Campfires, s’mores, hiking, challenge courses, star-gazing and making new friends.
That’s what’s in store for survivors of fallen heroes this weekend at the first Hal Bruno Camp.
Over the next few days, the 22 campers from 7-17 will not only enjoy all the usual camping experiences, but healing sessions as well, according to Linda Hurley, who heads family services for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
“Each of them will be assigned a member of the fire service as a buddy,” she said, explaining that all adults involved underwent both background checks and a training session.
Hurley said she was pleased with the number of people who stepped up to volunteer, especially men. Counselors told her that’s not usually the case.
Providing the experience for the children is something Hurley said she’s wanted to do for a long time. Now, with the help of donations from friends of Bruno and State Farm, that dream is becoming a reality.
Throughout his tenure as NFFF chairman of the board, the late Bruno was passionate about helping the families of fallen firefighters. He wanted to assure them that their loved ones would never be forgotten.
Campers and their parent or guardian will attend dinner and an opening session at 4 p.m. Friday at Camp Hanover near Richmond.
After that, the campers will be getting settled in while the adults head back to a local hotel. Hurley said a brief session is set for them tomorrow.
“We want this weekend to be relaxing for them. For many, it may be the first time they’ve been able to do that…”
All costs associated with the weekend are being paid by the NFFF through donations.
Counselors from the Comfort Zone staff -- that operate the camp -- will be on hand to assist the youths, who are coming from Idaho, Wyoming, Alabama, Texas and Nebraska among others.
“We’re hoping the kids will make friends and will stay in touch with one another through social media after this weekend is over,” Hurley said.
More information about the camp experience will be posted on Firehouse.com.