Camp Viva

Camp VIVA is FSW’s program for individuals, children and families living in Westchester County and the Bronx who are infected with — or affected by — HIV/AIDS. Camp VIVA celebrated its 25th anniversary in Summer 2019.

The VIVA community has come to think of itself as an extended family that includes the FSW staff, volunteers and friends of the program who support our VIVA campers and their families by working at the camp and/or participating in VIVA fundraising activities throughout the year.

Why Camp VIVA?

Living with HIV/AIDS is often a lonely, isolating and stressful daily experience. Our campers tell us that one of the most lasting benefits of Camp VIVA is feeling loved and supported throughout the year by a community of people who truly care.

As one of our young campers recently put it, “Living with HIV or AIDS gives you a feeling of not belonging, of being separate and no longer part of the world. At Camp VIVA, you belong to a family who accepts, supports and loves you for who you are.”

Get Involved with Camp Viva!

Camp VIVA’s year-round program has four parts:

  1. Summer Sleepaway Camp: Every August, Camp VIVA hosts a 5-day summer sleepaway camp at the Ramapo Anchorage Camp for Children in Rhinebeck, NY. See below to begin the application process.
  2. Reunions and Get-Togethers: VIVA reunions and other social activities throughout the year provide VIVA families with ongoing opportunities for reconnection and respite from the stressors of daily life.
  3. Medical and Educational Support: VIVA’s year-round follow-up program helps families get the support and educational information they need to live more healthfully and to become strong community advocates for healthy behavior.
  1. Volunteer and Fundraising Support: Camp VIVA’s success depends on FSW’s loyal, engaged community of volunteers and donors, many of whom have been supporting Camp Viva for decades. For example, Camp Viva’s Spring Reunion is hosted every year by a group of dedicated supporters at the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale. Campers and their families gather to enjoy food, activities, and arts and crafts, as well as Camp Viva’s famous “Free Shop” filled with donated new and gently used clothing, toys and books. Donate Today

What is a week at Camp VIVA like?

Camp VIVA’s 5-day sleep-away camp is held each August. The Camp VIVA team consists of psychologists and social workers, educators, nurses, and spiritual leaders, supplemented by a group of talented and committed volunteers. Onsite medical care is available around the clock.

A typical week’s activities include arts and crafts, drama, music, movement, swimming, boating, fishing, zip-lining and Tai-Kwon-do. From movie nights to talent shows to a disco night for the teens and grownups, activities are arranged by age group and team building is emphasized.

Camp VIVA also offers educational seminars on a wide variety of topics such as medication management, nutrition, financial planning and budgeting, effective communication and stress reduction/management.

How can I (or a family member) apply to attend Camp VIVA?

To apply to become a camper, you or a family member must:

  • Be a Resident of Westchester or The Bronx: Campers must be residents of Westchester County or The Bronx.
  • Have an HIV/AIDS Diagnosis: Campers must either be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS or have an immediate family member who has been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. If one member of the family is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, as many as five (5) members of his or her immediate family may also attend.
  • Obtain and Fill Out Our Application: Applications for Camp Viva can be obtained through your Social Worker or Medical Case Manager or by calling (914) 964-6767, Extension 126 for more information.
  • Young Child Policies: Children must be bathroom trained and must attend with at least one parent or legal guardian. We do not accept children under 4 years of age.
  • Referrals: All children/families must be referred by a community organization, hospital or medical facility.
  • Interviews: All potential campers will be interviewed to ensure appropriateness and readiness for Camp VIVA. For information about how to refer an individual or family to Camp VIVA, please contact (914) 964-6767, Ext. 126.

How can I apply to volunteer at Camp VIVA?

Each year, volunteers from all walks of life join our VIVA family and devote a week of their time and energy to providing our campers with a safe, fun-filled and supportive camp experience. Volunteer counselors work with either child, teen or adult campers.

In the role of counselors, volunteers facilitate camper participation in multiple daily activities and workGroup of camp counselors wearing Camp Viva t-shirts collectively to provide structure for the event. Some volunteers may also have a particular talent to share at camp and are encouraged to specialize in activities such as arts and crafts, music, sports, theater, and movement.

  • Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Volunteers must be cleared through the State Central Registry.
  • Volunteers must be able to stay for the full week of camp. There are also opportunities for Day Volunteers if you cannot commit to the full week of camp.

To Volunteer for the Week at Camp VIVA:

Please fill out our 2020 New Volunteer Application if you would like to apply to join our amazing group of volunteers for the entire weeklong session.

To Volunteer for the Day at Camp VIVA:

Please fill out the New Day Volunteers form if you are interested in sharing a gift or skill with our campers during a 1-hour session.

How can I support Camp VIVA?

To Make a Financial Contribution:

Camp VIVA relies entirely on the generosity of private donors and foundations. The program receives no government funding.

That means that without your support, our VIVA campers and their families would have no opportunity to enjoy a week filled with fun, new experiences and the chance for a break from the daily stresses of living with HIV/AIDS.

We make every penny count and we greatly appreciate donations of any amount. Please click here to make a monetary donation.

To Donate Supplies to Camp VIVA:

Keeping nearly 100 families busy for a week requires a lot of supplies! Please consider helping out by donating items from this year’s Camp Viva Wish List. To donate these or other items, please call us at (914) 924-3761.

Contact Information:

Alphonso Simmons, MSW, CASACT, PRC, Offsite Director
914-964-6767, Ext. 115