Local and Community News
California: "Strength for the Journey" HIV Retreat
August 22, 2002
Campers at Strength for the Journey retreat at Camp Cedar Glen in Julian, Calif., are coming to share an experience of a lifetime. All of the campers, and many staff members, are HIV-positive or have AIDS. The strength they receive from the retreat prepares them for their journey back into their everyday lives, as well as for the final journey when the disease takes over.Adapted from:
John Keasler, 53, who has AIDS, heard in 1992 about the Strength for the Journey retreats that were started in Los Angeles by the late Rev. Lambert All. He signed up as a camper at the Julian retreat and was invited back as a staff member the next year. Now he is in his second year as dean. He receives no pay as dean of the retreat. All staff are volunteers. There are 25 of them, with an additional 15 support staff who provide special services at the camp.
The retreat includes the usual camping recreation -- arts and crafts, singing around the campfire, sharing stories, hiking, swimming, playing volleyball and putting on a talent show. But at this camp, there are also worship services, estate planning, memorial services and suggestions for writing a will. There are three campfires during the five-day retreat.
The campfire on the first night is started with ashes from the original retreat in 1987, and it's here that campers get to know one another. The second campfire is to pay tribute to those who have died. It's called the Celebration Campfire. At the final campfire, the night before the retreat ends, campers talk about hopes and expectations of another nature -- what it will be like when they return home.
This year's camp runs Sept. 9-13. A maximum of 80 campers can take part. The cost is $150, but most campers receive scholarships from several churches that support the retreat. For reservations for next year's camp, call Keasler at 619-491-0779.
Sign on San Diego
08.21.02; Ruth Lepper
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.