Great Lakes Burn Camp leaves lasting impact on burn survivors

Posted at 10:48 PM, Aug 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-04 22:48:46-04

MATTAWAN, Mich. -- For the past 25 summers, the Great Lakes Burn Camp has provided an amazing experience for children who have suffered burn injuries.

This year the camp has close to 70 burn survivors from ages six through 17.

The camp lasts just a week, but the impact it has on these kids, lasts a lifetime.

It's just like any other summer camp, there’s all the fun activities and friendly competitions but the bond these campers share goes further than most can understand.

"Finding people who knew what it felt like that i could relate to, is the best thing that’s ever happened to me and still is," Burn Survivor Ericka Torres, said.

These kids have faced some unbelievable trauma yet they remain positive. Many of the counselors, like Ericka Torres were once campers themselves.

"I’m a burn survivor, i was actually burned by hot grease when I was 6 months old and I went through all the surgeries and stuff the kids are going through now and I eventually made my way up into the program," Torres, said.

"It was great to come here it's definitely a place where you feel like home. You’re not afraid of people picking on you or bullying you or saying nasty things cause you know everyone else knows how you feel here. Everyones been through the same thing and we all just know how to relate to each other and it's definitely a big family," Torres, added.

Th family feeling is what brings Counselor and Burn Survivor Davion Crump back every year.

"My experience being a burn survivor before I became a counselor, was amazing. They treat you like family, there was just so much love when you first get here." Crump, said.

"I actually felt comfortable cause it wasn’t too much fitting out or standing out, everybody felt equal so it was a healing growing process," Crump, added.

Which helps these kids feel comfortable being themselves and in in their own skin.

"Kids are mean, you know so there’s a lot of questions and a lot of dirty looks, i think  coming here and not having to deal with that, definitely makes the situation better and brings a positivity to it," Counselor and Burn Survivor Dennis Wagner, said.

"Seeing the kids smile and knowing they feel the happiness and love that I feel when I'm here is all that matters, ever," Torres, added.

All the campers go free of charge, the organization is completely funded by donations.

If you want to help out, click here.