Since 1960, USY has taken thousands of teens across North America aboard USY on Wheels. On this cross-continent tour, Jewish teens explore the United States and Canada, discovering new sights and making lasting friendships through their travels. An intense identity-building experience, USY on Wheels allows teens to travel and live with their peers, providing abundant opportunities for developing independence and personal growth.
The trip also builds Jewish identity, immersing teens in meaningful experiences and discussions that strengthen their understanding of and commitment to Judaism. Participants celebrate Shabbat, find new and fun ways to pray (through yoga, crafts, and more!) keep kosher, and build their own Jewish communities on the road, teaching them that they can find a sense of kehilla (community) no matter where life’s travels take them.
There will typically be 30-45 participants on USY on Wheels East. We only run one bus for East – participation is first-come-first-served, so we recommend registering ASAP so that you don’t get closed out!
USY on Wheels East is supervised by 5 staff members. All staff members are qualified university student leaders, advisors, youth directors, teachers, and rabbinical students.
Each bus is in daily contact with the Central USY office and the Director of Teen Travel and International Engagement, who is on call 24 hours a day. 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 a professional who remains with each bus for the duration of the trip.
Three full meals and numerous snacks are provided each day. All the food is kosher and supplied by kosher caterers throughout North America.
Teens stay in major hotels fully equipped with swimming pools and recreational facilities. The number of teens per room varies from three to four depending on the facility.
Previously, teens had the opportunity to participate in a Home Hospitality program, during which teens would stay at local USCJ congregants’ homes in a number of communities throughout North America. While we will still visit various congregations across North America, our Home Hospitality program is currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Social action and community service projects are an important component of USY on Wheels. During the course of the summer, teens participate in at least three hours of volunteer work. Past projects on Wheels buses have included:
Of course! This is probably our most commonly-asked question. Our staff are fully aware that while some participants sign up for our programs with friends, many register not knowing any other teens. It is a top priority of our staff to create an environment in which all teens can thrive, no matter if they are coming into the summer alone or with others. We would also be happy to try to connect you with other registered participants in your area if you would like to meet people beforehand.
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.
If your child will be participating in USY on Wheels as their first-ever immersive Jewish overnight summer experience, they may be eligible to receive up to a $1,000 One Happy Camper grant. Refer to the program website for more information regarding eligibility requirements and grant availability.
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.