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Illinois' Camp For Young Burn Survivors Provides Emotional Support, Week Of Fun To Those Affected By Injuries

From June 16 - 22, nearly 70 burn-injured children between the ages of eight and 16 will attend Camp "I Am Me" - Illinois' camp for young burn survivors.

The 29th annual week-long camp is hosted by the nonprofit Illinois Fire Safety Alliance at YMCA Camp Duncan in Ingleside, and features a wide array of camp activities as well as special activities that deal with the specific needs of burn survivors. Donations received from individuals, groups and businesses across Illinois allow for Camp "I Am Me" to be fully funded for the families, which would otherwise cost approximately $2,400 per camper.


"Camp 'I Am Me' is a truly unique camp that allows young children who have been burned by scalding water, chemicals, fire, or electricity to be in a judgement-free environment with others who have gone through similar experiences," says Philip Zaleski, executive director of the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance. "Through our work with hospital burn units, the State Fire Marshal's Office, and fire departments across the state we hope to reach all burn-injured children in Illinois so they can benefit from our support program."


Campers at Camp "I Am Me" can participate in nearly 50 activities, from horseback riding and archery to escape rooms and cardboard boat races. But the activities that may have the biggest impact are those designed specifically for emotional healing. Through character development, journaling, and therapeutic sessions that help build self-confidence, they are able to take advantage of resources often not available in their hometowns.


"When the children attend camp, they find that they are not alone," Zaleski said. "The physical and emotional recovery from their burns is taken on from a community approach in which everyone helps and learns from each other. They don't have to hide or be afraid to be themselves. Instead, they learn how to become more confident and bring that confidence back home."


The positive impact of Camp "I Am Me" is evident as more than one-third of the camp volunteers are former campers, returning and dedicating their time to help the campers, just as they were helped years earlier. In addition, members of the fire service, medical community and others volunteer their time resulting in a one to one volunteer to camper ratio.


Camp "I Am Me" 2018.


Comments welcome.


Posted on June 5, 2019

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