Staffing a USY Summer Experience can be one of the most rewarding experiences in Jewish education.
Staff are responsible for the health, safety, and education of the group. They live and travel with the teens for the duration of the trip.
In many respects, the responsibilities of a USY Summer Experience staff member are similar to those of a camp counselor. Staff members need to be an authority figure, a good listener, and a friend, in addition to possessing the ability to plan and implement programs relating to all aspects of Judaism and Israel education.
Unlike camp, however, there are no “specialists” on USY Summer Experience. Therefore, staff members are expected to plan and carry out many of these “specialties” such as leading creative prayer services, dealing with medical responsibilities, and food preparation.
USY Summer Experience staff are also expected to conduct themselves as role models in all that they do, since the teens we work with are at a critical juncture in their lives and may look to staff members for guidance and counsel. Staff members need to follow USY’s behavioral guidelines and must display a commitment to Conservative Judaism, Shabbat and kashrut, both during the summer and in their own lives.
Most importantly, USY Summer Experience staff members must be committed to providing fun, meaningful experiences to teens that will impact them for years to come.
For individual trip descriptions and staffing overviews please see below.
USY Israel Pilgrimage gives high school students from all over North America the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Israel & Europe, taking part in a variety of fun adventurous outdoor activities and engaging in interesting educational discussions, in order to gain a new appreciation, understanding, and love for the Jewish homeland and people.
USY offers six Israel trips that range in travel time from four to six weeks. The number of participants per group is approximately 40-45, with one group leader (Israeli or American), one American female staff member, one American male staff member, one full-time Israeli medic, and one full-time Israeli counselor. As a general rule, the group leaders have had prior experience with USY Summer Experience.
Pilgrimage staff members have various responsibilities including, but not limited to, facilitating an inclusive, positive social environment; overseeing day to day travel and logistics; adhering to USY’s safety and medical policies; and educational duties. For example, during the course of the summer, staff members may have the opportunity to lead/teach religious services and sichot (study groups), and help encourage teens’ personal growth with regard to Jewish identity and Zionism. Responsibilities may vary according to the specific Israel Pilgrimage trip; for instance, staff may lead Shoah-related sichot (study groups) while touring in Poland, Prague, etc.
USY on Wheels is a cross-continental tour for Jewish high school students from all over North America which allows them to travel and live with peers, while providing abundant opportunities for developing independence and personal growth.
Five staff members travel on the bus with about 40-45 teenagers and a bus driver for the entire trip. One of the five staff members is the group leader who, as a general rule, has had prior experience with the Wheels program.
Wheels staff members have various responsibilities including, but not limited to, facilitating an inclusive, positive social environment; overseeing day to day travel and logistics; adhering to USY’s safety and medical policies; and educational duties. For example, during the course of the summer, staff members may have the opportunity to lead/teach religious services and sichot (study groups), as well as arrange meals, shop for groceries, coordinate sightseeing, and help out in other areas as needed.