Subscriber Only

Delaware Burn Camp assists kids with fire injuries


FRANKFORD — Joanne Hutchison, president of the board of directors for the Delaware Burn Camp, welcomes the annual arrival of National Burn Awareness Week on Monday.

She says spotlighting the danger of fire is critical to personal safety.

With the focus next week, “Hopefully, there’s a reduction in any kind of burn injury that may occur. We have kids that are fascinated by fire. Sometimes, they don’t realize a fire can get away from you,” she said.

“We had one young man who’d like to watch a candle burn. He lit a candle one night, and his curtains caught on fire and so did the rest of his room. So, by doing this nationally and making it an awareness week, we hope to minimize or reduce, if you will, occurrences such as that.”

The Delaware Burn Camp is held each year for kids ages 6-18, with the 2023 event Aug. 7-12 at Camp Barnes in Frankford. It debuted in 2009.

There is no charge for the camp, which is funded by donations.

Any child who has been treated by a physician for a burn injury is eligible, Ms. Hutchison said.

“We have one child who had third-degree burns over 80% of his body when he was 2 years old,” she said. “He’s extremely scarred. We have another gentleman who is mentally challenged, and he had sustained burn injuries over about 30% of his body, a lot on his head and neck/face area.

“Then, we also have some very minor injuries that heal very nicely, but they were still required treatment by a physician. And then, there are those that are still like the one who was burned when he was 2. He still sees his physician routinely because he has no subcutaneous tissues. No fat, if you will. He still has issues with lesions periodically and things like that, so he still sees his physician on a routine basis.”

The number of attendees varies — seven kids took part in 2022, and there’s been as many as 16. Besides residing in Delaware’s three counties, campers also come from the Eastern Shore of Maryland and occasionally from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Ms. Hutchison said.

The gathering serves as a venue for acceptance and understanding for children who have been burned, she added, with an emphasis on having fun.

“Depending on the severity of the burns, sometimes, kids are ostracized a little bit because they look different or have something different going on,” Ms. Hutchison said. “This is nice because they can relate to the other people that are in the session with them. They can do everything that a normal kid does. When they’re at camp, we spend our time trying to make sure that they have the opportunity to do everything from crabbing, fishing, (water sports) and much more.

“We take them one day to a water park so that they can experience the slides and things like that. It’s just an opportunity for them to be as normal as everybody else is.”

Other activities for the guests include, among others, boating, swimming, fishing, movies, dancing, archery, hiking, horseback riding and arts and crafts.

Additionally, according to the camp's website, another benefit for children “is the growth of friendships with others in the same situation. Many young burn survivors feel they are free to make new friends — growing self-confidence in a positive and fun atmosphere. Immersion in a supportive community of other burn survivors is key. They have opportunity to try new activities and learn teamwork supported by people who understand their situation.”

The Delaware Burn Camp is staffed by nurses, firefighters and professional and nonprofessional people from around the state, as well as numerous volunteers, according to the website.

To learn more, visit the webpage or email

Members and subscribers make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.