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Camp Courage Serves As Yearly Family Reunion for Burn Survivors
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06 June 2017  
Mega De Soto-Facio and Bonnie Harraway greet their camp-leader Kaylen Ehinger with a hug after getting off the bus at Camp Courage on Sunday June 4th,2017 in Prescott, Arizona. All Photos by: Torrence Dunham
Over Eighty Burn Survivors Enjoying A Week of Fun At Camp Courage in Prescott's Pine Summit Camp

PRESCOTT- After suffering burns during a trailer fire in 2001 while moving, the then ten-year-old Josie Correa attended her first Camp Courage; a week of fun and healing with fellow burn survivors.

“Camp Courage has been a huge difference in my life,” said Correa who attended multiple times during her childhood. “I grew up here at the camp so it’s kind of like a second family but it also let me see life in a different way and what’s really important.”

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The Arizona Burn Foundation’s Camp Courage, which usually takes place at Pine Summit Camp in Prescott, hosts eighty to one-hundred burn survivors between the ages of six and fifteen each summer. During the time period, kids play games, participate in challenge courses up in the tall trees of Prescott, ride horses, create art, swim and get to know each other.

“At first it’s a little bit scary because you’re coming to a big group,” Correa said. “But right when you get off the bus, it’s instant kind of joy and you start to see..all the fun you’re going to have. ”

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Upon graduating from the kids portion of the camp, Correa participated in the leadership program and joined the over one-hundred leaders and volunteers at the camp. Among those volunteers and leaders are medics and firefighters like Jason Sanchez who got involved after hearing stories from a fellow firefighter who participated.

“He always had these great stories about camp and he found it to be really fulfilling,” said Sanchez who was immediately hooked after his first experience at camp. “Camp Courage is really special. We don’t have a huge turn-over of volunteers, it’s usually the same people every year, so it almost gets to be a family.”

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Through the week of fun, Sanchez mentioned he begins to notice kids who showed up with hoodies covering themselves will soon become adapted to the situation and have fun with their fellow burn survivors. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of the camp for many who have come back year after year.

“It’s seeing the courage of the kids and being able to see the transformation throughout the years,” said Camp Courage first-year Camp Director Andrea Glass who has been involved for fourteen years. “ (To) see them go from learning how to become dwell in their skin, to grow, to develop, to gain leadership skills and then to be successful adults.”

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“The interesting part is we make a difference in their lives but I think the bigger part is they have such an impact on our lives, they make our lives better,” Glass continued.

As the word gets out about Camp Courage and more burn survivors become leaders following their time at the camp as a child, the week of fun has grown from a small group of ten to what it is today.

“It’s a big family once you get here,” Correa said. “There's not many places in life where you’ll go and you have this family that you can keep coming back to and it’s always growing too.”

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Information about Camp Courage or those who would like to donate to the Arizona Burn Foundation can find more on the organization’s website.

Torrence Dunham

Torrence Dunham "TD" is a multimedia journalist who graduated with a Bachelor's Degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.  Torrence is our PrescottValleyeNews.com Correspondent covering local news and events in Prescott Valley. He is also the lead sports correspondent and play-by-play pro for all our multimedia news sites. If he's not adding to his extensive sports bobble-head collection, he's talking baseball, his favorite. Follow him on Twitter: @Tadunham.