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Contributed by - John M
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Camp Phoenix 2013

August 30th, 2013

Just wanted to share some of the incredible work The Kids Foundation do in changing the lives of kids and their families who have endured major accidents including burns.

Last weekend, a group of us volunteered to buddy up with a burns survivor and their siblings and participate in a camp. The camp was supported by cotton on, consolidated property services and nab. What seemed like a normal weekend away at first, helping to give parents and the regular careers of the kids a small break turned out to be anything but normal and broke many of us down.
To begin with, I was most apprehensive about dealing physically with the visible signs of severe burns. Where would I look, should I look or was I strong enough to look ?

My buddy was a 9 year old recent burn survivor and bundle of energy ! The same age as my son and shared the happiness only a boy with a ball can know! Within a couple of hours I hardly noticed his 95% body and facial burns, (the result of kids, matches and winter pjs) and was captivated by his enthusiasm and ability to engage anyone. The freedom that comes only in a camp with kids carrying the permanent memories of things gone wrong permanently on display yet worn with pride rather than prejudice was liberating to us all. Free to frolic on the shore like stranded white bait, scream down sand hills, play like no one is watching and even dance like no one is watching in the warm winter sun.

Whilst there is nothing more serious than kids having fun and creating care free memories, there was work being done. We were telling our stories (and making stuff up) whilst getting to know each other. Parents and siblings were sharing their experiences and sharing strategies for support both practical and cognitive. Similar to a bunch of fire fighters sitting around back at the station debriefing a day’s work and cleansing themselves of the smoke and debris. As the layers came off more was revealed; how some survived and how some were saved. But this wasn’t about the fire, this was about rising from the ashes and choosing to live.

There were practical ideas to deal with pain, how to count down the grafting and skin release operations. Where to store your compression suit now you can’t sweat, (make some room in your freezer!), what creams to use and even beauty tips. Most important of all, there were thoughtful and compassionate participants looking out for each other and being inclusive of all. Such inspiring families, survivors and role models

Once you are burnt you can”t be unburnt, and once you are part of a camp like this you can”t unfeel, unlearn, unexperience, or unknow what you now know.

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