Each group includes 20-45 teens.
Groups are led by 3-5 staff members including a group leader, North American counselors, an Israeli counselor, and an Israeli medic. All staff members are qualified university student leaders, advisors, youth directors, teachers, and rabbinical students.
Additional support staff in Israel includes various knowledgeable lecturers, tour guides, and other USY personnel. All USY Summer Experience staff participate in an intensive training seminar prior to the trips, including becoming certified in CPR/First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid.
Teens travel on a fully equipped motor coach, driven by professionals. Whenever possible, we maintain the same drivers throughout the summer.
The safety and security of our participants and staff is our highest priority. Our programs operate under the security umbrella of the Jewish Agency and their Cheder Matzav, or Situation Room. Our team is consistently in touch with their team as they check and recheck our itinerary on a daily and sometimes hourly basis, and they make adjustments as needed throughout the summer whether that be because of a security update, a heatwave, etc. Changes to the trip may include travel routes, accommodations, and escalation of USY security protocols. We always scrupulously avoid “unsafe” destinations and venues. Additionally, the groups travel around Israel with different guards throughout the summer.
While traveling, teens will have the opportunity to taste the flavors of Italy and Israel. Three full, kosher meals and numerous snacks are given each day. Food is provided by various caterers, hotels, and restaurants throughout Israel. Additionally, in some cities teens will be able to go out on their own for meals at select kosher restaurants.
Teens stay in hotels and youth hostels, dormitory-style bases, and kibbutz guesthouses. Additionally, about weeks of each EPIC trip are spent in Jerusalem at the Agron Guest House in the Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center for Conservative Judaism – and each summer, “Agron” turns into what feels like a second home for the participants.
During the course of the summer, teens participate in at least six hours of volunteer work. Past projects include serving meals at soup kitchens, picking vegetables with Leket Yisrael for the hungry, and working with children with disabilities.
For teens who prefer more intensive service-focused travel, we would recommend participating in EPIC Israel Plus, for which one of the four-day tracks will be community service-based. During these four days, teens will have the chance to experience Israel in a truly one-of-a-kind way— by meeting and helping the people of Israel through hands-on service and social action projects.
We believe every teen deserves the opportunity to participate in USY summer travel regardless of financial restrictions. Please visit our Ways to Save page to learn about various venues for scholarship, including through USY.
We are once again thrilled to announce that participants in EPIC Israel programs will be eligible for a RootOne Voucher (R1V) subsidy in the amount of $3,000 to ensure greater participation in our programs! We hope these vouchers allow even more teens to have an EPIC Israel Summer with USY. More information regarding R1Vs is forthcoming. RootOne is seeded through the generosity of The Marcus Foundation, and is powered by The Jewish Education Project. For more information, please visit RootOne.org.
We would be happy to answer any and all of your questions! Please send us an email at [email protected] and we will get back to you shortly.