HEALTH & SAFETY
We anticipate that our Israel travel experiences will look a bit different than in previous years due to COVID-19. We are grateful for the patience of families as we continue to partner with Israel’s Ministries of Health and Tourism on group travel procedures. As news and information about COVID-19 is everchanging, we are continuously updating our operations to ensure a safe program this summer and will be communicating directly with our registered participants as things progress. You can read more about our overall commitment to ensuring the health and safety of our participants here.
Vaccine guidelines vary by country and are continually evolving. We recommend consulting with your physician as well as the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. BBYO requires its teens to be up-to-date with most vaccines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control. Please review our immunization policy.
As of April 15, 2021, only participants who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will be eligible to attend BBYO trips to Israel. For those teens who cannot be fully vaccinated by their departure date, we would be happy to help you explore alternative arrangements for this summer, or add you to our list for Summer 2022 travel.
SUN & HYDRATION
The sun in Israel is strong—especially in the desert—and it is often stronger than teens are accustomed to. Dehydration, heatstroke, and sunburn are serious concerns that we try to prevent. Some common sense rules we employ whenever we go on hikes or outdoors for an extended period of time include: wearing a hat, not wearing tank tops, using sunscreen, and carrying at least two liters of water.
Proper hydration is essential during a program of this nature. You should be drinking at least two liters of water per day. You can expect that the staff will constantly be reminding you to drink, drink, drink! Ultimately, you must be responsible for this task. The water in Israel is properly treated and is perfectly safe to drink. Bottled water is widely available and inexpensive, and you will have many opportunities to purchase it. Similarly, you will be able to refill your own water bottles with tap water frequently. Teens will not be allowed off the bus without full water bottles.
A rare condition known as leishmaniasis can develop from a sandfly bite. The condition impacts over 90 countries with tropical and sub-tropical climates, including parts of Israel and the United States. Although no teen on BBYO Passport has ever contracted the condition, it is a concern. Sandflies are most prevalent in the desert and most active in the evenings. Whenever our groups are out in the desert during dusk-to-dawn hours, we recommend that teens follow these precautions:
- Minimize the amount of exposed (uncovered) skin
Plan to wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks - and tuck your shirt into your pants.
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin
Be sure to cover under the ends of sleeves and pant legs. Follow the instructions on the label of the repellent. The most effective repellents are those that contain the chemical DEET.
If contracted, leishmaniasis will typically show symptoms after a few weeks - which in most cases will be after the end of the program. Please be vigilant if you see abnormal-looking bumps or bite marks, as early treatment is important. To learn more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website
Teens are responsible for carrying and self-administering their own medication. With the exception of over-the-counter treatments and EpiPens (or similar), our staff is not allowed to hold or administer prescribed medication and cannot be responsible for ensuring that prescribed medication is taken by teens during the program. If you have special requests (i.e. refrigeration requirements), note them on your health forms. Teens are never allowed to share or dispense prescribed medication. Some medications must be taken at the same time every day. Take into account the time difference and consult your doctor if necessary.
As a program, we take a number of precautions to reduce security risks. We travel on a private coach bus, we stay at accommodations with security, we plan our itineraries to avoid areas of concern, we always travel with an armed guard, and we are registered for monitoring through Israel's Situation Room. You can learn more about the proactive risk management and well-informed precautionary measures we take to ensure the safety and security of our participants here.
We also ask our teens to follow some basic security-related guidelines:
- Be aware of suspicious objects
Be careful not to leave behind personal items that may be confused with a suspicious object.
- Stay together as a group
This is a supervised program, and we depend on our teens to stay together as a group at all times.
- Follow staff instructions
In addition to traveling with a guard, we travel with licensed guides who are trained in security procedures, and we depend on everyone following their instructions.
During the season, our emergency phone number is 202-643-2296 and is handled by one of our team members. A BBYO staff member in North America will be answering emergency calls 24-hours a day. Please only use the emergency phone number when there is an emergency as described below:
- Family health emergencies
- Urgent medical or safety situation
- Concerns about fatigue or social adjustment
- Requests for flight extensions
- Requests to be featured in photos
- General security concerns (email updates will be sent in such scenarios)
Non-emergency issues should be communicated to the North American office, open Monday-Friday from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm EST. Simply call 202-537-8091 or email [email protected].