One sip and they were gone from BBYO tour

By Jessica Elgot, August 11, 2011
Follow Jessica on Twitter

Three BBYO boys have been sent home from their Israel tour after a parent allowed them sips of his beer.

Ian Kersen said his son Gil sipped his beer on the "family night" in Jerusalem at the end of the tour, as did his son's friends Daniel Levene and Ben Fink, despite warnings that drinking alcohol would mean an early flight home.

BBYO director Howard Shooter said: "BBYO has a strict policy on drinking alcohol. Parents and participants sign a contract prior to going on Israel tour acknowledging that if their children drink alcohol during the programme, they will be sent off the programme.

"We always regret having to send participants off the programme. This was a decision made by the UJIA, Israel Experience and BBYO together."

UJIA said that out of nearly 1,900 teenagers, seven had been sent home this summer, five for drinking and two for disruptive behaviour.

Mr Kersen said: "Daniel and Gil are at Immanuel College together and go to BBYO at Pinner Synagogue. They were really involved. They loved it. Now they have been totally excluded."

His son Gil said: "We were pulled away from our friends without warning, and we never got to say goodbye."

Mr Kersen said: "This incident has left my family with such a foul aftertaste. The policy is ludicrous over something so small."

"The boys did take sips from my glass, and they were only small sips, in Daniel's case I believe only one sip. These are good kids. If they had been sneaking around with bottles of vodka, I would have totally supported them being sent home. But when he took a few sips of my beer, the thought never entered my mind."

His son Gil said: "We were pulled away from our friends without any warning, and we never got to say goodbye."

His friend Daniel said: "I had one small sip of beer and Gil's parents reassured us it would be fine, and when our madrich mentioned it to us, we stopped drinking immediately."

BBYO director Howard Shooter said: "BBYO has a strict policy on drinking alcohol. Parents and participants sign a contract prior to going on Israel tour acknowledging that if their children drink alcohol during the programme, they will be sent off the programme.

"During the tour, participants were reminded of BBYO's policy on alcohol. Three participants were sent off the tour 72 hours early after drinking alcohol in a public place. We always regret having to send participants off the programme. This was a decision made by the UJIA, Israel Experience and BBYO together."

Mr Kersen said: "This incident has left my family with such a foul aftertaste. The policy is ludicrous over something so small."

The tour leaders in charge of the groups have a huge responsibility on their shoulders and must be supported in making these decisions."‬

BBYO said participants had been constantly informed of the "You try, you fly" policy forbidding alcohol on tour. Instances of expulsion are rare but not unheard of, with one or two participants being sent home every couple of years.

But Mr Levene said he believed the policy had blown out of proportion.

During the tour, participants were reminded of BBYO's policy on alcohol. Three participants were sent off the tour 72 hours early after drinking alcohol in a public place.

A spokesman said: "In this instance the entire group had been given a warning the week prior to the incident where it was made abundantly clear that any participant drinking alcohol would be sent home."

*We have been asked to make it clear that the Daniel Levene referred to in this story is not Daniel Arnie Levene of Immanuel College's Sixth Form, who lives in Arkley, Barnet, but it is in fact Daniel Levene who is in Year Eleven at the school.

    Last updated: 9:32am, August 12 2011