May 28, 2024
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Yoram Teen Tours Has Fantastic Summer

(Courtesy of YTT) In just its second year, Yoram’s Teen Tours, or YTT, completed an extraordinary summer. The five-week tour of the American West provided countless memories for 184 rising sophomores. The participants came from New York, New Jersey, Florida, Boston, Stamford, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, Seattle and Israel, and the experience allowed them to tour the majestic sights of six states.

Beginning in Colorado on July 4th and ending in California on August 8, the four buses’ worth of Modern Orthodox Jewish participants and staff were mesmerized from start to finish. Leading the tour was Yoram Roschwalb, a 14-year veteran of educational programming and summer touring. With his boundless energy and unmatched talent for connecting with Jewish teens, Yoram amassed a crew of experienced senior staff and talented counselors to help guide the tour.

The program began in Denver, and over the course of nearly a week in Colorado with a one-day stopover at a bison ranch in Wyoming, the participants were able to hike beautiful landscapes, go white water rafting, experience an amusement park, and celebrate their first Shabbat together. All five Shabbatot on YTT were infused with ruach, sumptuous meals, plentiful sweets, inspiring tefillah and Torah learning, and interactive games. The food was delicious all summer long, with superlative breakfast and dinner buffets every day, while participants packed lunches daily.

A week into the program, the YTT buses traveled to Utah for an incredible experience penetrating some of America’s most extraordinary national parks. Consecutive days visiting Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion inc luded observing vistas not seen in the New York/New Jersey metro area. Horseback riding into the breathtaking rocks of Bryce Canyon was assuredly a memory the YTT participants will never forget.

From Utah, the program traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada for a weekend for the ages! Taking pictures in front of the famed “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, soaking in the splendor of the Bellagio fountain show, and experiencing the multiple aerial rides atop The Strat, left the boys and girls with a perfect taste of Las Vegas Boulevard. The days were hot, and participants enjoyed cooling off in the hotel’s outdoor swimming pools, too.

From Nevada, the travel program ventured further west with several days in Arizona. The oohs and aahs upon reaching the rim of the Grand Canyon were momentous, providing a terrific introduction to a state replete with magnificent panoramas. Mincha overlooking the natural wonder was genuinely glorious. The tour rolled into Sedona for an afternoon of mountain jeeping before settling in Phoenix, where things kicked off with a three-hour rental of Six Flags Water Park. Between the water rides, wave pool, lazy river and eating Dippin’ Dots, the participants truly appreciated the opportunity to cool off and have a blast in the nightcap. The experience in Phoenix also included a day of meaningful chesed, as YTT participants lent their helping hands at St. Mary’s Food Bank.

The excitement upon arriving in California that week for the second half of the tour was palpably felt by all. The days spent in both Southern and Northern California were awe-inspiring. Amusement parks like Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Disneyland captivated everyone’s imagination, while visiting national landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Ghirardelli Square, Griffith Observatory, U.S.S. Midway, Warner Bros. Studios and others in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego impressed all.

And who will ever forget the two incredible days at Yosemite National Park? A one-day rock scrambling hike that culminated in soaking in a waterfall provided a fun and exciting challenge. That evening, the boys and girls took a break from nightly hotel stays by camping in (relatively fancy!) tents. Davening Maariv that night under the stars, and then an optional learning session, left imprints on the participants’ minds. Day two at Yosemite included a spectacular hike to the top of Nevada Falls. Nearly half of the 184 participants took part in the six-hour experience while the other half were able to turn back at earlier points. Dunking in the freezing waters of the falls after reaching the summit of the hike was exhilarating.

The time in California also included kayaking and surfing in La Jolla, a boat cruise circling the harbor in San Diego, a Dodgers home game and multiple visits to the amazing restaurants on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles.

The fireworks in Disneyland on the final night of the program offered an exclamation point to the five-week experience. With wholesome “traditional” Saturday night teen activities throughout the summer like bowling, ice skating and go-karting, the participants left YTT with an experience they will never forget.

However, at the end of the day, the itinerary is only part of what makes YTT so special. What truly put YTT West 2023 in a league of its own were the remarkable connections and friendships that blossomed among the participants. So many young individuals came together from around the world, all with the common goal of broadening their social horizons. To quote Yoram, “Watching these kids bond over shared interests and shared adventures was a heartwarming testament to the spirit of camaraderie that defines YTT, and it is the most inspiring part of my job.”

The group bonded on short and lengthy bus rides; they expanded beyond their social comfort zones; they immersed themselves in meaningful Torah learning and Shabbatot; and they were inspired by the adult role models around them, with two to three counselors supervising every bus alongside one to two senior staff members. The teens influenced their bus drivers, who loved joining the group for excursions and the many ruach moments.

And most importantly, they created lifelong friendships because of the meaningful memories of five majestic weeks.

Please visit www.yttsummer.com to learn more about YTT and register early for Summer 2024!

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