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The Camp We Love | ARCH

The Camp We Love

Posted September 8, 2014 by

Tucked away among the trees on the shore of lake Huron there resides a camp known to many of us campers as the camp with a heart. A place where each summer HIV positive individuals, their partners, and their families can relax and be pampered for a week. My first year as a camper I was shocked to find out such a great place existed. I was so impressed that the second year I invited my biggest supporter (my sister Beth) to join me. Last year was my third year and I wanted to give back in any way I could. So when I got that phone call asking me if I would co-facilitate the children's program I jumped at the chance to be on staff. Immediately I was on the hunt perusing stores for prizes and game ideas.

When June came around it was time to meet up with the other staff and make the annual video that would be available on the camp website as aglimpseof what the campers could expect. I was pleased to see that the staff was going to be made up of half newbies and half dedicated long term volunteers. I was thrilled to be part of this amazing group who make the running of the camp look effortless.

Arriving the day before the campers at the end of August, I was able to unpack and meet myco- facilitator and try and get a good night’s sleep. So when the campers arrived the next day we were ready and waiting inanticipationwith our ten foot welcome banner.

In the first full day Ilearnedthat you need to beflexiblewhen it comes to camp. Because plans can change at the last minute and might not always go as you’d imagined. I had gone with an idea of how I thought I wanted the program to look. Sometimes things are beyond your control. I wasdisappointedto find out that some of thefamilieswith children hadcancelled, leaving us with only two boys 7 and 9 and a teen who was 16. Oh well!

Our program allowed the kids to go to the beach after breakfast and after lunch it was on to crafts. We tie dyed t-shirts, had a treasure hunt and played mini golf. There was also a splash pad just off to the side of the dining hall. The campers were also kept busy with preparing forThursdaynight’stalent show. One day they went into a play in a nearby theatre. There were also lots of crafts to create and a bingo night. By the end of my days I was so tired out from all the fresh air and exercise.

The best part was how excited, involved and competitive the kids became in the treasure hunt. Our candy apple making had a few flaws, but we will know for next time. All and all I think they enjoyed their week.

Beforehand I had wondered how I was going to handle my role as staff but at the same time enjoy time with the campers I had met in previous yrs. Both staff and campers made my new role easy.
Many, many campers have strolled thegroundsof this camp; enjoying the beauty, peace and quietatmosphere. It is a place where you can breathe easy knowing others understand what you are going through; where no one is judging you or making you feel stigmatized. You can be yourself.

Camp ....... what can I say?! Here I found compassion, friends, and smiling faces each and every day. I was inspired, challenged, loved, rewarded and teased. I felt excepted for who I am with my idiosyncrasies and naive personality. Back home I am a loving aunt and a widow who loves coming to a place set apart. cm