Save Camp Eyabsut: A Burn Camp For KidsMay 4, 2012 @ 5:31 pm (Updated: 6:00 pm - 5/4/12 )
By Rachel Belle
Anyone who has ever gone to summer camp knows that it's is a magical place. It's like its own universe full of inside jokes and silly songs and when you get home and try and tell your friends about camp, they never really understand what you're talking about. For the past 25 years North Bend's Camp Eyabsut has been that place for kids who've been badly burned and have the scars to prove it. But on April 19th, without any warning, the Northwest Burn Foundation cut funding, basically canceling camp, and let organizers, campers and counselors know this through a Facebook message.
Mickey Mclain, 23, is a camp counselor, and firefighter, who's attended Camp Eyabsut since she was 7- years-old.
"I was pretty devastated because I know that this camp means a lot to those kids who are burn survivors. It's kind of like Christmas for them because it's a place where they can be themselves and they can go swimming and do whatever they want without having to worry about getting made fun of. Especially since I was a camper and I know how that feels to have a place where you can go and be free for a week and not have to worry about people making fun of your scars. When I was 7-years-old, I had a lot of problems with my burn scar and just worried about it and didn't want other people to see it. So my mom did some research and found out about Camp Eyabsut and I had a great time. I was really shy at first. I remember one night, one of the girls started talking about her burn scar. That's when I decided to start wearing shorts and come out of my shell."
Megan Canonica, 16, has gone to burn camp every summer for the past eight years.
"I fell into a bathtub when I was five and it's on both my arms, my stomach, my back and both my legs."
She looks forward to seeing her best friends at camp every summer, and is afraid she won't see them again if camp is canceled.
"I was really confused because the email we got wasn't really clear. It just didn't make sense. I was really confused on why they didn't reach out and ask the counselors and campers and everyone to help, because we definitely would."
Kids from Alaska, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Washington flock to Camp Eyabsut every year, to spend a blissful week with other kids who understand them. Maxwell Whitney, 9, was only two-months-old when a rice cooker fell on top of him, severely burning his skin. He went to camp for the first time last summer.
"It changed my life. I was afraid to go in pools sometimes, and embarrassed. Once I got back, I felt totally different. Like I was normal."
"He was just a happy kid," says Maxwell's mom, Tiara Whitney. "He took off his shirt that summer, playing in the pool in the backyard. He was different. He was more comfortable in his skin."
The Camp Eyabsut family is disappointed that the Northwest Burn Foundation didn't tell them they were considering cutting camp. They say they would have definitely jumped in and helped raise money. Now they're desperately trying to scrape together $80,000 to make sure that camp opens as planned on July 22.
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