FIRE & ICE: BURN SURVIVORS WINTER CAMP
“The way life should be,” that’s our motto here in Maine and for nine children, from New England, New York, New Jersey and Michigan, who attended the Portland Firefighters Children’s Burn Foundation’s Fire and Ice Winter Camp in Camden, Maine that’s exactly how it was.
The nine kids who attended the camp are all burn survivors between the ages of 10 and 16 who left their homes on a plane or bus provided by the Burn Foundation Feb 3 for a weekend filled with skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, and tons of other exciting winter sports all free of cost.
“The goal of the camp is to get the kids up here and offer them an opportunity to be around other burn survivors and hopefully they don’t have to worry about their scars. They can play and just be kids,” said David Petruccelli, camp director and Portland firefighter.
First stop for the kids was in South Portland where they took a break from the bus trip to play at Summit Adventures at the Maine Mall where they rock climbed, played laser tag and raced remote control cars. Following the adventure the kids ate and continued on to Camden.
Once in Camden, the kids’ weekend was filled with activities including day and night skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing and sledding all at The Snow Bowl, Camden. Taking a break from the mountain campers went ice skating and went swimming at the hotel pool.
For first year camper Genevieve Labowicz, Lawrence, New Jersey the weekend was less about the activities and more the people she was around. “It was so much fun! It’s not what we did that was the best; it was who I spent it with that made it so memorable.”
This is the fifth year the camp has been providing children, with burn injuries, a winter weekend at no cost to them or their families. With continued support Petruccelli is always looking for ways to make the camp better.
As successful as the camp is, it wouldn’t be without the help of a lot of people, said Petruccelli. The Boston Firefighters Burn Foundation of Local 718 handles logistics of the campers meeting and getting on the bus at the Shriner’s Hospital. Foundation President Dennis Costin arranges transportation and lunch for the group.
New London Firefighters Burn Foundation part of Local 1522, provides all of the snacks and meals that the campers and counselors eat during the weekend. “Foundation President Bridget Yuknat is a terrific asset to the camp as one of our counselors,” said Petruccelli.
A new logistical hurdle of getting campers to Maine this year was met by the International Association of Firefighters. Local 3316 President Mike Pfieffer, who found two volunteers, VP Joe Shernesky and a fellow firefighter, to make the six hour trip from New York to meet the bus in Boston and ensure things ran smoothly, said Petruccelli.
Additional information about the camp and donations are accepted for the Portland Children’s Burn foundation at www.maineburnsurvivors.org.
-30-It was so much fun! It's not what we did that was the best, it was who I spent it with is what made it so memorable!