In 1993, Camp Heartland was founded by then 22-year old Neil Willenson of Wisconsin. It is the largest camping and care program for children who experience HIV/AIDS. As most of the children cannot afford tuition, it is through the generosity of thousands of individuals, corporations, and foundations that Camp Heartland and its services are provided free of charge to all participants. It is located in Willow River, Minnesota.
On April 1, 2008, Camp Heartland expanded its mission and vision. An umbrella organization--One Heartland--was formed and currently operates all organizational activities including Camp Heartland, Birch Family Camp, Camp Pacific Heartland, Journey of Hope AIDS Awareness program, Camp Northstar, and Camp 5210.
Long a haven for families living with HIV/AIDS, the Birch Family Camp provides support, respite and advocacy programs to all participants. Staffed by hundreds of volunteers from across the globe, Birch Family Camp offers its programs and services to over 80 families each summer.
An additional program under the umbrella of One Heartland is the Journey of Hope AIDS Awareness program. The children of One Heartland participate in a week-long training in which they learn to speak openly and honestly about their experience with HIV/AIDS. In sharing their stories, these children make HIV/AIDS more accessible to the general public. Its participants have visited over 100 schools, universities, and churches since its inception.
Using One Heartland's nearly 19 years of experience in providing camping programs, we've now expanded to serve a variety of children, youth and families facing social isolation. Camp Northstar provides summer camp to children and youth experiencing homelessness and in transitional housing through partnerships with shelters in the Twin Cities.
2011 will be the second summer that One Heartland will provide Camp 5210, a weeklong summer camp for families facing Type 2 Diabetes. Working with the 5210 model - 5 fruits & vegetables a day, less than 2 hours of screen time per day, at least 1 hour of activity per day and 0 sugary beverages - One Heartland aims to make a dramatic change in the lives of families facing this epidemic.
Mission: One Heartland creates community, offers respite, and builds lifelong skills by providing an accepting environment for children, youth and their families facing social isolation so that they may lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.
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