Published 10, Sep, 2012

Last week John Henry Rombough-Davie went to a camp for people living with HIV. Here’s his report.

Camp Wendake (Huron for: A place set apart) is a camp for people living with HIV/AIDS and their care-givers, loved ones, and traditional/non-traditional families. The camp has rustic cabins, and it is situated on the beautiful shores of Lake Huron near Bayfield, ON.

Hello again everyone:  Labour Day weekend was another beauty. This summer has been awesome but a little more rain would have been nice.

I just returned from my camping trip last week and all I can say is WOW! The camp is near Bayfield, Ontario and once a year arrangements are made for people living with HIV to attend.  This was my second year and I hope to have many more years attending this magnificent place set apart from everyday reality.  It’s so nice to be in somewhat of a community where you all have something in common, and don’t have to be ashamed or even feel any pressures whatsoever.  The camp is run mostly by volunteers and next year I hope to attend as one. 

I know upon returning from camp my first year I felt an incredible sense of enlightment.  We never stop growing or learning and camp proved this to me through support and caring for one another.   We all know what it’s like to feel wanted  - or not, and through our own means to override stigma, the choices we make become more evident to us.

As I’ve said before I’ve never been much of a good listener…….rather selfish I suppose, but I believe it’s the fast paced world we live in that creates that.  One should always take the time to step back and examine ourselves.  It’s not about us as a single person living in this world, but rather all of us living for one another.

There’s nothing ritualistic about events that take place in our lives, it’s about the realism that we experience about ourselves and each other that matters.  It’s not about growing older and having to find means to believe in something, but rather accepting ourselves and growing from that every day.

Anyway, on arrival I was like a school kid getting off the bus and seeing faces I hadn’t seen for the past year.  It felt like just yesterday we were together and this year it wasn’t as hard to say good-bye until next year.  The important thing to always keep in mind is that we had that time to spend together.  I remember saying this when my best friend passed away last summer………….I’m glad we had the time together that we did.  I’ll be the first to say that life can be scary at times, it’s what you do during those scary moments.  I had the time to build on friendships from last year, as well as make new friendships.  It’s not about meeting once a year, but rather knowing you have people you can trust when you need them. 

A good friend for many of us, and the person responsible for insisting I attend camp also, had to leave the day after we arrived as his mother passed away.  He knew he was leaving with hearts of sorrow and friendships that were sincere on his final journey with his mom.  He had been visiting his mother in the nursing home three days a week for the past nine years………….and pleaded with her not to die while he was at camp.  I suppose she was responsive enough to know he was in good company. 

Besides the human connections, the sunsets on Lake Huron are magnificent as we made our way down to the look-out area. The whole process for me personally was exuberant and mind-boggling to see the wonders of the universe at work.

The universe performing its magic! Wow!........the accomplishments of living with HIV have undoubtedly been performing imagic within us all.  Why do I feel this way? I don’t think it needs explaining, as many of us have felt the purity of our relationships with one another because of it.  (I’m not talking about taking medications or their side effects, or even the loss of life.)

Looking back on the earlier years of HIV/AIDS, known as a plague that was being blamed on the gay community, I still wonder why this all had to happen. Whether you were gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, heterosexual or simply just an individual living on this planet, whatever you considered to be your status, we all felt the impact HIV/AIDS was having on the world at large.

As a former artist I suppose I look at things as a bit of a dreamer………..sort of make believe you might say. I’ve never felt unjust by thinking this way…………..it’s part of what makes an actor an actor.  As I stated in one of my previous blogs, I was fired from the Alberta Ballet Company due to perceived obnoxious behaviour that happened because I felt so strongly about my acting/dancing career. So all of our lives are re-defined by every decision we make, and shape us into something we may or may not have wanted to become. 

Personally, I’m not complaining too much anyhow, I hope……………………….