I.A.F.F. National Childrens' Burn Camp

 

The International Association of Fire Fighters recently held its 5th National Children's Burn Camp from September 25 to October 1, 1999 in Washington D.C.


There were four burn camps from Canada, and forty from across the United States that were invited to attend. Each camp was asked to send an I.A.F.F. member, firefighter/counselor, and a camper between the age of 13 to 15.


The Nova Scotia Firefighters' Burn Treatment Society, one of the Canadian camps invited, chose David Collier, a firefighter with the Department of National Defense, and 14 year old Sherry Carruthers to represent them.

 

Photo from left to right
Sherry Carruthers, Fredericton, New Brunswick
Alfred Whitehead, General President, International Association of FireFighters
David Collier, Chair, Nova Scotia Firefighters' Burn Treatment Society and firefighter,Department of National Defense

 

David Collier was instrumental in starting the Nova Scotia Firefighters' Burn Treatment Society Summer Burn Camp two years ago, and acts as the Camp Director as well as Counselor.


Sherry Carruthers is from Fredericton, New Brunswick, and attended the Nova Scotia Firefighters' Burn Treatment Society Summer Burn Camps as well as one put on by the Cape Breton Firefighters Burn Care Society.
Sherry was 14 months old when she was severely burned by hot water. She sustained burns to 48 percent of her body, including her arms, legs and back. She spent seven months at the IWK Grace Health Centre Burn Unit and has been back several times since then, having had at least two dozen surgeries.


About one year ago, Sherry met a Shriner, Blain Calhoun, in Fredericton. He told her how Shriners look after burned children. Thanks to this meeting, Sherry went to the Shriners Hospital in Montreal, where she spent a month, receiving a series of surgeries. She will be going back in about one year for more surgery.


David and Sherry spent a week in Washington, D.C., visiting most of the historic sites including the Washington Monument, Lincoln, Jefferson, and all the war memorials. They also visited Arlington National Cemetery, several of the Smithsonian Museums, the National Zoo and the Canadian Embassy.

The high-lite of the trip was a visit to the White House. They were given a special tour of the White House and then treated to a demonstration on the south lawn by the Secret Service that included their dog teams, and the Emergency Response Team. After this everyone was surprised by the arrival of Vice President Al Gore, who took the time to meet every child and firefighter there.


The National Burn Camp gave all of the children and firefighters a trip of a life time, but more importantly, it gave the children a chance to meet other like themselves. They could be like every other teenager with out worrying about their burns. Scars were not an issue at camp, as everyone there had scars to some degree or another.

 

Sherry Carruthers and Vice President of the United States, Al Gore


The children had the chance to meet other young people like themselves, discuss issues that only burn survivors can talk about, and for many of them, realize that none of their feelings were wrong. They are still the same person they always were.


The friendships and memories made at the National Children's Burn Camp will last a lifetime.