Camp Celebrate: Play with a Purpose

Camp Celebrate, a camp for pediatric burn survivors, organized by the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, welcomed campers for a weekend of fun and healing.

Camp Celebrate: Play with a Purpose click to enlarge A camper takes aim during archery practice at Camp Celebrate

Words and Photos by Jamie Williams, jamie.williams@unchealth.unc.edu

For 35 years, Camp Celebrate – the country’s longest running camp for pediatric burn survivors – has started with a swim. Michele Barr, pediatric aftercare coordinator at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, said it’s the first important step in the healing that occurs here.

“Kids who arrive self-conscious about their scars, afraid to take their shirts off or wear a bathing suit, can look around and see others like them,” Barr said. “They don’t have to worry. They are safe here. It’s time to have fun.”

The kids at Camp Celebrate are aged 7-15. Most were treated at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, though the camp is open to all pediatric burn survivors.

During the weekend long camp, participants will canoe, swim, shoot bows and arrows and BB guns. They make friends, overcome fears, gain confidence.

“In burn recovery, healing the physical wounds is sometimes the easy part,” said Anita Fields, burn aftercare program manager. “It’s the emotional scars that can take a lifetime to get over.”

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