F2B support camp 2022
Who came to camp?
73 children and young people, aged from 11 to 17 years old and living with HIV from across the UK and Ireland.
What does camp aim to do?
F2B aims to offer support to young people living with HIV and to:
- Enable them to meet other young people living with HIV who share their experiences and help them feel less isolated
- Improve their knowledge and understanding of HIV so that they feel better equipped to live well with HIV
- Feel more confident about their futures, to believe they can achieve their hopes and aspirations
The theme for camp this year was ‘My future self’.
What did we do at camp?
There were two HIV Knowledge workshops, the first of them included topics such as: what is HIV; transmission; what does it mean to be ‘undetectable’ and included a true or false quiz.
A second workshop covered: what is stigma; HIV history and how the Equality Act protects people living with HIV from discrimination. In small groups the children and young people were tasked with designing an HIV awareness campaign aimed at young people.
Young people really engaged with the sessions and had lots of questions. The workshops helped explore these sometimes complex questions young people hold, and can find difficult to talk about.
Sexual health workshops were run in small groups of same gender, similar aged young people, providing a safe space for questions and discussion around aspects of sexual health and HIV, and more space to talk about healthy and safe, age appropriate relationships.
Children and young people were given an HIV quiz sheet to fill in at the beginning and end of camp. 62% of questions were answered correctly at the start of camp. By the end of camp this rose to 73%.
“I’ve learned more about HIV and more about myself by taking part in the workshops.” Camp participant
“I’ve learned I can still have a family while having HIV.” Camp participant
Many previous camp participants have remained involved with Chiva in different ways and some come back as volunteer camp leaders, key workers, workshop facilitators and as part of the staff team.
One key worker was designated to each small group of children or young people to give them personalised support throughout camp.
We had ‘TED style’ talks from two young adults living with HIV who were key workers. Both gave a powerful reflection on their own journeys with HIV.
One shared some of the difficulties he had faced when he had first had HIV named to him.
He had found it hard to take part in Chiva camp the first year he came but came every year for years after that and later joined the Chiva Youth Committee. He talked about how he had gained confidence between that first camp experience and now. He encouraged the young people to be brave and seek support from the Chiva community as they grow up.
“I’ve learned it’s okay to be worried and there’s other people like you.” Camp participant
Chiva Youth Committee (CYC)
The CYC – a group of young people aged 12 – 18 who get involved in a number of projects and campaigns with Chiva – did a survey with the camp participants about medicine. The CYC will use the findings from the survey to create a new resourceleaflet to help other young people living with HIV learn about the different types of HIV medicines, including any side effects and any top tips on how to manage these.
Creative ways of exploring HIV
The creative day offered workshops based on music, drama, art, yoga and sport. For many young people who find talking about feelings more challenging, the creative and art-based workshops offer an alternative way of exploring HIV and expressing feelings.
In the art workshop, young people were asked to make a picture about their future self. The range of artwork that appeared was awe inspiring, and they all produced something meaningful for them.
We were lucky enough to have It’s A Sin actor Nathaniel J Hall lead drama workshops with the young people. As a person living with HIV himself, he definitely helped to create greater aspirations for the future among the young people. Nathaniel enjoyed camp so much he stayed to take part in some of the other arts workshops.
The young people took part in instructor-led outdoor activities in between workshops and creative activities. These included abseiling, high ropes and canoeing. They provided a lot of fun, but also helped to build confidence and enabled young people to build friendships and support each other.
“I learned that I can enjoy things I didn’t expect to enjoy e.g. abseiling.” Camp participant
Evening activities included: a pampering session, bake off contest, dance sessions such as Salsa and Bhangra, basketball and yoga, so there was something for everyone to enjoy.
On the last evening the young people had the option of attending the party, watching a film or playing games.
“F2B has meant meeting new people, making friends, trying new things, facing challenges and having fun.” Camp participant
In the end of camp evaluation we ask young people what they learned from being at camp. Lots of young people said they had learned to be more confident and that they can be anything they want to be in the future.
Many said that being at F2B meant being able to express themselves freely, being comfortable in themselves, feeling less alone and feeling part of a big family.
“I have made amazing friendships with people I can now consider as family.” Camp participant
82% of young people said they plan to keep in touch with people they met at F2B this year.
“Just because you have HIV that doesn’t mean you can’t do what you want to do. Always believe yourself. Never give up and just enjoy life. It can be scary sometimes and I totally get that but remember just keep doing what’s best for you even though you have HIV.”