WASHINGTON – Forty-four teenagers all severely burned and scarred are visiting the nation’s capitol from all over the U.S. and Canada this week for International Burn Camp.
For 18 years the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Charitable Foundation has run the camp. Firefighters know all too well that burns leave both physical scars that last a lifetime and emotional scars that can take many years to heal.
Jason Woods is president of the DC Fire Fighters Burn Foundation which is as been helping out with the burn camp.
“The burn camps are an amazing way for us to provide programs for young burn survivors where they can be with peers who have experienced some of the same unfortunate events that they have,” Woods says.
Assistant Burn Camp Director David Petracelli says the youngsters are from all over the US and Canada.
“I think we’re giving them skills and defense mechanisms to be able to survive and feel good about themselves,” Petracelli says.
Among them are 14-year-old Dennis from Detroit, who was severely burned when he was only five years old leaving scars over much of his body. For him this is great.
“I’m not as self-conscious as usual, feels like. You go swimming and you don’t have to worry about people staring at you, asking questions. I like it a lot,” Dennis says.
In addition to seeing the monuments and museums, campers were expected to meet with national leaders and local firefighters. And they spent a night at Camp Wabanna in Edgewater, Md., to take part in team building and peer support activities, the IAFF says.
Each year, the foundation chooses burn survivors between the ages of 13 and 15 years old from regional burn camps held across the country to attend the international camp. A boy from Silver Spring, Md., was among those chosen to attend this week’s camp.
WTOP’s Bob Madigan contributed to this report from Edgewater, Md. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.