From the

From June 19-25, 2016, approximately 70 burn-injured children will attend the 26th annual Camp “I Am Me” in Ingleside, Illinois. The burn camp, which is organized by the nonprofit Illinois Fire Safety Alliance (IFSA) and hosted at YMCA Camp Duncan, provides burn survivors between the ages of eight and 16 with typical camp activities as well as special activities that deal with the specific needs of burn survivors. And although the cost to send one child to camp is $2,400, the camp is provided free of charge to the campers thanks to the generosity of donors.

“These children are burned due to various circumstances, such as scalding water, chemicals, fire, or electricity. Unfortunately, they only represent a small portion of the hundreds of Illinois children that are burned each year, but we continuously work with the hospital burn units to create awareness and reach more children. Our goal is to give this free opportunity to every burn-injured child in Illinois.”

In addition to having fun with the usual camp activities, the young burn survivors attend activities that include character development, journaling and therapeutic sessions.. These activities occur in a nonjudgmental environment that allows them to learn from themselves and others, discovering new ways to heal and build self-esteem. These are resources and outlets that some campers do not have in their own communities.

“Many kids think they are all alone in their recovery from a burn. They may be teased by others in their hometowns because of their burn scars — scars which may be both physical and emotional,” notes Zaleski. “But camp helps shows these children they are not alone and they don’t have to be afraid to be themselves. It tends to have a positive and lasting impact on young burn survivors’ lives.”

In fact, over one-third of camp volunteers each year are former campers. In addition, members of the fire service and medical community, as well as educators and members of the private sector, volunteer their time for a total of nearly one volunteer for each camper.

On Wednesday, June 22, guests are welcome to attend Appreciation Day that will begin at 11:00 a.m. with a fire apparatus parade, signaled by the blare of sirens from fire trucks and equipment from throughout the state arriving at camp. The parade will be followed by lunch at noon and a ceremony at 1:00 p.m. to thank donors, supporters and volunteers. Later in the day, campers will enjoy the Fun Fair, which features carnival games, face painting, dunk tanks, bounce houses, prizes and more.