Nova Scotia Firefighters Burn Treatment Society Summer Burn Camp 2000

40 burn survivors along with their guests attended the 3rd Annual Summer Burn Camp put on by the Nova Scotia Firefighters Burn Treatment Society, the QE II burn unit, volunteer staff from the IWK Grace burn unit, the Nova Scotia Burn Support Group, and the office of the Fire Marshall. The camp was held at the Salavation Army’s Scotian Glen Camp in Sutherlands River, Nova Scotia.

While there are other burn camps across the country, this camp is unique due to the fact that our campers range in ages from 6 to 84. This is the only camp in North America that allows burn survivors of all ages to attend as campers, and also allows them to bring a guest. The mix of children and adult burn survivors really opens up some great opportunities. The children get to meet adult burn survivors as their equals, not as counselors, so they have the chance to share their experiences on a one to one basis. The children look up to these adult survivors and realize that yes, life can be good and they can still be a productive member of society. Many of the adult survivors have successful careers and family life and serve as a positive role model for the younger campers.

On the flip side of this, the children also serve an important role to the adults as well. Surving burns is as much a mental healing as well as a physical one.  Children can often get the adult burn survivor to open up to them and share with them their feelings and experiences. If the adult has been keeping some of these feelings bottled up inside, just talking to the children can be a healing process. While an adult may hide these feelings from society and other adults, they sometimes feel more comfortable sharing them with children. Once they start to talk about them, they begin the process of healing inside.

The campers participated in typical camp activities, swimming, canoeing, sports, crafts, archery, and campfires. There were also some special programs arranged. For example: Valerie Marshall, from the Bay Department store, put on a demonstration using Dermablend, a special make up for burn survivors; Sarah Baille, from Stillpoint Naturopathic Clinic, lectured on pain management and stress relief, Chief Lifeline and his fire safety house reminded everyone to have an up to date fire escape plan for their home.

In addition some other high-lites of camp were: a fun filled evening of games and a bar-be-que hosted by the Pictou County Firefighters Association, a visit from the Pictou County Antique Car Club who delighted both young and old with their cars, and a visit from several members of the Shriners, along with their “Jolly Trolley”. This turned out to be an unexpected reunion for them and some of the adult burn survivors who had been helped by the Shriners as children.

A special guest at camp this year was Dennis Gardin from Detroit. Dennis was severely burnt as a child, and is now a motivational speaker. Through his company, Life Worx Inc., he attends burn camps through out the world offering therapeutic support to burn survivors.

Plans are now being made for next year’s camp, which will be held again at Scotian Glen Camp. The summer burn camp is free of charge to burn survivors and their guest. If you know of someone who could benefit from this camp, or if you would like more information, please contact the Nova Scotia Firefighters Burn Treatment Society at 902-835-0166