Camp Hope helps burn survivors feel like kids again

Local News

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) – After two full days of fun, day three at Camp Hope is winding down.

Don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t just any summer camp. This one offers pediatric burn survivors a chance to enjoy their life, judgment-free.

Just like any other summer camp, Vanderbilt Burn Center Camp has campers and counselors. The counselors are usually nurses, firefighters, and paramedics.

The campers are just kids hoping to not be defined by their scars.

“Kids come and be with friends that are just like them they’re all the same they all the story we just get to love on them and give them support,” Jocelyn Mueller said, the camp director and a burn unit nurse.

The four-day-long camp consists of cabins, ziplining, archery, a critter barn, and the popular Tennessee firefighter challenge.

The camp is held at William P. Ridley 4-H Center in Columbia.

“It’s not very nice to talk about people because they’re burned or because they don’t look like you,” Jordan Tate said, a camp participant.

Wise words for a 13-year-old, who like many of us, speaks his mind with his voice, but it’s his scar that tells his story. Tate was burned by an accident in the kitchen.

“It hurt really bad,” Tate said.

Though he was burned, he’s not alone. Tate is actually one of more than 30 pediatric burn survivors spending a majority of their week at Camp Hope in Columbia.

“Some of them come in very timid don’t know what to do and they leave different people,” Paul Stine said, a paramedic with Brentwood Fire.

He’s also a camp volunteer.

“Sometimes at work whether you’re in a hospital setting, a firefighter, police officer, whatever your profession; sometimes you can’t really gauge your impact because you’re seeing people very sporadically and here… the impact you have on them for four days course of their camp career and makes all the difference, Stine said, who hopes to show kids, being the same is boring.”

Camp hope is open to kids ages 6 to 16 and is completely community funded. You can donate to camp hope online by clicking here.

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