Young victims of burn injuries can face a long road back to healing, physically and emotionally. It’s easy to feel like an outcast among your peers when you bear the scars of a serious burn. But for one week each summer, these kids can feel just like one of the group as they attend a summer camp for burn injured youth sponsored by the Wisconsin Alliance for Fire Safety (WAFS) in cooperation with Columbia St. Mary’s Regional Regional Burn Center - Milwaukee, Children’s Hospital-Milwaukee, and the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics.
The 2007 WAFS Burn Camp is scheduled for August 11-18 at Camp Timberlee in East Troy. The camp attracts participants, ages 7-17, from all over Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Northern Illinois to spend a week in the great outdoors.
Free to participants, the camp provides transportation, food and lodging along with a variety of activities such as canoeing, swimming, horseback riding, crafts, games, fishing, and nature hikes. The purpose of the camp is to provide for the unique needs of burn injured youth, while they have a great summer experience, meeting new friends who have had similar injuries.
“Many of these kids come from low income families and this may be their only opportunity to go to camp. They get a chance to come to a place that allows them to be free in a safe environment and to help them achieve healthy self-concepts,” said Mary Janowiak, RN, Community Burn Educator with Columbia St. Mary's Regional Burn Center.
The camp can accommodate children with burns of any severity, according to Janowiak. “Some of the burns are relatively small, but others are very serious,’ she said. Nursing staff are on duty 24 hours a day. Medical personnel, firefighters, and other professionals serve as volunteers, including staff from St. Mary’s. Dr. Thomas Schneider of Columbia St. Mary’s is Medical Director of the camp.
“So many people give of their time for these kids,” Janowiak said. Every year, a Harley Davidson motorcycle owners group takes the children on motorcycle rides. Local firefighters will provide rides on their fire trucks. But, there is more to the camp than fun and games. “We want to do more than entertain them,” Janowiak said. “We want them to think about the future and what tool they need to succeed - to come away with some life experiences. In addition, we teach them fire safety, as well as respect and compassion for others.” Last year, the older children took a day trip to the University of Wisconsin to tour the campus. In addition, the WAFS provides an annual college scholarship.
This is the 13th year for the Burn Camp. The first WAFS “Summer Camp for Burn Injured Youth” occurred in August of 1995; there were 22 counselors and staff for 37 campers. Since then the camp has continued to grow. “Response has been so positive. The children look forward to it all year,” Janowiak said.
This year, about 80 children and teens are expected at the Burn Camp. Any child who has suffered a serious burn may attend, according to Janowiak. “You have to be treated for a burn injury to qualify,” she said. Children can return to the camp every year until they are 18 years old. “We hope that the campers will come back as counselors in years to come - and many of them do.”
For information on registering a camper or volunteering as a counselor at Burn Camp, call
Directions to Camp Timberlee:
Take I-43 south to Beloit. Exit Hwy. 20 in East Troy. Turn west/right on to Hwy 20. Go west for 6 miles. At Hwy. N, turn north/right. Follow N to the stop sign. Turn left on to Hwy. J. Follow J to Scout Road. Turn right on Scout Road. Go about a quarter mile. Camp Timber-lee will be on your left. Media/Visitor Day is from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.