Young burn survivors find acceptance, fun at special camp

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FOX LAKE, Ill. -- From a distance, it seems like any other typical summer camp, kids out in the sunshine playing games and living carefree.

But carefree is a luxury many of them don’t have the other 51-weeks of the year.

Camp I Am Me is for burn survivors.

For seven days each summer, kids from all over the state converge on Camp Duncan near Fox Lake and enjoy swimming and the outdoors as well as therapy, confidence building and a camaraderie that is difficult to find in their daily lives.

65 volunteers and three staffers from the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance run camp each year. It is free to burn survivors. An average of 75 campers come at the start of each summer as strangers and leave lifelong friends.

Experts say bonds like this help survivors handle everything from future treatments to becoming adults and tackling the world around them.

Most of the kids here this week have been coming for years and many will go on to become counselors.

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