Just imagine that you are a child taking full care of your mother without help. Your mother is dying from the AIDS virus. It is out of this kind of situation that Phila camp was initiated. Many children are taking on adult roles and they need some respite care, some time to be able to be “a kid” if only for a weekend. The first camp took place December 2003; it was both exciting and rewarding to be involved in such a program.
One particular camper touched everyone in a very special way. The young boy had looked over his mother until she passed away. He expressed how happy he was to have a chance to “just be a kid”. Many of the teachers and volunteers wept, realizing his joy and freedom to not have to deal with a “grownup” situation that weekend. The teachers at his school reported, that after that weekend at Phila Camp, he had a smile planted on his face for the entire school week!
The campers participate in activities such as arts and crafts and sports. At camp, they do not just play but also learn about HIV/AIDS. Coping skills are also talked about. Phila Camp responds to the many needs of the children of the community. The camp is held in various rural locations and provides a weekend of respite from the challenges faced by the children of South Africa.
Counselors are trained through the project giving them an opportunity to develop leadership skills while providing peer support. Children are brought in from urban communities as well as informal settlements. The Camp offers a child a weekend of respite, recreation and renewal.