In less than two weeks, 15 children between the ages of 6 and 18, from Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, all of whom have sustained serious burns, will travel to Camp Barnes to participate in the Delaware Burn Camp.
“Burn Camp started a little more than five years ago,” explained John Latomus, who is vice president of the organization. “I don’t take the credit for it, but I had an idea about a burn camp and it was picked up by several others. It went to a couple legislators, and they were able to get some resolutions passed where they created a burn camp in the state of Delaware.”
While at camp Aug. 12-17, the kids get to enjoy the typical camp experiences — biking, archery, crafts, horseback riding and more.
“The kids love to go crabbing. A lot of these kids, the first year, had never had crabs before. Now, every moment of downtime, they’re down at the dock, crabbing. They just love it. We’ll save the big ones and have a cookout of crabs that they caught at the end of the week.”
Lattomus said it has been great to see the camp grow so much in the short time it has been in existence, and that he is happy to see how it has positively affected the campers.
“It started out with six kids the first year and graduated up to 15 this year. We just keep on going. We just want to get the kids there so they have one good week out of the summer,” he said.
Lattomus said that, although campers have to be younger than 18 to attend, one camper — Christopher — loved camp so much that, after he aged out, the camp continued to bring him back as a junior counselor.
“He has the most wonderful times, and the kids really love this young man. They look after him, they take care of him and they watch over him,” he said. “Christopher is one heck of a nice kid. He has a wonderful time down there, and we have a wonderful time having him.”
To attend camp, families simply need to visit the Delaware Burn Camp Web site at www.delawareburncamp.com and fill out an application.
“First, they have to get a physical. They have to fill out an application. There are releases that they can fill out and send in. We also have an interview with the family and the child to talk to them, so they know what to expect.”
Lattomus said the only qualifying factor to attend is that the child must be a burn victim who has spent some time in the hospital. He added that many of the volunteers and counselors are nurses from area hospitals that give up a week of their time to attend.
“Over half our counselors are burn victims themselves,” he added. “It’s good for the kids to see that they can grow up and do something meaningful with their lives.”
Run out of the office of the Delaware State Fire Commission, the camp does not charge a fee to attend, nor does it receive money from the State. All of the funds are raised through private donations and fundraisers organized by groups ranging from fire companies to Rotary Club groups to motorcycle clubs.
Lattomus said attending camp is a pleasure, as it’s wonderful to see the kids enjoy a week of fun with peers.
“I just can’t talk enough about it. I just love being there with these kids and watching them grow up, really. They’re pretty good kids.”
For more information on the Delaware Burn Camp, or to recommend a child who would be eligible to participate, visit www.delawareburncamp.com. The organization is also on Facebook.