From July 31 -August 5, more than 70 children with severe burn injuries will have a chance to do what kids do best – have fun and make friends.
Established in 1987, Camp Beyond the Scars celebrates its 26th year and is one of the Burn Institute’s most successful burn survivor support programs specifically designed for burn-injured children, 5-17 years. This year’s campers come from five California counties (Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego) and three states (Arizona, Nevada and Texas). The program provides important tools in a supportive atmosphere where each child can learn how to deal with the emotional and physical hardships they face as a result of their burn injury. Held in an environment with caring counselors and fellow burn survivors, young campers build self-esteem and improve coping skills. For many, the weeklong camp is the first time they have the opportunity to meet other young burn survivors just like themselves.
The Burn Institute provides this camp free of charge to burn-injured children. The public can now easily help send a kid to camp by to texting a one-time $5.00 donation to BURN at 20222. The charge will be added to your monthly cell phone bill. People can donate multiple times.
This year’s summer program will be held at Oakbridge Camp located in Ramona. Throughout the week, campers will participate in a variety of activities, including swimming and water sports, rock wall climbing, a ropes course, laser tag, skate boarding at the camp skate park, frisbee golf, a talent show, biking, hiking, a visit from therapy pets, crafts, a drum circle movie night and cooling off on a field trip to the Coronado Aquatic Center.
“We are so excited to welcome so many new campers this year,” stated Dana Kuhn, Program Services Manager for the Burn Institute. “Our focus will be on support group sessions as well as utilizing this week together to provide the best support available and give new and old campers some life lessons that will help them cope, manage and deal with their burn injuries.”
“It has been heart- warming for me to get to know these kids over the years and watch them grow up and flourish,” said James Floros, Burn Institute Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer. “Our camp provides the opportunity for them to form long-term bonds and to build self-esteem.”
This year’s camp will also emphasize the power of a positive attitude. Campers will learn tools to guide them through difficult circumstances. Workshops and support groups are designed for both teens and pre-teens. Also, once again this year, families dropping off their campers will be invited to a one-hour family support group.
Camp counselors include off-duty firefighters, UCSD Regional Burn Center staff, medical staff, educators and adult burn survivors who volunteer their time for the entire week. “Camp Beyond The Scars allows burn-injured children to be kids again — and not worry about looking different from everyone else,” said Arnell Garcia, Camp Director and San Diego-Fire Rescue Captain. Garcia is himself a burn survivor who understands the importance of peer support and the challenges these youngsters face every day. “Camp is a place where these kids can come and just have fun,” he said.