Planning for Summer 2024? BBYO offers an incredible range of unique travel opportunities for Jewish teens to explore the world together. Each of BBYO’s 30+ travel and camp-based leadership programs is designed to foster tight-knit community building, encouraging teens to form bonds that last long after summer comes to a close. These experiences also give teens the chance to explore Jewish traditions, make cross-cultural connections, and immerse themselves in different communities across the globe. Find program options at bbyo.org/wjw.
One of BBYO’s DC-area teen members, Stella M., traveled to Israel and attended one of BBYO’s camp-based leadership experiences, CLTC. Her experience illustrates the profound bonds teens can form on these Summer Experiences:
Walking through the airport to find my travel group to get to Israel in the summer of 2022, I was beginning to worry that I made a mistake with my summer plans. I was signed up to attend BBYO’s three-week Israel Journey program, return home to Maryland for two weeks, and then leave again to attend BBYO’s Chapter Leadership Training Conference (CLTC). I entered both of these experiences hardly knowing anyone else who was attending and was terrified of not making friends, but the second I met up with my group to travel to Israel, these worries quickly faded away.
My Israel Journey trip was the time of my life, introducing me to a group of about 35 other teens from all around the world. From the first introduction, I felt as if I had known this group forever and our connection only grew stronger over the next three weeks.
The relationships I built on my BBYO Summer Experience were so unique because we were all together as a group experiencing new things in the form of travel, making it easy to build new friendships. Rather than having to go out of the way to get to know each other, the programming set us up for success and gave us things to talk about, experience, and share. The current situation in Israel only makes me more appreciative of the trip I was able to take, and I can’t wait to be back in Israel someday.
I have attended other Jewish sleepaway camps in my life, and I can confidently say my BBYO Summer Experience was the best one, leaving me with lifelong friends who I still talk to all the time, even two years later. What made this Jewish experience unique over any other one is how the programming set us up for long-term relationships. Often, when you attend a program like this, you make close friends for the time being, but those friendships fizzle out a couple of months after the experience has ended. BBYO is completely different, as participants are provided with opportunities to learn about each other’s hopes, dreams, and personalities, setting us up to stay in touch with each other once the program has ended.
Overall, I recommend BBYO summer programs to any Jewish teen looking to make real connections and lifelong friendships.