EAST TROY, WI (SPECTRUM NEWS) — About 100 children have a life changing burn each year in Wisconsin according to the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin.
For the 25th year the organization's charitable foundation has hosted those kids for a free camp near East Troy.
“Throughout the whole year we're excited to come back,” said Halle Fitzmaurice, one of the Burn Camp attendees.
Fitzmaurice is 12 years old and going into 7th grade. This is her third year at camp, which she loves because of the people here with her.
“It's like kids who are burned and like are stared at and stared at at school or feel awkward it's like they can come here and have so much fun without being insecure about their burns and be who they are,” Fitzmaurice said.
All of the campers at burn camp have scars left over from their burn.
Fitzmaurice was nine when she was burned. Her family and some friends were on a boat when it exploded. She got third degree burns all over both of her legs and second degree burns on both of her arms.
It's an injury tough enough to recover from without having the visual reminders.
“If a kid at school is going to come up to me like ew why do your legs look like that, that's so weird, I'm probably not going to tell you about and I'm just going to ignore you,” Fitzmaurice said.
At burn camp, questions aren't necessary and nobody thinks the scars are weird.
“I think it's important to know and that they know that they're not the only one that's gone through these things and that they're not the only ones that's struggling with that difference, that visual difference,” said Melissa Kersten, the director at burn camp.
She normally works in a burn unit in Milwaukee.
At burn camp she gets to hang out with kids like the one's she treats the rest of the year.
“Being able to see them returning back to life and just gaining a network of friends and learning that the burn doesn't define who they are that's a pretty neat experience for me,” Kersten said.
Volunteers at the camp could be medical workers like her, or firefighters or bun survivors.
In a way, seeing this kids like this is therapeutic after seeing children go through the pain of a burn injury.
“It's just part of them and it's not who they are and what they are, that is a pretty powerful experience so it can be life changing for us volunteers as well,” Kersten said.
Because they can just see kids be kids. Just being at camp a week can help these kids the rest of the year.
“It has given me a whole new confidence level for being out in public and being less insecure about my burns,” Fitzmaurice said.
Burn camp is held at Camp Timberlee every year. This is its 25th year. It ran from August 12 to the 17th.
The camp is free for the kids. It's run off of donations and fundraisers.
If you know someone from age 7 to 17 with a burn that may want to go to camp, or you want to volunteer yourself, you can visit: https://pffwcf.org/burn-survivor-programs-camp-support/