CAMP HIGH FIVE 2021 UPDATE
As you are aware, the COVID- 19 pandemic has taken another turn this summer, and cases throughout the country have spiked again. The numbers have increased 25-fold in Georgia since mid-June. Therefore, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel the October camp session this year.
A year ago, the virus was primarily impacting our seniors and those with certain health conditions. However, this summer, healthcare staff are seeing significant increases in children admitted to the hospital and intensive care units with COVID-19 in Georgia and neighboring states. The number of pediatric COVID-19 cases is increasing every day.
As vaccination, mask-wearing and social-distancing go a long way toward stopping the spread of viruses, we initially thought to fully enforce these safety measures and proceed with our long weekend. However, with the presence of the easily-transmitted Delta variant and the fact that children under 12 cannot be vaccinated, we realized that strict guidelines such as wearing masks in the cabins at night would be unreasonable to ask. There may be campers and staff who are particularly at risk for serious COVID-19 infection due to health conditions. We have also considered the fact that in the unfortunate event a camper is infected, but does not have symptoms, they can still carry the virus home to family members at risk for serious illness. Knowing that flu season is right around the comer, this added another layer of worry about bringing everyone together for the long weekend.
We know that campers have been looking forward to getting together for camp again this year. We are considering hosting a one-day, (preferably) outdoor, masked event for the children the same Saturday we would have been at camp (10/9). We will let you know if we choose to proceed with this option.
Our healthcare staff continue to encourage everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated against COVID- 19, as this is THE BEST way to stop the spread of this virus so we can get together again. We are deeply saddened by having to make this choice, but believe it is in the best interests of the health and safety of our HERO children, staff, volunteers and their families. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.
CAMP HIGH FIVE HISTORY
Camp High Five was founded in March of 2000 by Ms. Bonnie Minter (who then worked as a Nurse Practitioner at Grady Hospital's Infectious Disease Program Clinic) to provide camping and other group recreational activities for children who are HIV infected and affected. The first summer camp was held in August 2001. Central to Camp High Five's program is its week-long residential, summer camping adventure at Camp Twin Lakes near Rutledge, Georgia. Camp Twin Lakes is a rustic setting approximately one hour from Atlanta that was established specifically for the purpose of providing opportunities for camping for medically fragile children. Camp High Five was acquired by H.E.R.O. for Children, Inc. in January of 2010, as the camp's purpose fits well within the organization's mission.
Historically, Camp High Five is a sleepover camp for one week during the summer. A typical camp day begins at 7 AM with the opportunity to participate in many fun activities. Camp activities include archery, horseback riding, boating, canoeing, swimming, fishing, arts and crafts, gold panning, music, dancing, sports and games, pottery, biking plus many other fun activities. Camp High Five offers campers the opportunity to learn important recreational life skills.
ABOUT OUR CAMPERS & THE SOCIAL BENEFITS OF CAMP HIGH FIVE
A typical camper for Camp High Five is HIV infected or affected (has an infected parent, sibling, residential relative or has lost a family member due to HIV/AIDS-related complications). The staff and volunteers strive to provide an atmosphere that is free from the worries, fear, stigma, and hassles of living with HIV. Youth attending Camp High Five have the opportunity to be around other children with the same life experiences and will not have to feel different or strange. Sometimes, the camp may be the first time that these children have been around other children living with HIV. By alleviating the hassles of a chronic illness and removing the stigma, Camp High Five seeks to provide emotional support and recreational fun for HIV affected children living with HIV.
Eligible campers are age 6-16, but the average age is 13-14 years old. Most campers come from an impoverished home, without the resources to spend on a summer camp experience. Many of these children are growing up in an atmosphere of fear and shame without ever experiencing the real joys of childhood.