(Locator: Johnson City, Tenn.)
It started as a place to comfort those who were dying.
Buddy Loveridge/Strength for the Journey Participant: “I was so
Now, it’s a place where AIDS patients learn how to live.
Participant: “Things get easier.”
Nat/Campers in canoes: “You’re free.”
Twice a year, the United Methodist church’s Buffalo Mountain Camp in
east Tennessee hosts week-long retreats for adults living with HIV and
Participant: “I can just let it go here.”
With medical advances, some of these campers have survived twenty years.
Still, new treatments haven’t taken away the stigma of this disease.
Buddy Loveridge/Strength for the Journey Participant: “I missed out on
seeing my nieces and nephews grow up, because they were not allowed to
be near me.”
Ginny West-Case/Buffalo Mountain Camp Director: “We had one man who, his
family made him eat on only disposable paper ware.”
Campers meet each day to discuss their challenges.
Darrell Fleeman/Strength for the Journey Participant: “It was two years
before I even told anybody.”
Stuffed animals hold the phone numbers of their group leaders, in case
campers feel suicidal.
Nat/Strength for the Journey Counselor: “And we want you to make a
covenant with us, that before you do anything, you’ll give one of us a
Affirmation notes keep spirits up, when they come down from the
Buddy Loveridge/Buffalo Mountain Camp Participant: “I have a drawer at
home and when bad things happen, I go to that drawer and pull them out
and remember the good times.”
And one thing there’s no shortage of on Buffalo Mountain is a caring
Ginny West-Case/Buffalo Mountain Camp Director: “Some of them are so
hungry for touch and to feel that somebody’s not afraid to touch them
and not afraid to hug them.”
Strength for the Journey Camper: “My family’s here.”
The United Methodist church also sponsors Strength for the Journey camps
near Los Angeles. The ministry started more than 15 years ago.
For more information about the Tennessee program, contact the
Conference Center at 865-690-4080