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.
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.
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.
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.