A Very Special Organization, For Very Special Children
The Children’s Burn Foundation of Florida, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the needs of children who have suffered severe burn injuries. Made up of representatives from local fire service organizations, hospitals, and businesses, Children’s Burn Foundation provides special programs which focus on assisting children and their families in rehabilitation, social adjustment, and motivation to facilitate main-streaming them back into society as productive people. The life of a child who has suffered a severe burn injury is changed from the moment the fire occurs. The psychological impact on a burned child is often more painful than the physical injury itself.
The main program of the Children’s Burn Foundation is the annual Burn Camp- now called Camp Tequesta. This special camp is a place where burned children can gather together for a few days and forget that they look different; a place where they can develop new friendships and realize that others have had similar experiences.
Regional Coordinators from around the State contact their local fire departments, burn units, hospitals, Shriners, or other referral sources, to obtain information on children who may be eligible to attend the camp. These children are often in various stages of recovery; some are required to wear pressure garments, some are in wheelchairs, and some are still receiving physical therapy or may be awaiting reconstructive surgery. In any instance, they hold a special place in the hearts of all who attend Camp Tequesta, their inner beauty prevailing over the daily struggles they encounter.
Burn Camp is a long weekend event held at the Florida Elks Youth Ranch in Umatilla, Florida each November. Each child attending the camp is assigned a like-gender, adult “burn buddy.” This is usually a firefighter, nurse, physical therapist, or friend, who is familiar with the child and their individual needs. The burn buddy will serve as a one-on-one support system for the child throughout the weekend, and often becomes a life-long friend. This one adult-to-one child ratio is the only one of its kind in all of Florida. Participating in burn camp and spending time with these children is also a special opportunity for the firefighters whose last contact with the child may have been at the scene of their fire incident.
During their time at the camp, the children will take part in a variety of scheduled activities such as, swimming, archery, arts and crafts, canoeing, rappelling, and dancing to a live D.J. and team challenges! Each activity allows the children time to interact with each other and their burn buddies, while having the time of their lives. The camp often includes special guests, many of whom have also suffered traumatic burn injuries. These inspirational guests offer guidance and encouragement to the children who may feel that there is little hope for a happy and productive life.
A big part of the success of Burn Camp is the countless hours and services donated by many, many wonderful volunteers, contributors, and supporters of our program. Children’s Burn Foundation of Florida is operated 100% by volunteers. There are no paid staff.