MOUNT PROSPECT — Nearly 50 children that have been affected by burn-related injuries participated this week in the 31st annual Camp “I Am Me.”
Hosted by the nonprofit Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, the weeklong overnight 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. As a result of the generosity of individuals, groups, businesses, and fire departments, the program is offered to families at no-cost.
“Camp ‘I Am Me’ is a truly unique program that allows children 8-20 years old who have been burned by scalding water, chemicals, fire, or electricity to have a camping experience in a judgment-free environment with others who have gone through 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-quarter 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 to make for a 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) non-profit organization, has been bringing together persons and groups with common interest in fire safety, burn prevention, and public education, and to promote programs and disseminate information related to fire safety and burn prevention. The IFSA also hosts burn survivor support programs including Camp “I Am Me,” a unique week-long camp for children who have experienced severe burn injuries. Additional information on the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance can be found at www.IFSA.org.
This article originally appeared on Star Courier: Illinois holds 31st summer camp for young burn survivors