MOUNT PROSPSECT – For the past 32 years, Camp I Am Me has provided a place of acceptance and healing for young burn survivors throughout Illinois at its yearly Summer Camp, held at YMCA Camp Duncan in Ingleside.
This year’s camp will be June 18-24.
A signature program offered through Camp I Am Me, Summer Camp offers a range of activities for campers ages 8 to 20 in addition to specialized therapeutic sessions and support groups that empower them to be able to say, “I am me,” despite physical and/or emotional scars that can result from receiving a burn injury.
In this judgment-free environment, survivors can feel more open to sharing their challenges with others who have had similar experiences. Campers enjoy activities such as wall climbing, horseback riding, fishing, a high ropes course, a talent show, crafts and more that bring them together to be supportive of one another.
“Due to a generous network of sponsors, donors and volunteers, we are able to offer this unique and empowering experience free of charge to survivors of burn injuries due to fire, electricity, chemicals and even scalding water,” said Jim Kreher, the Camp I Am Me President and fire chief of the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District. “We invite anyone who wants to support our mission to get involved with this special journey of healing.”
An overarching goal of Summer Camp, as well as other Camp I Am Me programs, is to help burn survivors build back their self-esteem and confidence. Over the past three-plus decades, Summer Camp has positively impacted hundreds of lives, evidenced by campers coming back year after year and the fact that more than a fourth of its volunteers are survivors who previously attended camp as a young person.
“It’s truly heartwarming to see how camp can positively impact these young people. It provides them with a strong support system filled with people who understand their experiences, which can change their lives for the better – both emotionally and psychologically,” said Philip Zaleski, Camp I Am Me executive director.
Members of Illinois’ fire service and medical community, along with educators and individuals from the private sector, volunteer at the Summer Camp, where there is always a goal to have a one-to-one volunteer to camper ratio. While Camp I Am Me has met its volunteer needs for this year’s Summer Camp, there are other ways to get involved with the organization’s mission, which can be found at campiamme.org/get-involved.
For information about Summer Camp and other burn injury survivor support programs, as well as fire safety and burn prevention resources provided by Camp I Am Me, visit campiamme.org.