Another reason to be proud of our profession!
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Under a sapphire sky, a pitched battle
After nearly a week of rain, children and counselors at Camp
Holiday Trails were letting out some pent-up energy with a water
It was just a typical day at Camp Holiday Trails. The kids were
so busy having fun, they didn't seem to notice their scars.
Camp Holiday Trails, officially known as the Central Virginia
Burn Camp, is a summer camp in Charlottesville for children who
have suffered burns. The camp is run mostly by firefighters from
around the state, as well as teachers and medical professionals.
It provides a summer camp experience in an environment in which
children needn't feel self-conscious about their burns, which range
from some scarring on limbs to hair loss and facial disfigurement.
This year's camp, the 10th summer camp, had 30 campers and 28
counselors. Camp organizers strive for a one-to-one ratio, and each
camper is assigned to a counselor, said counselor Leslie Baruch, an
occupational therapist at University of Virginia Hospital's burn
Baruch said the camp has never rejected an eligible child,
though would-be counselors sometimes are turned away because of an
abundance of applicants. Many of the campers attend year after
year, she said.
Children are referred through doctors, hospitals or clinics and
are in varying states of recovery. Some still have wounds that must
be covered with "compression suits." The suits are used to apply
pressure to burned tissue, rendering it flat. This allows the
burned area to heal in a more even and uniform manner to reduce
All campers come with a burn history and list of medications
provided to the camp nurse. The camp maintains a somewhat rigorous
8 a.m. to 10 p.m. schedule, including swimming, hikes and an
obstacle course, and each child's medical needs are taken into
consideration, Baruch said.
"Not everybody can do everything," she said.
A trip to Lake Anna, near Culpeper, and swimming in the
campground pool were big hits with all the campers, said Sarah
Smith, a second-year counselor and a technician 2 with the Prince
William County Department of Fire and Rescue.
The camp is free to children who qualify, and is funded through
contributions from the International Association of Firefighters,
participating fire departments and the nonprofit group Aluminum
Cans for Burned Children.
Like any summer camp, Camp Holiday Trails includes outdoor
activities, arts and crafts and plenty of swimming, as well as the
obligatory sparsely furnished cabins. This year's camp at the end
of June included the added joy of relentless rain, forcing
counselors to improvise.
"Schedule changes every day," camp co-director Tim Wright
said. "Nine months of planning scrapped in one week. We went ice
skating - that wasn't on the schedule."
Doty Powell of Chesapeake and Billy Robb of Bedford were two
campers not the least bit dismayed by the schedule changes.
Billy, at camp for the second year, said ice skating was
"double the fun" of the rope course it replaced.
Billy, 14, who Doty half-jokingly referred to as the "camp
stud," sat around in the summer heat Friday without a shirt,
unconcerned about the spider web of scars covering his left
forearm. He seemed half-amused, half-embarassed by the love notes
he said he got from four girls, ages 7 to 9.
The scars came from a bonfire accident almost two years ago. As
he was throwing fuel on the fire, fumes ignited, causing a steam of
flame to briefly engulf his arm. He said he panicked at first, then
remembered to stop, drop and roll. When he returned home, his
mother rushed him into a cold shower before taking him to the
Billy said he'll keep coming to the camp each year he is able,
adding that he hadn't wanted to leave last year.
Another camper, Doty looks younger than her 16 years. She talks
in quick animated bursts about anything and everything, and said
she enjoyed her third year at the camp despite scheduling changes.
Doty said she has bonded with her counselor, Joanne Pascar.
"She's kind of a free spirit like me ... If I'm feeling bad,
she knows how to cheer me up," Doty said.
Doty talks easily about her accident, telling the story as if
she has told it many times before.
She vividly remembers the day - Aug. 9, 1999 - she spilled
boiling water on her arms while cooking. The scars were more severe
than they could have been because treatment was delayed when the
911 operator thought her brother was joking when he called. She
waited an extra 15 minutes for her mother to get home and call 911
again. The resulting scars cover her left arm and across her upper
While she was out of school for treatment, rumors ran wild, and
when she returned, Doty heard that her brother had doused her in
gasoline and set fire to her. She said she once overheard a girl
saying that she "deserved" to get burned.
Doty says the camp is a respite from the stares and rude
questions that she has gotten used to over the years.
"There's complete acceptance," she said. "Back home everybody
knows and they're cool with it, but they don't know how it feels.
Here there's a bond because everybody went through the same
Though the camp is for children who were burned, the wounds are
almost beside the point, campers and counselors said.
"It's a week they don't have to feel like anyone is picking on
them or staring at them," said Smith, who characterized the camp
as a "positive normal experience."
The focus on fun was a pleasant surprise to Neiman Darayand, 14,
of Fairfax, who was at camp for the first time this year.
"I thought we were all going to talk about how we got burned,
but I guess this is a place where you forget about the bad times
and remember the good times," Neiman said.
The Potomac News is published in Woodbridge.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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07-16-2003, 11:28 PM #1
Camp Holiday Trails-Run by FF's for burned childrenProudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones
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On the web at www.section2wildfire.com
07-23-2003, 04:51 PM #2expvolFirehouse.com Guest
are there any programs similar to this one or any other community programs near Kansas, okla, nebraska, missouri, I havent heard about any but would love to get involved. I am what you would call a "community service junkie."
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