FAQ: Alternative Winter Break Puerto Rico

Below you will find answers to many of your questions about AWB.  Please read carefully.  If you have additional questions, please contact us at winterbreak@youngjudaea.org or call 917-595-2100 x219.

AWB is a dynamic service-learning program that promotes social responsibility, volunteerism and the Jewish value of Tikun Olam (repairing the world). AWB participants engage in 20 – 25 hours of intensive volunteering in a variety of settings, such as working at an elderly center or doing light construction. AWB participants also take part in a nightly program that gives proper Jewish context to their experience and to better understand the community in which they are working, as well as have fun!

This year, AWB will be returning to volunteer in Puerto Rico to aid in the immense amount of work still needed to recover and rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017.  We are lucky to have our Young Judaea family in Puerto Rico, some of whom will be there during our work.

Sunday, December 22nd through Friday, December 27th.

Participants will be staying at the JCC in San Juan, which is also the home of Young Judaea in Puerto Rico.  We will sleep on the floor of the JCC (you are encouraged to bring a sleeping bag, YJ will not provide bedding). This was done for two reasons. Firstly, to cut costs to allow more teens to participate. And secondly, to create a different type of atmosphere by immersing ourselves in part of the community we’re helping. Staying at the JCC gives us a greater connection to Young Judaea Puerto Rico and allows us to interact with its members. There are showers at the JCC.

Our registration system is called Regpacks. If you already have a Regpacks registration, please go to www.regpacks.com/yjreg, log-in and simply choose the AWB product.  DO NOT open a new registration.  If you have forgotten your log-in, please contact us at winterbreak@youngjudaea.org or call 917-595-2100 x219

If you have not yet registered for a Young Judaea program, go to www.regpacks.com/yjreg and create an account and choose the product “Alternative Winter Break Puerto Rico 2019”.  HERE is the link to a step by step process on how to create your account.

Young Judaea places great importance on offering programs that are both high quality and affordable. This year’s registration fee is $550 (not including flights which are the responsibility of the participant to organize).

The Bulk of Our Costs Consist of:

  • Room and Board (including three kosher meals a day)
  • Transportation throughout the trip (including a bus to/from the airport, as well as buses and vans for volunteer sites)
  • Special activities (both recreational and educational)
  • Staff supervision – we pride ourselves on the excellence of our staff and counselors in providing a safe and enjoyable trip, as well as serving as educators and role models. Our madrichim (counselors) are volunteers, but there is a cost to bring them to the program.
  • The cost DOES NOT include flights. Please see below for information about flights.

Of course! This program is open to all North American Jewish 9th-12th graders. We will be taking approximately 50 teens. Registration is on a first come, first serve basis.

Flights and/or travel to and from the destination city are the responsibility of the participant. Young Judaea does NOT organize group flights and if the participant is considered an “unaccompanied minor”, it is the responsibility of the parent to organize this directly with the airline. Participants do NOT need passports to travel to Puerto Rico as it is a territory of the United States. Please continue to read below for information about arrival and departure.

When should I arrive and depart from San Juan?

Arrival – December 22nd, 2019

Flights should arrive at San Juan Luis Muñoz Airport between 11:00am –4:00pm EST on Sunday, December 22nd, 2019.

Departure – December 27th, 2019

Flights should depart from San Juan Luis Muñoz Airport between 8:00am – 2:00pm EST on Friday, December 27th, 2019.

If you choose to fly outside of the window, you will be responsible for getting to and from the airport.


Please note that registration for Alternative Winter Break “AWB” will not be processed until all of the forms and travel arrangements have been submitted and payment has been received in full. Full payment is due by November 1, 2019. If you cancel your participation before November 1, 2019, you will be eligible for a refund of the total program fee, minus a $100.00 cancellation/administration fee. If you cancel after November 10, 2019, you will only be eligible for a 50% refund of the total program fee. After November 22, 2019 no refunds will be available. Regardless of when you cancel, if cancellation occurs after you have purchased an airline ticket, you will be responsible for the full price of the airline ticket. No refunds will be given for participants who are dismissed and/or otherwise removed from or leave AWB for any reason (voluntary or involuntary) once the program has commenced. Young Judaea reserves the right to cancel AWB or program option, or change any of the itineraries due to low enrollment security or other reason as determined by Young Judaea’s sole and absolute discretion. Program prices are subject to change in Young Judaea’s sole and absolute discretion. Young Judaea shall not be responsible for fees or damages associated with such cancellation that participant may incur.

Thanks to a number of generous gifts, we are able to offer some subsidies and different types of discounts than we have in the past. These may include:

  • “Bring a Chaver” – Current Young Judaeans will receive $50 off the total price of AWB if they bring a brand new participant (no prior Young Judaea program or camp participation). The “new Judaean” will also receive $50. Both discounts will be applied only after the new participant fully registers. These subsidies are limited so participants are encouraged to recruit new friends early in the process. Please note that siblings cannot be considered as “friends”.
  • “Matching” – Participants can be set up with a “Friendraising Page” where they will be able to create a personalized fundraising page through the Young Judaea system. Young Judaea will match the first $100 for the first 20 individuals who raise this amount.  You can download our self-fundraising guide and follow the steps to create your own fundraising page HERE.

As we continue with our fundraising, more subsidies may be made available. Participants may combine early bird and both “bring a chaver” and “matching” subsidies. For more information about fundraising and to request a fundraising packet immediately, please email winterbreak@youngjudaea.org.

There are many Jewish and non-Jewish organizations that are eager to support teens interested in attending service learning trips like AWB. You can go to your local federation, JCC, synagogue, school or Hadassah chapter to find out more about scholarship and subsidy opportunities. If interested, you may request the Young Judaea self-fundraising kit. There are additional subsidies available for certain cities. Those will be sent to you as we are made aware of them.

Note: Both the LA Federation and the Greater Metrowest Federation of NJ have special scholarships available for teens from their areas. For more information, email winterbreak@youngjudaea.org.

We are currently working with our partners in Puerto Rico to secure volunteer opportunities. We will be revisiting Loiza, where we painted houses and hosted a Christmas carnival last year.  Our work will most likely include building and painting, debris cleanup and a beach cleanup. We also hope to work with elderly and home bound and a Christmas carnival for children. Participants will also meet community activists and volunteers working in social service and social change organizations. We will update as we move forward with our planning.

Young Judaea is a religiously pluralist movement that welcomes members of all streams of Judaism. Jewish tradition is an important element in all of Young Judaea’s programs and we strive to help each participant find his/her place regardless of his or her background.

All participants will have access to fully Kosher meals throughout AWB and therefore teens do not need to make other arrangements for the purposes of kashrut.

All meals will be prepared at the JCC in a Kosher kitchen. We ask that participants do not bring non-kosher items on the trip.  The application will include a space to mark other dietary needs.

There will be at least one Young Judaea staff member for every 8-10 participants.

Here’s a sample itinerary:

  • 7:30am Boker Tov (Wake up)
  • 8:00am Aruchat Boker (Breakfast)
  • 8:30am Depart for work site
  • 9:30am – 12:30pm Work project
  • 12:30pm – 1:30pm Aruchat Tsoharayim (Lunch) at the work site
  • 1:30pm – 4:00pm Work Project
  • 4:00pm Activity (recreational or other) around San Juan
  • 6:00pm Chofesh (free time)
  • 7:00pm Aruchat Erev (Dinner)
  • 8:00pm – 10:00pm Evening Group Activity (speaker, discussion, night out, games, bonding)
  • 10:00pm – 11:30pm Chofesh (free time)
  • 11:30pm Lailah Tov (Lights out)

Participants on AWB will be taking part in structured programs. Phones will not be permitted during program hours and we encourage participants to limit their phone use so they can be more immersed in the experience. In order not to disrupt these programs, we ask that you refrain from contacting your child during programming hours. In the event of family emergency or other issues, we ask that you contact the Young Judaea staff emergency cell phone number that will be provided before the trip. Additionally, we will send periodic emails with photos and updates throughout the trip.

Before AWB, we will send an information guide to all participants and their parents via e-mail. Among more details regarding the programming for the week, it contains the following relevant information:

  • A complete packing list
  • Information on volunteer sites
  • An itinerary for the week
  • Consent and Release Forms
  • Other procedural explanations

We suggest that participants bring a small amount of money to cover travel related expenses to and from AWB (snacks in the airport, coffee, etc). Participants may also want to bring some money for souvenirs or other tourist purchases.

AWB recommends bringing only one bag/suitcase.

Please make sure all baggage is clearly labeled with the participant’s name and destination address.

Please note: AWB bears no responsibility for baggage loss or baggage left at AWB.

The packing list will be sent approximately one month prior to the trip. As we’re finalizing our volunteer opportunity, we are still updating the packing list with relevant supplies and materials.

Please make sure to check with your airline provider regarding their specific rules and regulations for flying as an unaccompanied minor. Each airline has a different procedure and some charge fees for this service. Once you check these rules with your airline, please contact us at winterbreak@youngjudaea.org so we can provide you with the information needed for the airline of our staff member who will be escorting you from the gate to baggage claim. To be considered an unaccompanied minor, your airline must have on record our staff member’s information.

Don’t hesitate to email us at winterbreak@youngjudaea.org or call us at (917) 595-2100 x219!