For children who have survived burns, there may be no better opportunity for healing, growth, and camaraderie than attending a burn camp. This summer, I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer as a camp counselor at the Camp Susquehanna burn camp in Denver, Pennsylvania.
Camp Susquehanna is dedicated to providing children with burns the opportunities to face social and physical challenges, develop self-esteem, and promote a positive attitude while encouraging healthy independence. Camp Susquehanna is a safe place for healing, a place for children to share feelings about difficult experiences, perhaps for the first time. Life skills workshops combined with many fun activities ensure that the child with burn injuries enjoys special experiences. Camp Susquehanna strives to have every child meet the goals of building self-esteem, learning responsibility, and developing coping strategies to use outside the camp arena. One way this is accomplished is by providing challenge activities that give children the sense of “conquering” and accomplishment.
Camp Susquehanna was born in 1994 when Alan Breslau, founder of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, met with the Lancaster SERTOMA club to discuss what the club could do to help burn survivors. The first camp was held on the campus of Franklin and Marshall College with eight children attending. In 2017, 48 courageous children attended Camp Susquehanna, in addition to dozens of selfless and dedicated volunteers and the very best leadership team any group could hope for.
This was my first year attending Camp Susquehanna. It was a pleasure and an honor to spend a week with an incredibly talented group of campers. Getting to meet and learn from these young people was inspiring. This year’s attendees faced and overcame physical, mental, and emotional challenges while at the same time making lasting friendships. Camp Susquehanna provided a safe place where campers could be themselves. Many attendees said it was their favorite week of the year!
Activities included traditional games, like kickball, dodgeball, and tug-of-war, through more challenging activities, like climbing walls, an elevated ropes course, and zip lines. Campers raced one another through a peddle-cart course and were able to cool down in the pool. Camp Susquehanna provided a caring and supportive environment where the campers bunked together, ate together, and played together.
The staff organized fun and creative arts and crafts projects that gave the campers time to work on projects together. Daily workshops gave attendees life skills and coping methods to help them in their day-to-day lives.
The week culminated in a banquet for the campers complete with limo rides to the banquet hall! It was an amazing experience for everyone involved. I am so thankful for the opportunity to participate in Camp Susquehanna this year.
Children who have survived burns benefit tremendously from attendance at burn camps. There is no substitute for a safe place where young people can share their common experiences as burn survivors, learn from one another’s experiences and just have a great time in the process. Young burn survivors should be aware of the many fantastic burn camps throughout the nation, including our region’s own incredible Camp Susquehanna.
If you know a child who survived a burn and are looking to provide him or her with an unforgettable and life-changing opportunity, I cannot more highly recommend finding a qualified burn camp. I would be happy to help you locate a burn camp near you.