallic – a foundation for play. In JB, the equipment can be just as physical – digital guidebooks, activity planning templates, blogs, social media sources, and weekend-long training workshops. But the most valuable resource in JB is more dynamic than that – it’s the network of individuals who support and promote one another. Leaders, committees, and participants may change with time, but the encouragement and guidance provided by our peers remain sturdy.
- That which does not exist can easily be created.
On a playground, a swing can be a rocket ship and a slide can be a dragon’s tail – any world you wish to create can be invented and shared with those around you. Just the same in JB, you have the flexibility to develop anything you believe will improve yourself, your chapter, your community, or the world. In Junior Branch, creativity is an asset. Our organization is not static – it is the continuous result of unique ideas and great minds.
- The space is one for collaboration.
Playgrounds are exponentially more fun when you’re surrounded by your friends. The same goes for JB! In Junior Branch, nothing is truly complete without active participation from the entire JB community. We bounce ideas off of each other, share best practices, and engage in projects and activities. Junior Branch is the sum of its parts (or in this case, its JBers), and even when we are physically separated, we remain united through our promotion of the organization’s ideals and principles. Plus, the relationships we build extend beyond just JB involvement and permeate our daily lives.
- Risks are encouraged, and failure is not catastrophic.
Have you ever made a great leap on the monkey bars, or slid down an impossibly long pole? On a playground, you can move outside your comfort zone and work to accomplish feats you never thought possible. We like to encourage the same attitude in JB. Take a chance and develop a unique project, partner with an unlikely LMO, or apply for a leadership position that you think is out of reach. More often than not, the risks you take in Junior Branch will be rewarded – and if you fail, you can always try again. Nothing is set in stone and nothing is penultimate; the effort we dedicate to the organization (even if we do fail) is returned to us through experiences and education.
- There is a place for everyone.
A playground is an open space – anyone can find a way to enjoy it. In the same way, Junior Branch is (and forever will be) an inclusive environment. Opportunities exist for all individuals, no matter their age, habits, hobbies, or experiences. The complexity of the organization allows for any person to find a niche and thrive. This characteristic of JB not only expands our diversity, but also improves our broader functioning by ensuring continuous involvement of new faces and voices.
Junior Branch is a playground. But more importantly, Junior Branch is your playground. The positive qualities of the organization are directly related to your personal involvement; the more you give, the more you get. So slip on your sneakers and take that leap – your jungle gym is waiting for you.
–Rachel Buff (JB Director)