Yoram Roschwalb wants to give your ninth grader the summer of a lifetime. Since we had the pleasure of introducing you to him in this column last September, the personable and popular founder and director of Yoram’s Teen Tours (YTT) has had an extraordinary year. Working in tandem with an incredible team of consummate professionals, Yoram planned and executed the first-ever summer of YTT West, consisting of five fabulous weeks of touring, friendships, and fun.
And just to make life even more interesting, the year was capped off by the addition of a new family member, Darby, who was born right before the summer. A devoted husband and father, Yoram’s two passions in life are family and teen tours so he created YTT to continue bringing his talent and energy to the job of giving teenagers amazing summer experiences.
While YTT West 2022 was a rip-roaring success, surpassing all expectations, Yoram and his team have now turned their attention to Summer 2023, aspiring to reach even greater heights!
YTT West offers participants the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful places on earth. “The itinerary takes you on a once-in-a-lifetime journey, with a plethora of activities that are each full of excitement,” Yoram shared. “Our itinerary has something new, different each day.”
On YTT, participants can branch out and cultivate new and lasting friendships. “Kids always make new friends, but the tour brought that to a whole new level. Every Friday night dinner, we would randomly assign the seating to mix things up but for the last Friday night there was no need anymore.” Kids sat wherever they wanted and then noticed something magical had occurred. He asked everyone to look around their table and notice with whom they chose to sit. There was a collective gasp as everyone realized that there was no longer a need for randomization. Right then, the kids understood how much the social dynamics had changed for the better, not just that evening, but over the last five weeks.
YTT West is a five-week tour that offers kids the opportunity to experience the majestic and raw beauty of the Western U.S. Designed for Modern Orthodox teens who love to travel and make new friends, YTT features an itinerary planned with painstaking precision to ensure an unforgettable experience for every participant. Fusing gorgeous sceneries, big-time attractions, and meaningful chesed projects, YTT brings kids from all over the world together to make epic memories.
Yoram continued, “We even had moments that were really inspirational, like when we hiked up six miles to the top of Nevada Falls at Yosemite National Park and when we reached the pinnacle we started singing “Am Yisrael Chai.” Then there was the time they davened Minchah overlooking the Grand Canyon and everyone was completely silent, taking in the amazing moment. “There was something special happening,” Yoram says, “I was truly moved by it.”
Touring the West Coast also has the added benefit of occasionally seeing famous celebrities out and about. NBA player Jrue Holiday was spotted by the group at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Some of the kids competed against him in a 3-point shoot-out. During the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, the kids got a good look at Aquaman actor Jason Momoa.
YTT West is co-ed, shomer Shabbat, strictly kosher, and infused with Torah values and chesed. Every YTT Shabbat is a celebratory event—a true oneg with infectious ruach and simcha. A rabbi accompanies the tour to oversee the davening and learning as well as answer shailos and make sure everything is kosher.
YTT West is an opportunity for post-ninth graders to embark on the road trip of a lifetime, from Colorado to California and everywhere noteworthy in between. Soak up the sun and sights in Los Angeles and San Diego, experience fun at its finest with kid-friendly activities in Las Vegas. Marvel at the magnificence of Hashem’s creations as you experience the mighty Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Travel to Phoenix, Arizona to see the hidden natural gems of nature and savor a day trip through stunning Sedona. If this sounds exciting, we’ve only just begun to describe the summer that awaits participants of YTT West 2023.
Bringing his many years of experience working on teen tours to bear on YTT, Roger Braverman, former long-time director of Achva, has been an integral part of the YTT team since its inception. Roger noted, “For YTT, providing amazing teen travel trips is the sole focus of the organization. When bigger organizations run teen tours, the tours are often secondary to their core mission. Not so at YTT; great summer tours are the only reason we exist.” Truly a dynamic duo, Yoram and Roger pool their respective talents, working together throughout the year to ensure every YTT participant a fantastic summer.
The tour runs from July 4 to August 8, 2023, starting in Denver and culminating in Los Angeles. Sites include Arches, Bryce, Las Vegas, Zion, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Phoenix, San Francisco, Yosemite, and San Diego. From thrilling theme parks to majestic mountains and from swimming in the Pacific Ocean to sunset in the Grand Canyon, on YTT West, there really is something for everyone.
Adhering to high standards of kashrut, three kosher delicious and nutritious meals are served daily throughout the trip. “We stay overnight at hotels where most of our davening and meals take place,” said Yoram. “We travel on air-conditioned, fully equipped coach buses, which include a bathroom, WiFi, and electrical outlets.”
“Safety and security are our top priority,” added Yoram, who personally guides and supervises the tour. “Together with Logistical Director Sherri Mestel, along with a staff of talented hand-picked counselors, food service people, as well as a rabbinic advisor, the entire staff will work incredibly hard to give you the best possible summer.”
Yoram noted, “We are offering an Early Bird discount of $500 for registrations received prior to October 1. Additionally, the deposit that accompanies your registration is fully refundable until January 15, 2023.”
“I hope all ninth graders will join us this summer,” says Yoram. The feedback from last summer was tremendously positive. I really want more kids to have that same experience. Although leaving camp to do YTT might mean leaving your comfort zone, I can tell you with confidence that you will be thankful for taking the leap and coming to YTT and have no regrets!”
They also have several Zoom information sessions coming up beginning with this Thursday, September 29 at 8 p.m. For information about the Zoom or to learn more about YTT West 2023, please either refer to the ad in this issue of the 5TJT, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 917-423-6629 or visit yttsummer.com.
Rochelle Maruch Miller is a contributing editor for the Five Towns Jewish Times. She is a journalist, creative media consultant, lecturer, and educator, and writes for magazines, newspapers, websites, and private clients. She welcomes your comments at Rochellemiller04@aol.com. Read more of Rochelle Miller’s articles at 5TJT.com.