Camp Beyond the Scars: empowering children with burn injuries

RAMONA (KUSI) – With wildfires raging all over the state, support groups like Camp Beyond the Scars are an important refuge for burn victims.

More than 50 children and young adults are attending a special camp this week to help build self esteem after sustaining significant burn injuries. Allie Wagner was live at Oakbridge Camp to check it out.

Camp Beyond the Scars provides a supportive atmosphere where each child can learn how to cope with the emotional and physical hardships they face as a result of their burn trauma. The  program allows them to interact with other children who have common experiences, so they can better realize that they are not alone in their injury.

For many, camp is the first time they have the opportunity to meet another child with scars just like them. Held in a safe environment with caring counselors and fellow burn survivors, young campers can build self-esteem, improve coping skills and strengthen their resiliency.

This year’s Pirate themed summer program took place at Oakbridge Camp in Ramona, where campers participated in a number of activities, including swimming and water sports, laser tag, archery, arts & crafts, rock climbing, a visit from therapy pets, and an off-site visit to Lake Cuyamaca. Camp activities are led by volunteer counselors who are off-duty firefighters, medical professionals, educators and adult burn survivors who uniquely understand the needs of this special population. Camp is also equipped with a Wellness Program, comprised of trained mental health professionals, as an added measure of support for the children.

“One thing we encourage at camp is taking pride in your scars, as opposed to concealing or hiding them.” said Susan Day, Burn Institute Executive Director. Camp Beyond the Scars offers a circle of support for each child and focuses on providing a safe environment for burn survivors to express themselves and learn how to feel comfortable with their personal burn story. In addition to the daily aged-based support sessions, campers will be participating in a number of supportive art projects, which provide a therapeutic alternative for kids to express themselves through colors and artistic creativity.

The Burn Institute provides Camp Beyond the Scars completely free of charge through private donations and support.

The Burn Institute is the local nonprofit agency dedicated to reducing the number of burn injuries and deaths in San Diego and Imperial Counties. Founded in 1972, one of the Institute’s first accomplishments was to help establish the area’s first and only regional burn  center. Today, the Burn Institute continues to reach tens of thousands of children and adults each year with lifesaving fire and burn prevention education programs and burn survivor support services that help children and adults cope with the devastating psychological and physical effects of their burn injuries. For more information on the Burn Institute, visit

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