From June 16-20, 50 burn-injured children between the ages of 8 and 20 will attend Camp “I Am Me.” Hosted by the nonprofit Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, the weeklong program takes place at the YMCA Camp Duncan in Ingleside, located near the Illinois-Wisconsin boarder. The camp features a wide array of camp activities and skill periods as well as specialized sessions that deal with the specific needs of burn survivors. Generous donations from individuals, businesses, and fire departments allow the program to be offered to families at no-cost, which would otherwise cost approximately $2,400 per camper. This year’s camp also represents the 30th anniversary of Illinois’ camp for young burn survivors!
“Camp ‘I Am Me’ is a truly unique camp that allows young children who have been burned by scalding water, chemicals, fire, or electricity to be in a judgment-free environment with others who have shared similar experiences,” says Philip Zaleski, Executive Director of the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance. “Through our work and coordination with hospital burn units, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and fire departments across the state, we hope to reach all burn-injured children in Illinois so they can benefit from this camp.”
Campers at Camp “I Am Me” can participate in nearly 50 activities, including horseback riding, swimming, and archery. But the activities that may have the biggest impact are those designed specifically for emotional healing. Through character development, journaling, and therapeutic sessions that help build self-esteem, the children are able to take advantage of unique resources often not available in their hometowns.
“Camp provides a safe place for my son to be with other kids, and adults for that matter, who have also been burned. This provides a sense of belonging and a feeling that he isn’t alone in dealing with his scars. Camp “I Am Me” pushes my son to reach beyond himself and to take chance,” notes a parent of a camper.
The positive impact of Camp “I Am Me is evident as over one-third of camp volunteers each year are former campers. In addition, members of the fire service and medical community, as well as educators and others from the private sector, volunteer an entire week of their time for a nearly one volunteer to one camper ratio.
For more information about the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance’s Camp “I Am Me,” additional survivor support programs, and fire safety and burn prevention resources, visit www.IFSA.org.
About the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance: Since 1982, the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance (IFSA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has been promoting and disseminating fire safety and burn prevention materials and resources. The IFSA also hosts a variety of support programs for burn survivors including the young adult support, Family Day events, and Camp “I Am Me,” a unique weeklong camp for children who have experienced severe burn injuries. For more information, visit www.IFSA.org.
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