Mid Atlantic Burn Camp 2018
Your Anne Arundel County Professional Fire Fighters are pleased to welcome Guest Blogger and Local 1563 Member Brian Carhart for this Month's Guest Blog Post:
This year, we had three members from the local attend the Mid-Atlantic Burn Camp. Myself from station 28-D, Captain Keith Hamilton form Station 40-D, and Brendan Domotor from station 41-D. In addition, retired Battalion Chief Matt Tobia was there and 5 members from Howard County, Local 2000.
The camp is held at Brethren Woods Retreat Center, which is near Keezletown, Virginia. The closest big city would be Harrisonburg, which is about 10 miles south. The Mid Atlantic Burn Camp (MABC) is run by Linda French and Tonas Kalil, who are both well experienced physical therapists from Maryland. They coordinate the camp from their homes in Clarksville, MD. This year was one of the bigger camps in recent memory with 54 kids.
After the 2012 MABC camp, I was asked to be a counselor for the IAFF Burn Camp which is held at Camp Wabana in Edgewater, MD in late September. Burn survivors from all over the US and Canada come to DC for a week with a counselor from their local burn camp and experience what DC is all about. The week includes visits to Arlington National Cemetery. the US Capitol, a Washington Nationals game, many monuments, Mt Vernon, VA, Annapolis, and more. So in 2013, I went with one of my very first campers in 2008, Anwar Glasgow, and had a blast. We laughed the whole week. We were enjoying ourselves at lunch at the building next door to the US Capitol when a fellow counselor remarked that we were more like brothers than camper/counselor, and I can thank the MABC for that. This year, Anwar came back as a second year counselor after having been a camper for 10 years.
I was assigned to different medic units for the first ten years of my career in Anne Arundel County where it is easy to become cynical and jaded. These kids have shown me how to be human again. Camp also makes me a better dad to my own son. The structure of camp gives these kids a week to be a kid without fear of being judged due to their burns. It also gives these kids a week away from all of their electronics and be immersed in nature. Kids get to go hiking, canoeing, caving, swimming, fishing, and horseback riding. A lot of these kids come from the inner city and would never experience all of these things. About the third or fourth day of camp, the kids trust each other and the counselors and will open up about their burns. Some of the kids are "big burns," meaning they have a large area of burns. These kids have dealt with pain that no human should ever have to know, and to see their strength and perseverance to participate and accomplish strenuous camp activities should be (and are) an inspiration to others.
This year, the Anne Arundel Professional Firefighters Burn Foundation donated $40,000 to the MABC. Total donations since 2006 are in excess of $400,000. Members of Local 1563 that contribute to the Burn Foundation should know that their monies are being put to good use. Without our direct support and numerous fundraisers through the years, the success of MABC would have been impeded. Many kids who come to camp, many of which come back year after year until they age out, get so much out of it. In an era where so many "charities" use their money to line their back pockets, please know that this money actually gets to its intended targets, kids from all over Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, and beyond. "Thanks" isn't enough to those who have faithfully contributed to the AA Burn Foundation.