Where does the group stay during the trip? How are rooms assigned?

We stay in youth hostels, kibbutz guest houses, and hotels throughout the trip. Teens share a room with two or three other participants; with a commitment to building connections and strengthening community, we switch up roommates every time we switch hotels. We recognize that gender lies on a spectrum and, especially for non-binary kids or those who are exploring their gender, the thought of staying in a room with only a few other people can feel particularly challenging. We work closely with families to ensure their teens feel safe in their choice of a room on the male-identifying (“boys”) or female-identifying (“girls”) side of the spectrum, knowing that the participants in those rooms may identify in a variety of different ways. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with any questions!

What’s the food like?

Days begin with a full Israeli buffet breakfast at the hotel. Lunches and dinners are generally at restaurants, hotels, or in program locations. Many times throughout the trip, we also have “pizur” meals, where participants are given the opportunity to choose their own food from a handful of local vendors and restaurants. (This is always a teen favorite!) Vegetarian options are always available; we are happy to work with families to ensure other dietary needs and allergy restrictions are met.

Who are the staff? Can you tell me more about the tour operator?

The group is generally staffed by an experienced American group leader, an Israeli educator, one or two counselors, and a guard/medic. All of our staff members participate in in-depth training covering every aspect of their responsibilities on the trip, including group development, teen issues, educational programming, belonging, and “how we be.” Senior leadership at Camp Havaya are in daily contact with the group and are available to parents 24/7 throughout the trip.

We’re proud to partner with Routes Travel to create a program that is uniquely Havaya. Routes was established as a boutique Israeli tour operator with the express purpose of delivering high quality Israel travel experiences to organizations, communities, and families from around the world. Their highly experienced team designs tours that integrate Jewish history, modern Israeli society, and the discovery of the beauty and spirit of the country; their programs include a great mix of touring, hands-on experiences, and interactive cultural events. With half of their staff hailing from Canada and the US, they pride themselves on being an Israeli company that provides the kind of service you would expect from a company in North America. Their innovative approach and extensive resources ensure that each trip is the best possible experience.

How does travel work? What if we want to travel with our teen before or after the trip?

On the first day of the trip, participants gather at Newark Airport in the late afternoon. (Exact time and location will be shared with registered families.) On the last day of the trip, participants should be picked up at Camp Havaya mid-morning; those with domestic flights home will be brought back to Newark Airport for afternoon departures.

If your teen will be extending their stay in Israel (either before or after the trip) or if they will need alternate flights (i.e., not the group flight), please be in touch and we’ll work with you to make the necessary arrangements.

Wow — teen Israel experiences are expensive! What’s included in the cost? Is there financial aid?

Tuition includes international airfare; all lodging, meals, and program expenses; deluxe air-conditioned bus; dedicated staff; security; laundry; and all tips. Not included are travel to Newark Airport at the beginning of the trip and home from Camp Havaya at the end; travel and medical insurance (see below for more information); and spending money for gifts, extra snacks, and miscellaneous items (we generally recommend around $500).

Nearly half of our families receive financial support in order to send children to one of our Havaya Summer Programs; many of these families have two parents with professional positions who, quite simply, can’t afford the experience without some help. Our financial aid committee works hard to try and guarantee, when possible, that no camper is turned away for financial reasons. Financial aid applications must be postmarked by January 31, 2024; for more information (even after that date), please contact us.

Should we get travel insurance? Is medical insurance included?

Travel insurance helps to protect you from many otherwise unavoidable financial implications which could result from cancellations, illness, and/or other causes. Especially given the last few years, our tour operator strongly recommends families purchase comprehensive travel and medical insurance that covers as many pandemic related events as possible, including the various travel, financial, and medical consequences of sickness and/or quarantine prior to, during, or following the trip.

If you are interested in purchasing travel insurance, you generally must do so within two weeks of registering for the trip. There are many options available; our insurance company recommends considering VisitorsCoverage.

Sending my child to Israel right now is nerve wracking. How do you handle safety and security?

For both Havaya Israel and Routes Travel, the safety and well-being of our participants and staff has always been, and continues to be, our highest priority. We plan our itinerary in daily coordination with the Security Department of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) which receives regular reports from the army and government security agencies and provides us with alerts and precautionary directives. We travel only on our own private bus and are accompanied by security throughout the trip. Matters of security take precedence over all other concerns; if the situation dictates, we readily adapt our itinerary and plans.

What’s the cancellation policy?

For cancellations before March 1, 2024, all payments will be refunded — except for a $750 non-refundable deposit. Families who cancel between March 1, 2024 and April 30, 2024 will be responsible for 25% of the total tuition and fees. Cancellations received after May 1, 2024 will still be responsible for 100% of tuition and fees.

Does my child need a passport?

Yes! In order to travel to and from Israel, participants must have a valid passport. The passport must be valid for an additional six (6) months from the date of return to America (i.e., six months after August 2, 2024) for it to be honored. If your teen will need a new passport, we recommend applying for one as soon as possible; for more information, visit http://travel.state.gov/passport.

If your teen also carries an Israeli passport, please be in touch with us to discuss additional considerations.

Are participants allowed to have cell phones?

As with most teens, the majority of our participants have a smartphone that serves as their camera, music player, and main mode of communication. We work to set guidelines for use so they don’t spend the whole trip looking down at their phone, but we know the ability to stay in touch is so important for them — and their families! (And the group regularly posts to our blog, for those parents whose kids never call!)