Every Family Needs Time to Rest, Relax, and Have Fun Together!
Red Ribbon Trails is a retreat program for Illinois families affected by HIV/AIDS with children between the ages of two and seventeen. Each year, we hold a summer camp at the Timber Pointe Outdoor Center on Lake Bloomington and a spring retreat at an indoor site near Bloomington, Illinois.
Red Ribbon Trails is unique because of its emphasis on the entire family and the community. At the 2008 annual HIV/STD Conference in Springfield, FCAN’s Red Ribbon Trails program was selected to receive the “In Your Own Backyard” award for exceptional work in HIV/STD community education. During the retreats, children and adults participate in sessions tailored to their age group as well as activities for the entire family. Additional legal consultation and social service referrals are available throughout the year for participants.
Please see the descriptions below or click on the following links for more detailed information: services available to families, spring and summer camp activities, comments from campers, and application process for families and volunteers.
SERVICES AVAILABLE TO FAMILIES
Retreats offer family members:
- Support from other families facing similar life-situations
- Education and information about HIV/AIDS
- Activities that will help children and adults discuss their feelings and concerns
- An opportunity to enjoy time as a family
- Parenting education and support
- Grief counseling and support
- Recreational activities
- Freedom from the social stigma and isolation experienced by HIV-affected families
- Opportunities to create long-lasting family memories
FCAN has worked with the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation (CAAF) Camp Network to develop its treatment approach. Our Red Ribbon Trails program has been recognized as a successful model by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center. Volunteer opportunities are also available during camp sessions and throughout the year to assist with the collaborative planning committee.
SPRING AND SUMMER RETREAT ACTIVITIES
The three-day and two-night Spring Retreat is held at an indoor facility in or near Bloomington, IL.
In addition to therapeutic and educational groups, children and adults participate in camp activities such as:
- Arts & Crafts
The four-day and three-night Summer Retreats are held each year at Timber Pointe Outdoor Center on Lake Bloomington in Hudson, IL.
In addition to therapeutic and educational groups, the summer retreat offers the following camp activities:
- Horseback Riding
- Arts & Crafts
- Scavenger Hunts
- Camp Fires
COMMENTS FROM CAMPERS
Campers and volunteers have consistently said that their experiences with Red Ribbon Trails have been positive and many families continue to return year after year. Here is what some of our campers have had to say about why they enjoy attending Red Ribbon Trails:
- “It’s a chance to spend a stress-free weekend as a family.”
- “I can be me and let my guard down. I don’t have to hide my medicine or secrets about HIV. I get a chance to release and share. I can laugh and be free at camp.”
- “It’s good for my daughter and I to be around other people who are in similar situations. I like being with the friends I’ve made over the years.”
- “It helps me to hear other people talk about their problems because then I know that it’s not just me hurting.”
APPLICATION PROCESS FOR FAMILIES AND VOLUNTEERS
Application Process for Families
Each family must complete and submit one Family Application and a Camper Application for each family member who will be attending camp.
When applying for camp, please keep the following in mind:
- Campers must submit an application in order to be considered for acceptance.
- Children must be accompanied by an adult who is the custodial parent or legal guardian of the child.
- Children must be between the ages of 2 and 17 years old.
- All campers are expected to participate fully (health permitting) in camp activities.
- Please complete all questions because failure to do so may delay the application process.
- Please complete one Family Application and a Camper Application for each family member who will be attending.
Download a Family Application, or apply online.
Download a Camper Application, or apply online.
Application Process for Volunteers
Each volunteer must complete an application and be willing to undergo a background check.
When applying to be a volunteer, we consider the following criteria:
- Volunteers must be 18 or older.
- Ability to pass a background screening administered by the Department of Child and Family Services.
- We prefer volunteers to be knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS and its effects on families.
- Experience working with children and/or teenagers.
- A willingness to approach camp with an open mind and a desire to learn.
- It is critical for volunteers to act in a culturally sensitive manner and to respect families’ confidentiality.
If you have additional questions regarding Red Ribbon Trails or the application process, please contact Deborah Vazquez at (312) 855-9000 or