July 21, 2022
A Camper’s Story
“I had never met another burn survivor my age. I thought I was the only one.”
– Twyla, 9-year-old burn survivor
At Camp Courage this year, the very first camper who arrived was Twyla, a 9-year-old burn survivor. I had the privilege of being the first person to greet Twyla and her family upon arrival. As I introduced myself and asked if she was excited to be at Camp, she shyly expressed that she was nervous since this was her first time at Camp. We walked up to her cabin, introduced her to her camp counselors, and she got settled in. Throughout the week, I witnessed Twyla open up with her counselors, bravely try every activity offered, and build an inseparable friendship with her cabin-mate.
After camp was over, I drove Twyla back into town where she would be picked up by her parents. On this car ride, I was given a front row seat to witness the impact Camp Courage makes. Though Twyla started her week shy and reserved, she ended it by talking the entire car ride about what an amazing week she had, what all of her favorite activities were, and how she can’t wait for next year’s camp. Through all of the excitement, she then gently said, “I had never met another burn survivor my age. I thought I was the only one.”
Needless to say, I was blown away. Within one week, Twyla was able to experience community, validation, empathy, acceptance, and love. She was able to meet other burn survivors her age and know that she is not alone. To hear the joy in her voice as she talked about her Camp experiences, and to witness her confidence grow over the course of the week, are memories that will stay with me forever.