Dozens of teen burn survivors from across the United States and Canada are in the Washington, DC, area this week for the International Burn Camp, hosted by the IAFF Foundation and led by professional fire fighters and paramedics who know the challenges these remarkable children face. The International Burn Camp is back in action after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.
First stop for the campers, all aged 13 to 15 and paired for the week with a fire fighter counselor, was the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, followed by a quick group shot in front of the White House. The campers then enjoyed a barbeque lunch at the Chinatown Firehouse downtown hosted by the DC Firefighters Burn Foundation and Local 36.
No one understands the harrowing effects of a fire more than fire fighters who are first on the scene to treat injuries that can last a lifetime. The all-expenses-paid camp experience helps young burn survivors realize they are not alone and that there is a large support system of friends and fire fighters available to support them.
“This is a perfect time for these kids to just be kids, see the sites, and make new friends from far away from their hometown,” said Pam Ramsdell, fire fighter with Jacksonville, Florida Local 122, one of dozens of IAFF members, headquarters staff, and others who donate their time to make International Burn Camp a success.
The campers, who arrived over the weekend from as far away as British Columbia and as close as Lorton, Virginia, were already bonding with each other and their new fire fighter friends as they arrived at the Chinatown firehouse in charter buses.
“This camp is really important for us and a great chance for us to feel accepted. Some of may not always feel that way back home,” said Tanish Arora, a camper with the San Jose, California Kids Camp. Arora was bravely participating in an interview with a local television station for a story on the International Burn Camp.
After lunch, the campers were headed to the Washington National Mall for a few hours of touring the Smithsonian museums. On Tuesday they will be in the Annapolis, Maryland, area for a tour of the U.S. Naval Academy, hosted by the National Capital Fire Fighters Local F-121, followed by a boat ride and a seafood meal. On Wednesday, they will join IAFF General President Edward Kelly at Arlington National Cemetery for an official wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The campers are bunking each evening at Camp Wabanna, a picturesque camp facility on the Chesapeake Bay in Mayo, Maryland.
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• Tuesday, Sept. 27 – campers tour the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
• Wednesday, Sept. 28 at noon, campers observe a wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery.
Email Tim Burn at [email protected].