Jordan River Village - an empowering overnight camp experience for children living with chronic, genetic and life-threatening illnesses
Jordan River Village in Israel is a unique overnight camp for children living with chronic, genetic or life-threatening diseases and children with special needs. The Village is located in the Lower Galilee, near Giv’at Avni. The Village is a fully-accessible 60 60-acre campus with 12 climate controlled cabins with safe rooms; an unobtrusive yet centrally located medical center; an arts & crafts center, a multi-purpose Dining Hall with a teaching kitchen, the only fully-accessible climbing wall and zip-line in Israel; the only indoor hydrotherapy pool in Northern Israel; a Snoezelen Multi-Sensory Room; a sports center, and a professional stage in the large versatile theater. Additionally, the Village includes outdoor camping facilities, horse corral, petting zoo, and an archery area.
The Village provides a safe and unforgettable overnight camp experience, relying on on a professional and dedicated staff and more than 1,000 yearly volunteers, including 20 full-time volunteers who live on campus, staff all of the camper sessions and all this at no cost to children and family members.
To ensure that no family ever has to pay for their child to attend camp, the Village’s annual budget is supported within Israel from the government, corporations, and philanthropists, as well as friends and donors around the world.
Our campers range in age from 9 – 18 and live with one of 25 different conditions including, Cardiovascular Diseases, audiological disorders, chronic skin diseases, Cerebral Palsy, visually impaired and vision issues, Rheumatic Diseases, Severe Asthma, Cancer, Organ Transplants, Metabolic Diseases, Genetic Blood Disorders, Neurological Disorders, Epilepsy, Orthopedic and permanent injuries, life-threatening allergies, Dialysis Patients, Type 1 Diabetes, children with permanent breathing apparatus, and many others.
Jordan River Village’s campers represent the full spectrum of Israeli society– including Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Bedouins; wealthy and poor; religious and secular. We bring children together and focus not on what makes them different, but what makes them the same – living with a serious disease or disability. Many of our 40 annual sessions are disease specific or combine conditions that are not dissimilar.
TO SUPPORT CHILDREN, OF ALL BACKGROUNDS FROM ISRAEL AND SURROUNDING AREAS, TO REACH BEYOND THEIR MEDICAL CONDITIONS THROUGH FREE CAMP PROGRAMS DESIGNED TO FOSTER FUN, INDEPENDENCE, RESILIENCE, AND PERSONAL GROWTH.
Jordan River Village Educational approach
As a member of SeriousFun Children’s Network, Jordan River Village adheres to a philosophy of fun combined with therapeutic programs to help campers see beyond their medical conditions to experience the magic of childhood. These principles include:
- Offering programs that are always free of charge
- Maintaining a fully handicap accessible and adaptable campus which is appropriate for various populations
- Providing constant medical support
- Extensive use of volunteers who are employed to create the Villages’ special atmosphere
- Creating vibrant projects with purposefully designed programs to foster fun, success, learn life skills, and discover new things
Our educational approach has four goals which in combination helps create the special culture of the Village.
1. Fun & Joy– Jordan River Village provides an opportunity for children living with serious illnesses to experience overnight camp. Our goal is to get the child dive into an environment where he/she has the opportunity to have new and fun experiences, entertainment, laughter and friendship – all the beautiful things in life. For the child, everything should flow naturally from the first moment they enter the Village till they depart. Even with the sharing of difficult memories and complex stories about their disease, children will gain a sense of well-being and belonging from the opportunity to share their story with a new friend, and to find a sympathetic ear and a warm and caring heart.
2. Experience Success– “I did it” is an important sentence in kid’s life. For children who attend the Village this sentence is usually linked to a painful medical exam, a surgery, procedure, or complex healing process. At the Village, the children experience a week of a different kind of success– challenges and games, activities and sports, performances and art. Here we focus on the journey towards success. Regardless of scope, each success is important—that is why we enable children to select the areas where they would like to be challenged. The final product has its own importance whether it is an emotional experience or physical accomplishment – it symbolizes a big step forward. Campers learn that their inner abilities have passed major tests in their lives and these successes are good and positive.
3. Social Cohesion– We often hear from our campers that parents do not understand their difficult experiences and what they are going through, especially the social impact. For this reason, we believe that the friendships formed at the Village are critical. The most notable experiences from the session are generally linked to the relationship with other kids or counselors. Campers connect on a very deep and emotional level that enable them to break down barriers and grow stronger from their new friendships. As one child said: “with children like me, I am most free”. In most of our sessions we welcome campers from various cultural and religious backgrounds, different geographic regions, and of different ages. The campers find that even through they have big differences, they also have a lot in common, and building from that commonality is how they create strong and lasting friendships.
4. Opportunity to Reveal New Content Worlds– A critical part of childhood is exploring something new. This concept indicates that the child’s soul is limitless. For a sick child, these opportunities can be limited or much harder to acquire. At Jordan River Village we always work to give our campers innovative workshops and community activities. Every camper has the opportunity to experience something new – culinary, art, drama, music and our adventure tower. Our activities are designed to focus on the emotional experience. To ride a horse, you need to acquire technique, but the experience, the feeling of being on a horse, to guide and to mentor him, to watch his world from the saddle is about the emotional experience.
The Village’s rules –Throughout our programs the Village promotes a positive psychological approach because a positive outlook strengthens the camp atmosphere and encourages the success of our campers. Whereas we want all campers to challenge themselves and take safe risks at the Village, to ensure camper safety we create clear limits and boundaries that are reinforced through logical consequences.
We act in order to:
- Offset some of the emotional and physical effects that their diseases and treatments cause.
- Reinforce the children’s positive approach over time and improve self-esteem and courage that will last beyond their stay at the Village.
- Give hope and help the children to forget their disease, even for a short period of time.
- Teach the children how to cope better with the daily challenges and build a sense of personal value.
- Encourage emotional strength.
The Village counselors are dynamic, positive energetic and fun. Most of them are, weekly volunteers and year-round youngsters. Each volunteer and staff receive intensive training on how to work with children and teenagers who are living with life-limiting diseases. We aspire our staff to provide campers with strength and positive energy, which creates a special atmosphere at the Village. The staff help create meaningful relationships between the kids and themselves. They are also responsible for managing all the session activities.
Jordan River Village is a nonprofit voluntary association (NGO) that is supported by volunteers, philanthropic dollars, government grants, and friends in Israel and around the world. Jordan River Village is recognized by the State of Israel as having a unique
• facility specifically purposed for children living with serious illnesses and special needs
• educational vision
• child-centric programming
• model for the psycho-social treatment of sick children and teenagers. Studies have shown that positive experiences can benefit a child’s healing process by improving self-esteem, self-confidence and their tools for coping with their illness. We apply this principle to all activities and experiences at the Village. Jordan River Village’s work centers on 3 core values:
Love – Love permeates everything we at the Village. We strive to create a joyful and happy environment where camper experience self-pride, support their peers, empathize with others, and enable each other to succeed.
Respect – At the Village every child is an individual with specialized needs. All staff, volunteers, and other campers acknowledge individuality and desire to be special while trying to build an empowered community of kids who each struggle with living with a serious illness.
Safety – The Village has clear rules and boundaries to ensure safety and stability. We vigilantly employ these standards to ensure that all children and staff are safe and able to experience the full fun camp experience. The Village is a pluralistic project with children and staff coming from different cultural backgrounds, religions and socio-economic levels. The Village staff ensure that we provide each child with a welcoming environment where all their needs are taken care of. We reject any form of discrimination. The Village welcomes children from neighboring countries with life-limiting conditions to enjoy the camp experience as well. Jordan River Village is fully committed to the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Village seeks to be a local and international model of friendship, treatment for children with special needs and life-limiting conditions, and providing for the well-being and happiness of each child that comes through our gates. It is used as a blueprint for our educational philosophy, behavioral approach and for all interactions between the employees, volunteers and campers at the Village. Everybody who comes to the Village, staff, students, volunteers, visitors, and lay leaders, are bound by these principles.
Our Friends Organizations
United Kingdom Friends of JRV
The United Kingdom Friends of JRV works to support the Jordan River Village through a variety of events and donations.
The UK Friends of JRV is a registered tax exempt organization and has obtained a gift=aid status.
United Kingdom Trustees of JRV:
If you are interested in making a donation through the United Kingdom Friends of Jordan River Village, please contact:
UK Friends of the Jordan River Village
Ch. Hausmann and Co.
5 De Walden Court
85 New Cavendish Street
London W1W 6XD
Tel: 44-207-436 6333
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
American Friends of Jordan River Village (AFJRV)
AFJRV supports Jordan River Village, where children of all backgrounds living with serious illnesses in the Middle East can reach beyond their medical conditions to experience the fun and healing benefits of overnight camp at no cost
We accomplish our mission through fundraising activities, public outreach, and community engagement.
AFJRV is a US registered 501(c)(3)—all donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
AFJRV Board of Directors:
Claude Bernstein- Chairman
Leigh Steiglitz Morales
To make a donation click here >>
For more information, get involved, or have questions, please contact:
Gail Androphy, Executive Director
244 Madison Avenue, Suite 482
New York, NY 10016
As a Non-Profit Organization, that is supported by donations, organizational transparency is very important to us. Below you can view and download our Voluntary Association documents.