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Camp Gives Young Burn Survivors ‘Opportunity Of Freedom’

via Burned Recover Support Group

Gary Hansen
Credit via Burned Recover Support Group
via Burned Recover Support Group
Gary Hansen

The Missouri Children’s Burn Camp, which recently finished its 18th year, has all the activities you’d expect: swimming and boating, archery, and arts and crafts.

But its campers are all burn survivors, and this camp has a hidden agenda.

“The whole idea of burn camp is, yeah, take the kids to have a good time, but what they don’t realize: It’s a weeklong support group,” said Gary Hansen, a burn survivor and president of Burns Recovered Support Group’s board of directors. “They’re there with other commonality children of the same burn injuries. They might be going to a school district that doesn’t have a burn for the whole school district, much less their school. They’ve never been around and seen other burns. All (of) the sudden, they come together and the commonality, the speech, it starts healing.”

“The activities are what’s normal — they’re average activities. But it’s who they’re with that creates a bond,” said Linda Hansen, executive director of Burns Recovered Support Group.

Children (and adults) often hide less visible scars, perhaps by wearing long sleeves or long pants.

“To be at a camp that every single child has scars — I may have more than you and you may have more than the child next to you,” Linda Hansen said. “And when they go to the lake that first day and they go swimming … and they put on their swimsuits, it’s a freedom that none of us can understand.”

One week at camp gives kids a chance to try new things, she said.

“While they’re at camp, they have that opportunity of freedom. They have the opportunity to do things that maybe they haven’t done.

“We have a high and low ropes course, and the purpose of the high ropes course isn’t to climb a 40-foot wall. It’s to challenge yourself, to push yourself. So the kids get to go home with an ‘I can’ attitude. They’ve learned self-esteem, courage, self value.”

The camp is open to children ages 6 to 17 who have been hospitalized for at least four days in Missouri or are Missouri residents, or who have burns that affect their face, hands or feet. The camp is funded through grants and donations.

Burns Recovered also offers support for adults, as well as burn awareness and prevention programs.

Related Event

Fall 2014 Fashion Presentation

  • When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 1, 2014
  • Where: Neiman Marcus, 100 Plaza Frontenac
  • Cost: $50; proceeds benefit burn-injured children to attend the Missouri Children's Burn Camp.
  • More information

“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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