What do you think of when you hear the words “summer camp?” Fun, adventure, new friends? Summer camp invokes memories of all of these things. But for children with burn injuries, summer camp can feel like it is off the agenda—at least until they are fully healed. Luckily this is no longer true—there are a growing number of options in the form of specialized burn camps that cater to the needs of pediatric burn victims.
Children with burn injuries sometimes have difficulty performing common tasks due to physical damage. Some have problems with social interaction due to pain, isolation, or scars. Others may require continuous treatment—sometimes daily; sometimes weekly or monthly. Summer camps are seldom set up to meet the needs of these specialized functional and medical requirements. This is where the burn camp comes in.
Camp Susquehanna is one of these specialized summer burn camps. It was inspired by Alan Breslau, founder of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, and made a reality by the Lancaster SERTOMA club. The 4 day camp for children ages 7-17 takes place every summer on the grounds of the Refreshing Mountain Retreat Center in Stevens, Pennsylvania. In 2017, the camp will be held from June 22-June 25th.
Camp Susquehanna has a full range of medical support staff including burn nurses, mental health professionals, physical, occupational, and recreational therapists. The program goal is to offer “a place for healing” where children can socialize and share their feelings with other children affected by burns; and also attend workshops to promote well-being and confidence.
Like other summer camps, Susquehanna has swimming, hiking, nature walks, art classes, climbing walls, music, games, and campfires. It even has a zip-line adventure.
Key to the success of Susquehanna and other camps is sponsorship by local and national groups and private donors. These donations support the camp costs and all attendance. At Susquehanna, all campers attend free of charge—they are sponsored by the M. Elvin Byler Memorial Sertoma Club, Burn Prevention Network, and other donors.
Part of the healing process for pediatric burn victims is to realize they are not alone; they can still go to school, have friends, and enjoy community activities. Burn camps work toward this goal, providing children with integrative experiences and a positive outlook for the future.
If you are interested in the 2017 burn camp program at Camp Susquehanna you can apply on the camp’s website under “Camper Info.” Campers do not need to be local to Pennsylvania to attend. A good starting resource for other camps is the International Association of Burn Camps (IABC). General information about burn camps is also available at the Phoenix Society.
Recovering from a major burn injury isn’t easy, especially for children. It can be an exhausting, painful process requiring months in the hospital and repeated surgeries that eat away at savings and insurance limits. Unfortunately insurance companies sometimes deny coverage even when treatment is justified. If you or anyone you know has suffered a serious burn injury you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney who is familiar with third party liability. You should also choose an attorney who knows how to work effectively with insurance carriers to get the right amount of support for long-term care.