Taking That “Camp Magic” Home With You

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By Donna Trentel, MSA, CCLS

Time at burn camp is filled with so many enriching experiences, from making new friends and trying new activities, to learning new skills. It is not unusual for campers, and even staff, to think, “Too bad camp can’t last longer” or “I wish every day was as great as it is at camp.” The following tips may help you make that “camp magic” last beyond your days at camp:

Ideas for Campers

Maintain friendships, establish new ones.

  • Find out if your camp program has a social networking site and consider using it or other ways to stay in touch with camp friends.
  • Some people at camp were probably strangers to you one minute and then became your friends in a short period of time. Use some of those same ways you made friends at camp and try them at school or in other places. You might find new friends nearby!

Look at the skills you developed at camp and put them to use in your life on a regular basis.

  • Perhaps you discovered an interest or talent in sports, music, drama, crafts, or social causes. Keep working on it by joining a club, team, or group in your community or school.
  • Camp often challenges us to try new things, see things in a different way. Find ways to do the same at home and at school. Small steps can lead to big things—say “hi” to someone you don’t know, help someone else, try something new.
  • Teach someone else something you learned at camp—a song, a craft, a game, or a skit.

Keep in touch with the positive feelings and memories from camp.

  • Plan ahead and consider using a journal during camp to capture those feelings; then re-visit them throughout the year.
  •  Use pictures and crafts made at camp as special reminders to help you get back in touch with those feelings and special memories.
  •  Spend time outside.You may not have mountains or a rafting river in your backyard, but there are other things to do and explore outdoors...just get out!

Ideas for parents and CaregIvers

Promote safe risk-taking, challenge, and new learning.

  • Help your child or teen further explore an interest by finding classes, resources, or people in your community.
  • Encourage your child or teen to try new things, such as clubs or groups at school, at church, or in the community.
  • Try something new yourself to show your child or teen that adults keep learning and trying new things too.

Promote independence.

  • Give your child age-appropriate responsibility, get them engaged in the expectations, and recognize them as they meet those expectations. At camp, kids often learn the value of their contributions to the group—a great thing to continue at home.
  • Many camps encourage kids to take more active roles in their self-care by teaching them to be responsible for their own burn garments, or other personal care. This responsibility empowers them and often helps them feel more like their non- injured siblings and peers.

Promote Communication.

  • Planning, preparing, and eating meals as part of a group is often part of the routine at camp. Doing so at home on a regular basis can promote conversation, maintain connections, and be fun! 


Donna Trentel, MSA, CCLS, has worked as a child life specialist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, for 24 years and has been involved in Children’s Colorado Burn Camp Programs, including summer camp and family camp, for more than 20 years. 


This story is an excerpt from The Phoenix Society’s® Burn Support News, Issue 2, 2013. Burn Support News is a quarterly publication that contains articles on the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of burn recovery.  All Rights Reserved.

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