Local firefighter supports kids at burn camp

Murray Robertson has taken part in the camp for burn survivors on Gambier Island three years running

Murray Robertson’s team in Cabin 1 at Burn Camp got dressed up for their Harlem Shake on skit night.

Murray Robertson’s team in Cabin 1 at Burn Camp got dressed up for their Harlem Shake on skit night.

Cranbrook firefighter Murray Robertson has returned to town after what he calls an amazing experience at Burn Camp 2013, from July 14 to 19.

The B.C. Professional Firefighters’ Burn Fund puts on a camp each year for children aged between six and 18 who are burn survivors.

This past year, Cranbrook contributed to the cause by supporting the Cranbrook Firefighters’ Burn Fund Calendar, in collaboration with Rocky Mountain Print Solutions and the Cranbrook Daily Townsman.

This is the third time Robertson has attended Burn Camp as a counsellor, and it was again a powerful experience.

“This year 72 kids from across British Columbia were brought in to Camp Latona on Gambier Island. This year in my cabin we had eight boys aged from 6 to 10,” Robertson said.

“The campers all have one thing in common: they are all burn survivors who have spent some time in a burn unit.”

Robertson said that the kids’ burn injuries have various causes, such as electricity, campfires, and structure fires.

“The leading cause of burns to the campers seems to be from hot liquids and the majority of these could have easily been prevented. Hot liquid scalds can come from hot water from the tap, spills from coffee pots, crock pots and hot liquids in mugs. A small amount of hot liquid can do severe damage to young children as their skin is four times more sensitive than an adult,” he said.

At first, some of the children at camp – especially if it’s the first time they’ve attended – are uncomfortable showing their scars, but they soon overcome that.

“Burn Camp provides the campers with an opportunity to interact with other kids who have gone through similar traumatic experiences. It allows them to connect with others and provides a refuge where they can just be kids and not have to worry about their scars,” said Robertson.

“Camp gives the kids an opportunity to work on the emotional healing that is very necessary with such injuries. It provides the kids with a support network that they can rely on for years to come. The campers and counsellors form a close knit group and liken it to a second family.”

Over the six days, campers took part in challenging activities – such as obstacle courses, zip lines, and high rope challenges – as well as fun camp activities – such as hip-hop dancing, self-defence training, cheerleading, and a skit night.

The highlight was the annual dance, Robertson said, where a cruise ship was brought in so the campers and counsellors could tour the area while they celebrated.

“Burn camp is a truly uplifting experience and it puts one’s life into perspective,” Robertson said.

“I feel blessed that I am able to partake each year.”

For more information on fire prevention and burn awareness, visit www.burnfund.org or call the Cranbrook fire department at 250-426-2325.

Please take the time to watch the “Too Hot For Tots” video at www.burnfund.org.