On a sunny day in 2008, a van of hesitant high school students ventured to Mar Lu Ridge. They were the first group of students to attend a retreat called Teen Haven and weren’t sure what to expect. As Richard sat in the back of the van looking ahead at the other kids, he was skeptical if he had made the right decision…
Following a day of swimming and playing basketball, he realized that for a long time he had lived without friends with whom he could share his deepest secrets and fears–He had HIV/AIDS and lived with the effects every single day.
After one afternoon at Teen Haven, he decided to serve as a junior counselor at the Kids’ Camp later that summer, wishing that he would have been able to attend the camp much earlier in his own life. Richard loved encouraging the younger children –teaching them to be strong and helping them understand that there was no reason to fear the future. Richard came back to volunteer year after year, not only because he could help others but because his own endurance was strengthened by witnessing the courage of his friends.
“The camp means a lot to the campers. They look forward to having one week that’s all about them. Seeing campers come out of their shell, expressing themselves, and leaving with a bigger smile than when they came is why I continue to volunteer.” –Richard
To learn more about Teen Haven visit our website.