At REACH Ministries, it is our priority to provide a space for families, all of whom are affected in some way by HIV, to come together as a community and support one another. We desire to provide a place that is judgment free, where families can trust one another in a relaxed and fun setting, while sharing their experiences and stories. REACH camp offers that safe haven, a place to develop community with people in similar situations.
Camp is where trust is built. It is an escape into a carefree world that families don’t experience for most of their daily lives. Attending camp has a major impact on the lives of the kids and their families, which is why many families have never left in the past twenty years. This continuity has given REACH a unique opportunity to develop close relationships between families, staff, and volunteers. Through the early years, as our kids lost parents to complications of HIV/AIDS, they were raised by relatives and in some cases shuffled from one home to another. Some were placed in foster care and these foster homes became part of the REACH family and have never left. It’s a beautiful example of God’s love, as our families grow and expand, that camp continues to be a safe community that no one leaves.
REACH partners with medical professionals from Children’s Hospital of Seattle, Madigan Medical Army Hospital, MultiCare and various other health organizations, as well as churches and individuals to bring campers to camp and provide a stigma-free, fun, and safe place.
Camp is four days of programs and activities that promote creativity, community building, story-telling, reflection, retreat, fun, freedom of expression, and risk-taking. Important life lessons are taught through experiences on the zip line, climbing wall, team-work, horsemanship, nature walks, and art therapy.
While campers spend time with their counselor, parents are provided with discussion groups to dialogue with one another, as well as free time to relax and rejuvenate. Parents continue to tell staff this is an integral and special part of the REACH community, as they spend time with each other, meet new families, and interact with REACH staff and medical professionals to discuss topics specific to HIV/AIDS, adoption (if applicable), and general family life issues.
Our families have said:
“We felt like we were part of a family from day one. My children felt free to be themselves and they left feeling so good about who they are! I have no doubt in the years to come REACH will be a very important part of our lives and will help my children grow into the confident and loving people they were made to be. THANK YOU!!!!!!” –New Parent
“I am so moved by the love and intentionality of Reach. [In our family] there’s Christmas…and then there’s REACH Camp! It means so much to me and my family. We feel totally loved and accepted here. I don’t know how you do it. We love you all so much.” –Returning Parent
“Our positive son feels that HIV is normalized at REACH. This is HUGE. Connection with other parents over both HIV and non-HIV issues is encouraging.” –Returning Parent