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Created in 1982 by the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals, Camp Celebrate was the first camp for pediatric burn survivors of its kind in the United States.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Camp Celebrate, a weekend camp for children ages 7-15 who have survived burn injuries, took place this weekend, May 17-19, 2024 at Camp Kanata in Wake Forest, N.C.

Now in its 42nd year, Camp Celebrate was created in 1982 in response to an inability to find traditional camping opportunities for a group of young burn patients at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals. Camp Celebrate was the first burn survivor camping experience of its kind in the United States. There are now more than 25 similar camps across the country and in Canada. Most campers at Camp Celebrate have been treated at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, but Camp Celebrate is open to any pediatric burn survivor in North Carolina.

“Throughout the pandemic, Camp Celebrate was the only burn camp in the U.S. to meet in person,” said Anita Fields, RN, BSN, Director of Aftercare for the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center. “We adapted our camp to be a one-day event. We repeated this format in 2021 and again in 2022 to provide the safest camp possible, still providing the much-needed experience of bringing young survivors together for fun, sharing and support.” In 2023 Camp Celebrate was able to resume its full camp schedule!

Activities include swimming, canoeing, arts and crafts, fishing, archery, as well as an opportunity to meet other kids who share the experience of having been burned. A number of campers return year after year, and some have returned as adults to serve as counselors and share their experiences and knowledge with the children.

Volunteers from across the state, including adult survivors, firefighters, students and community partners, join the Burn Center staff in providing campers a fun and enriching experience by serving as counselors, program staff, counselor-in-training mentors, and logistics assistants.

Recovery from a burn injury at any age is painful and traumatic. Yet it is the emotional recovery that can be lifelong and be the most challenging. Burn survivors have taught us that it is the support of other burn survivors that is the most helpful and has the greatest impact in recovery.  North Carolina has been fortunate to be able to offer this service to survivors and their families.

Happy Birthday Camp Celebrate!