Monday, December 17, 2012

Latest Update on Downtown Offices and More.

I just wanted to post some more information regarding how Achva is doing as we finish the calendar year.  In certain ways, not much is changed since a month ago and in other ways, much is now very different. Our office looks like it is coming back online next week, G"W, but we were without power there for about 6 weeks. While we have been able to adapt and function well without a formal office, it will certainly be nice to get back there and set up shop as we are accustomed to doing.

Meanwhile, people continue to sign up for our programs and while the storm definitely slowed us down somewhat, December has seen an acceleration that should make up for the slower than usual November.  We have also begun to have a lot of our information sessions and meetings that should have happened after the storm but needed to be postponed.  Its great to see how excited everyone is about all our programs for this summer. This week, we have meetings set for Stamford, CT and New Rochelle, NY.  (If you are interested in hosting a session anywhere, please let us know.)

As mentioned previously, summer preparation has been uninterrupted and completely unaffected by the storm, thank G-d.  So the tours are looking good.  At the same time, we have heard too many stories from people so negatively affected by the storm and who still need help. We have tried as best as we can to make summer plans less of a burden on anyone still dealing with the storm.  We have extended deadlines and such.  We also would like to let people know that if you were planning on Achva but now need financial help due to the storm, please call us about financial assistance.  We may be able to assist you in making Achva a reality in spite of the financial setbacks caused by Hurricane Sandy.

We hope to be back in our office by next week.  But no need to wait until then, please feel free to give us a call anytime to discuss the amazing Achva programs available to you for this coming summer.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

On September 7th, there was an article on this blog which discussed hurricanes and their devastating effects. But the hurricane took place in New Orleans. Never was it on my mind that those effects would hit home in the Northeast not even two months later.

The Achva office has been out of commission for over two weeks now as our building in lower Manhattan, right near Water Street, is still without power after tremendous flooding that has knocked out the building's electrical system. Our various personnel have been dealing with the effects of the storm that has made communication difficult and getting back to normal impossible.  Our email has been down. If you are reading this and you sent an email to any address since Monday October 29, please be patient if you did not get a response. Once we get our office back up and running, we hope to check our voice mail, email and regular mail and respond to everyone who tried to contact us during the aftermath of the storm.

In spite of all this, please understand that all our summer planning has continued as usual and we could not be more excited about an excellent summer 2013.  Some of our hotel and airline suppliers have even given us extra time to book due to the hurricane.  After a week without power, it was extremely encouraging to finally get online and find that numerous people had signed up for Achva using our web site during the days right after the storm.  So please rest assured that our web site and registration systems have been and continue to be up and running B"AH.  To reach us, please see our contact page for updated contact information.

If anyone missed one of our early-bird discounts for lack of power, or other storm related issues, please let us know.  We don't want anyone missing out due to the effects of this (supposedly) once in a century storm.  

Thanks for your support and our prayers and wishes are for all those who were hurt by Hurricane Sandy.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Achva: What's New for 2013

We often get asked what has changed for this coming summer from last summer. So here is a rundown of our programs and some of the changes, and there were some big ones, for the 2013.

Achva East
East is staying pretty much the same. We are adding back Atlanta, which was taken out last year due to the way Tisha B'Av fell on the Sunday the tour usually begins. This tour is already stocked with so many great sites and activities and last summer the kids had a phenomenal time. 

Achva West
This tour is also not changing too much either.  West has been such a success and the feedback so positive that there really is no reason to change a winning formula.  Due to the timing of the calendar we have some minor adjustments for 2013.  This year's tour is two days longer than last year and includes the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and a Shabbat in Phoenix.  Also, due to the whole virus scare in Yosemite, we will be using a nice hotel instead of our usual tents there.  The tents we stayed in were not where the virus was traced to but we don't want anyone to have even the slightest concerns about it.

Achva Alaska/Hawaii
This is a brand new tour for 2013 and it looks to be awesome.  The combination of Alaska and Hawaii is enough to make even some well traveled parents envious.  If you have not yet seen the itinerary, please check it out.  We are pulling out all the stops to make this one of the best Achva trips ever.

Achva Israel
This trip may look the similar but there are some important changes afoot.  We have taken a great Israel trip and made it even better.  We have added a leadership element which will help every participant not only have a fun time but develop leadership skills and better understand what is going on in Israel today.  The tour is a tad shorter than last year but we have added a few different elements that are new for 2013.  While the program always had a lot of Chesed programming, we have added a four-day Chesed program for an extended experience working with the Ethiopian community. This will allow participants to develop stronger relationships and really make an impact on people's lives.   

We have also added an IDF training piece which will be four days of both fun and challenging training in what it means to be an Israeli soldier. There will be some physical and mental exercises conducted by real IDF Commanders to simulate what goes on in the field of combat. Participants will get exposure to some of the weapons soldiers carry, survival techniques and the decision making process. The last new piece is what we call the Start-Up Nation piece which is a way to bring our participants together with Israeli technology entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who are on the front lines of the Israeli high-tech miracle. This will be an extremely interesting piece whether you can program a computer or barely know how to turn on your smartphone. 

The rest of the trip and still the majority will be all the amazing touring and exciting activities that Achva is famous for.  Feedback from last summer was phenomenal both in terms of the group dynamic as well as the touring so we plan on keeping that going for next year.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hurricane Warning

So the recent Hurricane Issac which hit the Gulf Coast areas brought back memories for a lot of people of Hurricane Katrina and reminded us again of the life-changing devastation that hurricanes can bring. This reminded me of an article written by a lovely young lady from New Orleans who went on Achva following Hurricane Katrina.  Her family, living in New Orleans, was, to put it very mildly, adversely affected by the storm. But her spirit and positive attitude will always be remembered by those who spent that summer with her on Achva West.  Below is a link to the article she wrote which was subsequently printed by the Viewpoint magazine.  I think this article shows clearly how Achva is about so much more than kids going on a trip.  Its about people caring for others and bringing Jewish kids together from wherever they may be from.  The article also reminds us of the rich history of Achva West that just cannot be duplicated anywhere else.  Check it out:

An Experience Like No Other by Ruth Brown, New Orleans, Louisiana

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our Web Site for 2013

You probably found this through the Achva web site which now has a link to the Achva blog.  If you have not seen the updated site yet, you should take a look.  Although it looks similar, the web site for 2013 has been completely reorganized to make it easier for you to find more information about all our programs.  More information is now organized specifically by program.  For example, we now have a separate FAQ about each program, not just Achva in general.  We are also more connected to social media than ever before including all our considerable activities on Facebook.  

This blog will, G"W, be updated monthly with new entries that will discuss our programs and summer program issues in general. Feel free to check back in every once in a while or subscribe to this blog to keep up with the articles.  We will also post links to new articles on our Twitter feed (although I know the vast majority of you are not Twitter users but that's a whole other issue.)  If anyone who went on Achva would like to contribute to this blog, please let us know. We would love to add your content assuming the material is appropriate for this blog.  

So thanks to everyone who helped make the newly renovated web site possible and looking forward to an exciting 2012-2013 season.