USY on Wheels, Mission: Mitzvah

Want to spend your summer having fun while helping others?
Want to see the United States in a unique way?

Then join us this summer on USY on Wheels, Mission: Mitzvah. For five-and-a-half weeks you can travel from east to west making a difference in every city you visit. Along with helping to repair the world you will experience the great sights and sounds this country has to offer. Please note:  The Mission: Mitzvah trip begins and ends in Chicago. (Wheelniks will fly to and from Chicago on their own.)

Highlights Include:

Click on the “Read” link for a city to learn more about the USY on Wheels, Mission: Mitzvah experience from a previous summer (please note: the route has changed Summer 2014).

Memphis

  • Day 1: On the ride to Memphis, the group watched the movie Remember the Titans. When they arrived, in Memphis the bus visited the Gibson Guitar factory and saw how these world-renowned guitars are made. Next, the bus stopped at Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland. At his home they viewed instruments and costumes from his storied career and of course had a chance to pick up some of his music in the gift shop. In the evening, the Wheelniks had dinner at a local synagogue and played a get-to-know-your-staff game.
  • Day 2: Mission Mitzvah put their Mitzvah Clown training to use as they visited the Memphis Jewish Home dressed as clowns to help brighten the day of the residents there. At the Jewish Home they made balloon animals and sang and danced with the residents. It was a very meaningful experience for the Wheelniks and the residents were overjoyed that students came to spend some time with them. Later, the bus visited the National Civil Rights Museum and learned about the origins and history of one of the most powerful and important movements in American history.

Oklahoma City

  • Day 1: When they got into Oklahoma City the group visited the Oklahoma City bombing memorial. There they saw the incredible memorial that is dedicated to all those who lost their lives on April 19, 1995, at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Afterwards the group headed to their hotel for mincha and dinner. Later on the group went out to the ballpark to see the Oklahoma City Redhawks game. Finally, the group finished the day by watching a fireworks show!
  • Day 2: The bus spent the day in Oklahoma City. During shacharit the group learned about the Barchu, the Jewish call to prayer. Later, the wheelniks went to volunteer at a local camp for inner city youth. Mission Mitzvah donated Wheelniks time and helped get the camp ready for the children who will begin attending in the next few weeks. After their hard work, the group relaxed at the Whitewater Bay water park. In the evening, they headed over to a local Laundromat to do some laundry. For some of the Wheelniks this was their first time washing their own clothes and the staff and other Wheelniks made sure to help them separate the colors from the whites. After everything was neatly folded they had dinner and then finished the day with some free time.

Amarillo

  • The bus made their way to Amarillo, Texas. In the morning the group davened and learned about the Birkot HaShachar. Their first stop of the day was at the Route 66 museum. At the museum the group saw relics from the long history of this famous American road. When they arrived, Bus H visited Elkins Ranch in the Palo Duro canyon, America’s second largest canyon. While in the canyon the group took a Jeep tour, a truly amazing experience! Following the tour they had a picnic dinner. In the evening the Wheelniks got a backstage tour of the Texas Legacy Show and then saw a performance of the show which included fireworks, horses and cowboys and told the history of the Lone Star State.

Albuquerque

  • Day 1: Today the bus made their way to Albuquerque, NM. On the way to their destination the group stopped at the Cadillac Ranch, a stop on the side of the road with old Cadillac cars jutting up from the ground which people who pass by frequently sign or spray-paint. After adding their names and some of their own designs the group continued on to their destination. When they arrived, the Wheelniks had time to explore the shops and area of Old Town Albuquerque. Later, the Wheelniks visited the International Rattlesnake Museum. There they viewed the largest collection of different species of live rattlesnakes in the world! In the evening they ate dinner at a local synagogue and then went to the Hinkle Family Fun Center where they rode go carts and bumper cars and played laser tag and arcade games.
  • Day 2:
    This morning the group woke up, davened shacharit and learned about the Kedusah section of the Amidah. The group then went out and volunteered at the Road Runner Food Bank. At the food bank they sorted food and put breakfast into the backpacks of children who cannot afford a morning meal. The group then visited the International Balloon museum where they learned about hot air balloons.

Phoenix

  • In the morning the group began the trip to Phoenix. When they arrived they volunteered at the Jewish Council for Special Needs by holding dance party for the residents and helping them prepare gift packages for their Rosh HaShana fundraiser. The Wheelniks then visited Rawhide Western Town where they saw the old west style shops and went to the petting zoo. In the evening, the bus returned to their hotel for dinner and a lip-syncing competition.

Grand Canyon

  • Day 1: Today the bus made their way to the Grand Canyon. On the way they stopped at Slide Rock State Park where the Wheelniks went sliding down natural rock formations and splashed around in the water. Later on they learned about hunger issues as they went to a local supermarket and split into teams trying to buy the most they could for $10. The group will then donate these purchases to a food a food bank along their way. In the evening they arrived at the grand canyon and had dinner and an evening program on their heroes.
  • Day 2: Today the bus woke up at 4:30 AM and headed to the edge of the Grand Canyon to daven Shacharit as the sun rose over the beautiful canyon. Following Shacharit the Wheelniks ate breakfast and then put on their hiking boots and trekked down into the canyon for a morning hike. The group then had some free time to rest from the hike and the early wake up. After lunch, Mission Mitzvah had their ongoing series of sichot and tie-dyed some t-shirts. In the evening the group had dinner and then did an evening program under the stars.

Las Vegas

  • The group had free time to explore the many hotels on the Las Vegas strip. Later the bus went to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum and got a chance to take pictures with all their favorite celebrities. In the afternoon, Bus H volunteered and St. Jude’s Children’s Ranch, an organization which serves abused children. At St. Jude’s the Wheelniks played a game of softball and capture the flag with the children and served them ice cream. Afterwards they went to see the home and personal art gallery of a local artist who has a connection to the Wheels program. In the evening the bus had dinner and then went out to do laundry.

San Diego

  • Today Mission Mitzvah spent the day in San Diego. In the morning the Bus volunteered at the LGBT festival. Later, the bus visited the world famous San Diego Zoo and had lots of fun walking around and seeing all sorts of interesting animals from around the world. Next the group drove to La Jolla Cove where they had free time and dinner on the beach. Finally, the Wheelniks finished their day by visiting Seaport Village where they had free time to browse the shops.

Los Angeles

  • Day 1: Following shacharit this morning Mission Mitzvah visited the extremely powerful Museum of Tolerance. The Wheelniks then put on their mitzvah clown gear and cheered up the day for many residents at a home for the elderly. Later, the bus headed over to Beit Teshuva, a Jewish rehabilitation center, where the group learned about this wonderful organization and heard from patients that they help.
  • Day 2: Today the bus got up early for what is one of the most fun days on Wheels: Disney Day! Mission Mitzvah had a fantastic day with Mickey and Co. as they rode the rides and experienced all the fun at this fantastic park. After a long day the group retuned to their hotel for the evening.
  • Day 3: This morning Mission Mitzvah learned about Az Yashir during Shacharit and headed out into LA. The group spent most of the day at Universal Studios theme park enjoying all of the movie themed rides, shops and shows. In the afternoon the group went window shopping on Rodeo Drive where they saw some of the world’s most expensive stores. Later the wheelniks went out to see all their favorite stars at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Afterwards the group had free time and dinner on Pico Boulevard. In the evening they had free time to explore the boardwalk and beach on the Santa Monica pier.
  • Day 4: Today Mission Mitzvah’s fantastic summer came to a close. The group woke up and did Shacharit together for the last time before saying their tear-filled goodbyes. The group then began to head home as some Wheelniks headed to the airport or were picked up by parents. The summer was truly an experience of a lifetime and the friendships that were made will last a lifetime.
  • Click here to download a sample itinerary for USY on Wheels, Mission Mitzvah.
  • Click here to read Frequently Asked Questions about USY Summer Programs.

Ready to make your escape with USY?

Click here to complete the 2015 USY Summer Program Preliminary Registration (using our online application tool).

If you have any questions or need additional information about this and other USY Summer Programs, e-mail us at wheels@uscj.org.