I agree with the previous review from wombat 100%
I first came in contact with Project Kindle in 2007. I was attending UCLA, and there is a annual fundraiser called Dance Marathon in which students, teachers, and community members dance for 26 hours straight in order to raise money for Pediatric HIV/AIDS. One of the beneficiaries of the proceeds from that event is Project Kindle.
Project Kindle holds week long camps for children affected and infected with HIV/AIDS. They also hold SpeakOut conferences throughout America at high schools in order to educate and eradicate the stigma against HIV/AIDS.
In 2007 I participated in Dance Marathon at UCLA and met some of the children and volunteers at Project Kindle.
After listening to the stories of the children, their daily lives and their positive experiences at camp, I decided to volunteer that summer.
Camp Kindle was a life changing experience. The children that attend are so uplifting, empowering, and surprising. They are so grateful for the chance to attend camp during the summer. I remember thinking, that my own sibling was the same ages as the children attending Camp Kindle, yet these children were so much more grateful and understanding for the world around them. It really amazed me.
After that summer, I helped volunteer at a SpeakOut event at a local high school in Los Angeles. Many of the children whom I met at camp in the summer, had decided to become SpeakOut Ambassadors and share their stories with the students.
When I first arrived at the high school, all the students were yelling, screaming, and throwing paper balls in the auditorium.
Then, the Kindle children, many around the same age as the students in the audience, entered the stage and began to talk about their lives.
I vividly remember the first time one of the kids on-stage announced that they had HIV. The students in the auditorium became silent. They had no idea.These Kindle speakers did not "look like" they were "sick".
The Kindle children went on to explain their lives, the similar passions and interest as the students listening, and they to explain some of the difficulties they have living with HIV. The medicines they have to take, the stigma and judgment they have had to deal with at school, and even in their families.
At the end of the presentation, the students left the auditorium in silence. You could tell that they have really been moved by what they had heard. The stigma was changing.
Some students even went up to the Kindle kids afterwards to ask questions, and thank them for their courage and honesty.
The entire experience was really emotional and moving.
If you ever have a change to volunteer for this organization, and meet these amazing children, do not hesitate. Do it.
You will not regret it.
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!
Review from Guidestar