‘The Doctors Healed My Burns, But Camp Healed My Heart’

By: Rachael Novak and Stephanie Stanley

Off to Camp!

Children treated at the UPMC Mercy Burn Center recently embarked on a summertime adventure to Camp Susquehanna for a five-day, sleep-away experience designed specifically for kids who have had a burn injury. To send them on their way, the children were gifted with backpacks filled with snacks and fun summer items like beach towels and sunglasses.

Camp is an opportunity for children to have fun, learn life skills and meet other burn survivors. Camp Susquehanna’s campers are of varying ages ranging from 7 to 17, and activities and groups are geared toward each camper’s developmental needs. Camp counselors provide campers with the chance to face social and physical challenges, develop self-esteem and promote a positive attitude while encouraging healthy independence. Life-skills workshops are filled with many fun activities to ensure that campers enjoy special experiences, while learning responsibility and developing coping strategies to use outside the camp setting. One way that is accomplished is by providing challenging activities that give children the sense of ‘conquering’ and accomplishment.

“Camp is a safe place for healing, a place for children to share feelings about difficult experiences, perhaps for the first time,” said Rachel Novak, child life specialist, UPMC Mercy Trauma & Burn Center.

Camp Susquehanna is funded by various fundraising activities and the Burn Prevention Network. The UPMC Mercy Trauma/Burn unit staff and other camp supporters in the community raised more than $12,000 this year to send children to camp.

In the words of one of our former patients who attends Camp Susquehanna, “The doctors healed my burns, but camp healed my heart!”

If you would like to donate to The Charles E. Copeland Burn Fund, please call 412-232-7786. The fund supports the work of the Gertrude P. and Donald C.W. Birmingham Trauma and Burn Center at UPMC Mercy through pioneering research to improve patient care, ongoing efforts to educate the community on burn prevention and assisting with care costs for patients in need.