Our third Summer Campference, One Love, is always an experience unlike any other. This year, 23 young people living with HIV came together to build a community. We did this through laughs, tears, music, health education, and lots of fun.
The first day is always a little nerve-wracking. It started a bit earlier than our first two Summer Campferences as we had almost a third of the participants flying in from out of state. Our staff and volunteers greeted them at the airport, train, and bus depot and got them safely to the Warren Conference Center & Inn, the beautiful lakeside venue where we hosted all of our 2019 Summer Campferences.
Our first night everyone came together relatively quickly. Justin, the Campference Director, opened the night with some games, establishing the community agreements and then getting real about why everyone was in the room. Everyone at Campference was either HIV+ or affected by HIV. He created space for young people who were returning to speak to the reason why they come back. It was very powerful. For many they expressed, “at Summer Campference, I can be me. All of me.”
Friday morning (after some awesome breakfast) we started our first-morning workshop of the “Wheel of Health”. Our intern Catherine worked hard on the wheel and it was awesome to see it in motion at each Campference. This workshop really started on Friday on a good note. The fun and education continued with Justin’s workshop on health education via a rowdy rendition of Jeopardy! We welcomed the amazing music therapy team after that for some awesome jams. We concluded the evening by Quita leading us through the creating of the community bracelets.
Putting the strength, love, and community vibes into each bracelet that the young people can take with them outside of one love.
Saturday started with some fervor. Our morning workshop was addressing the misinformation and stigma that surrounds HIV and what micro-moments of change everyone can do. Kimberly changed the pace at Song Studio and furthered the process of crafting the One Love community song with the group. If you ever get the opportunity to observe Kimberly in her element of working with young people to create a process that results in an incredible song take it! We got to perform the song as a group at the end of an awe-inspiring Stage Night. It was truly one for the books.
Sunday we wrote ‘warm and fuzzies’ to our fellow young people but made an important ask that we all write some to ourselves. We closed the weekend with a final “quack” and said our goodbyes. Sending all the good vibes out to our One Love community. It was a great Summer Campference to end our Summer Campference season!