Children who have suffered from burn injuries find support at special camp
COLUMBIA, TN (WSMV) -
Christina Fulson may be smiling, but she's focused on the finish line.
The 14-year-old is one of 28 campers running the Firefighter Challenge at Camp Hope.
The camp is a place where children who have experienced a burn injury come each summer to take a break, make new friends and find support.
"Now they're left dealing with the scars as a result of their injuries and sometimes that's hard for them in their school lives and in their communities to be able to kind of go through and not be noticed for what their physical differences are," said nurse Rebekah Lemley.
For many of these campers, these are the only days during the year that they feel comfortable wearing shorts that may expose their scars.
"I used to get bullied a lot. And when I come here, people don't talk about my burns because they got burned too, so that's mainly why I like coming back," Fulson said.
The entire camp is made possible through community donations. The folks running the camp - nurses, counselors, firefighters - also volunteer their time as well.
"It's almost sometimes overwhelming seeing the joy in the kids," said Eric Stone with the Chattanooga Fire Department.
Many of the nurses first meet these children when they care for them in the Vanderbilt Burn Unit. So to see them out of the hospital and enjoying their summer vacation is very special.
"I think it's very therapeutic for the children. I think it's very therapeutic for the nurses who care for those children in the hospital and see those children in the most painful moments of their injury. And then they get to see them at camp and they get to see them happy and they get to see them healthy. It rejuvenates us for what we do on a daily basis," Lemley said.