Abbotsford woman Cassidy Phillips said the Burn Camp changed her life in a positive way as a child. She is now a camp counsellor at the camp. (Submitted)

Abbotsford woman grateful for Burn Camp experience

Mouat grad, UFV student Cassidy Phillips says camp was life changing for her as a child

Abbotsford resident Cassidy Phillips thankfully doesn’t remember much of the scalding injury that occurred when she was one that left parts of the right side of her body scarred.

But when she was younger she did notice stares of judgment and repeated questions about what happened. It was through those uncomfortable situations that Phillips eventually learned about herself and directed her to the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Association’s Burn Camp.

The Burn Camp is made possible through fundraising events such as the Hometown Heroes Lottery.

Phillips said when she was about six years old when her reluctance to participate in a swimming lesson due to her scarring was noticed by her swimming instructor’s sister, who was a firefighter in Abbotsford.

“She brought my parents aside and told them about the Burn Camp that happens every year and that she thought I would really benefit from attending,” the 2014 W.J. Mouat grad recalled.

About three years later Phillips mustered up the courage to go, and she said the camp experience changed her life.

“I really liked that no one was staring at me,” she said. “I didn’t constantly get questions and I was just able to be a kid and enjoy summer. It’s nice to know there were people who had gone through the same things as me and we could share our stories.”

Burn Camp is very similar to a traditional summer camp, with planned activities, sports and campfires. The only difference is that all the attendees have suffered injuries from burns.

Phillips was hesitant that first year, but she found she instantly loved the experience and returned every summer.

“I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t end up attending the camp,” she said. “It’s a place where I felt understood without even having to say a word. I know that it takes place for only one week out of the year, but I hope people don’t underestimate the positive effect that it has on the campers.”

Phillips aged out of the camp when she turned 18, but still attends every year in her role as a camp counsellor. She said in some ways being a counsellor is even more fulfilling and adds to the experience.

“I’ve been able to see kids as young as six years old start off the week as shy or introverted and by the end they’re laughing and so much more outgoing,” she said. “They’ve also made a bunch of new friends and they just bring that positivity home with them and grow as a person.”

She said the ultimate goal of the Burn Camp is to help make the attendees realize they are more than what people see on the outside.

“I came across a quote once that said ‘I’ve never met a strong person with an easy path”, she said. “It stuck with me and I feel scars don’t represent weakness but strength. At a young age I wasn’t happy with the cards I was dealt with in life but I realized I can’t change the past but I do have some control over the future.”

It’s through that attitude that Phillips has decided to enrol in the practical nursing program at UFV. She is scheduled to graduate later this year. She said her interactions with nurses as a burn victim and throughout her life shaped that decision.

“I wouldn’t have been able to have gone though what I did without the nurses that cared for me so that’s why I decided to pursue a career in nursing,” she said.

Tickets for the Hometown Heroes Lottery sold out on Friday, but there are several early bird and summer draws occurring in June and July. The grand prize draw occurs on Aug. 17. For more information, visit heroeslottery.com, or to donate to the Burn Fund, visit burnfund.org.

RELATED: Abbotsford house available in Hometown Heroes Lottery prize package

abbotsford

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rotary Club launches Fernie wide scavenger hunt

The City Ramble Trail Scramble encourages participants to explore Fernie’s trails and streets

City of Fernie recycles old concrete

Hadean Aggregate Solutions was in Fernie for three days recycling old concrete and asphalt

MP Morrison pushes for accountability following federal fiscal update

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian says it is time to restart the economy

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

No changes coming to Fernie’s Second Avenue

Following a public survey, council holds off on repurposing Second Avenue

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Commercial huckleberry harvesting restricted in Kootenays

The province of B.C. has banned commercial-scale picking from July 15 to October 15

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Most Read