Imagine you are burned, your appearance is forever altered and your self-confidence is shattered. Confused, feeling out of place and isolated, you believe no one understands you.
Now imagine you are just a child.
This may be unpleasant to think about, but for some children and teenagers, the situation is all too real. Take Ryan for instance. Ryan was severely burned during a family cookout when he was only 8 years old, but Ryan does not think twice about shedding his shirt to take part in a fun game of pool basketball at Camp I-Thonka-Chi.
"When I am at school, kids ask a lot of questions about my scars," says Ryan. "But when I am here, everyone is the same - no one cares what you look like."
When Ryan returns to camp every year, he is glad to have the opportunity to visit with fellow campers who improve each year like himself.
That is what camp is all about, helping our pediatric burn survivors develop a new level of self-esteem and achieve their goals despite their injuries. Burn injuries often involve difficult psychological and social adjustments. Burn victims and their families are faced with stress they have never had to endure before. In 1991, employees of Parkland Health & Hospital System proposed a plan that would allow children who had been hospitalized with burn injuries an opportunity to share time with others who faced similar life-altering challenges. Thus, Camp I-Thonka-Chi, meaning "a place that makes one strong, not afraid to face life," was created just for kids who had been hospitalized with burn injuries.
Camp is free of any expenses to all campers and designed to allow pediatric burn survivors the opportunity to enjoy a carefree, fun-loving environment with other kids. Campers engage in activities that increase self-esteem and build confidence. Many burn survivors are subjected to humiliation and teasing due to disfiguring features caused by their burns. The camp provides these children a chance to develop better relationship building skills and establish a sense of fulfillment by interacting with others who are experiencing the same challenges in life.
Held the first week of June every year at Camp John Marc in Meridian, Texas, Camp I-Thonka-Chi includes activities such as swimming, fishing, boating, ropes challenge course, horseback riding, volleyball, basketball, softball, arts and crafts and special events. Camp counselors play a vital role in the success of camp each year. Counselors come from a variety of backgrounds, health care and non-health care alike. Former campers, who have sustained similar burn injuries, also serve as camp counselors. These counselors are role models for the campers by demonstrating that their burn injuries do not prevent them from pursuing their dreams. Also, adult burn survivors serve as volunteers and counselors for the camp, while providing the children lessons and interactive exercises on how to lead productive lifestyles, despite their injuries.
Camp I-Thonka-Chi provides an exceptional network of support for this special patient population that gives each camper a sense of belonging, and the opportunity to share their challenges and experiences in life as burn survivors. Your support of Camp I-Thonka-Chi will continue to give our patients a place to grow and flourish as productive members of society, despite their injuries.
Make a gift to Burn Camp!