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Project Kindle, Inc.
February 16, 2011

I have been volunteering with Project Kindle for over 5 years. I learned about Kindle when I went with my sister to a fundraiser in Nebraska. I was immediately impacted by all the people who were involved and the cause they stood for. I submitted my application to be a counselor for the next summer in the California session and was accepted. I was excited and nervous. I had been to camp as a kid but I had never been a counselor. I arrived at camp and was immediately flooded with emotions from the the memories of when I had been to camp as a kid. I was so excited to be a counselor just like the ones I had looked up to so many years before. Camp was rustic and we started with two days of staff training and learning about all the fun activities and events we would be putting on for the kids. We also spent a lot of time learning about the disease HIV/AIDS that infects and affects our campers and their families. I don't think i realized until these two days that I would be working with kids infected with HIV/AIDS. I knew that this was the reason for camp but it hadn't really hit me until we started learning the truth about HIV/AIDS. People would think these kids would be too sick to attend summer camp. Through my own experiences with spreading the word about Kindle I have encountered many people who thought this way. If it weren't for places like Kindle I may have gone through my whole life misinformed. The first day of camp I was taken aback seeing all of these normal children with their bright shining faces ecstatic for the week ahead of them. Some of the campers are infected with HIV/AIDS and some are affected because someone in their family is infected. You could never tell the difference between who is infected and who is not. Only until you become a part of their world and learn their struggles, their statuses and the hardships they have over come do you understand the courageousness of the children surrounding you . I had a cabin that was filled with the 10 and 11 year old girls. I lived in amazement at their bravery and all they could teach me at their young age, me being 21 at the time. Hearing all the campers stories made me laugh, cry and feel overwhelmed. I wanted to do more. But they didn't need me to do more. They just needed the love and nonjudgmental care of everyone at camp for one week of their lives. For this one week they were normal surrounded by kids who faced the same struggles and stigma they did. I heard stories that kids were asked to leave school, asked not to use the water fountain, and worst of all never being able to tall anyone before this week. I had fallen in love with camp and was living in an alternate world of compassion and togetherness. I wondered how I would go back to my normal life. Even though I prayed for camp not to end at the end of the week it did and i was faced with reality. I was so sad but felt comforted knowing the love I had experienced and the fact that I would be changed forever for the better. Over the years I have seen many of the campers grow into wonderful young adults and gotten a glimpse into their futures and how they will change the world. Camp sparked something inside of me that made me always want to do more. Five years later I have run a marathon, Danced for 26 hours straight at 2 dance marathons and walked 3 AIDS walks along with volunteering every summer for camp. I recommend camp for anyone that has a heart and wants to be changed indefinitely for the better. Thank you and VIVA CAMP KINDLE!

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Volunteer & Counselor for a camp of children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.

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