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Funding for Camp Moomba!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016 Written by // Guest Authors - Revolving Door Categories // Community Events, Social Media, Activism, Fundraisers, Youth, Mental Health, Living with HIV, Revolving Door, Guest Authors

Your vote in the Aviva Community Fund challenge could be what allows up to 70 youth living with HIV, aged six to seventeen, to attend camp.

Funding for Camp Moomba!

Did you know there are about 150 children and youth who are growing up with HIV in Canada? Medical advances and good clinical care mean that nowadays there are very few cases where HIV is passed from a parent who is accessing HIV treatment to their baby but worldwide, many parents do not have consistent access to the kinds of HIV care that can prevent HIV from being passed.

Many children growing up with HIV in Canada were born in places where effective therapies were not available, have come from other countries as immigrants with their families their or have arrived through international adoption. Needless to say, children living with HIV in Canada usually experience a host of challenges alongside HIV. 

To add to these challenges, children and youth living with HIV are all too often excluded from play dates and birthday parties because of the stigma that persists around HIV. Misinformation about the virus among the general public means there is still a lot of fear when it comes to HIV, and families living openly with HIV are all too often excluded from social events.

This is one reason that many families keep HIV a secret, which in and of itself comes with fear, stress and isolation. Growing up with HIV means taking lifelong daily medications, attending HIV clinics, navigating teenage relationships in a highly stigmatized and criminalized climate and sometimes caring for family members who are also HIV positive. For many youth living with HIV, there are too few opportunities to just “be kids”. 

At Camp Moomba, the secrecy about HIV vanishes because HIV becomes a shared, rather than solitary, experience.

Camp Moomba is the only national camp program for youth living with HIV in Canada. For many campers, Moomba is the only place they get to meet peers and talk openly about HIV. At camp, we foster community and connection at campfire, meal times, and traditional camp activities from high ropes to canoeing. Campers have the choice to challenge themselves in new activities, and learn from the experience. Through our programming, they build positive relationships with each other and with our dedicated team of volunteers and staff. At camp, youth do not have to worry about HIV, and they get the chance to feel fully connected and confident. 

When we talk with youth living with HIV across Canada who are in their early twenties, it is obvious that Camp Moomba was life changing. It is a place where youth are able to ask questions about HIV, and learn key facts; for example, that those of us living with HIV have the right to reproductive and sexual health, and that we can have children who are HIV-negative. One of our alumni recently said that a major gap in the HIV sector is the ongoing struggle to secure funding for Camp Moomba as an ongoing project. He could not be more right.

The last time Camp Moomba had funding to be a national program was in 2012. This year, YouthCO and Teresa Group are trying to make a national program possible again in summer 2017. To do so, we need your help!

We are asking you to vote in the Aviva Community Fund challenge. It just takes a few short minutes. You’ll need to register to vote using an email address, Facebook account, or both! 

If we’re successful in this competition, we’ll win $100,000.

This funding will mean we can host a free week-long camp experience for up to 70 youth aged six to 17 from across Canada, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get a camp experience, or connect with others living with HIV. During this week, play and relationship building will take centre stage, free from worry about HIV. We’ll also be able to have a dozen camp alumni join us as group leaders.

In addition, with the Teresa Group, we'll provide an in-depth leadership experience for campers aged 15 to 17. Campers will participate in two weeks of camp, one hosted at Camp Moomba in British Columbia, and the other at the Teresa Group's Ontario camp program! This specialized leadership program will help to prepare this group of youth to become leaders at camp and within their local communities. 

Camp Moomba is a place where kids get to be “friends together having fun”, without HIV stigma.

The Camp Moomba experience has a lifelong impact for our campers and their families.  We are really excited about the opportunity to bring together campers living with, and affected by HIV from across Canada, and we look forward to connecting with voters from across Canada to make this a reality! 

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