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Hoosier Burn Camp gives kids new chance

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Kevin Rader/Eyewitness News

White County - The Hoosier Burn Camp is a once-a-year opportunity, but many see it as much more than that. Hoosier Burn Camp has been around for ten years now, giving children burned by fire a rare opportunity to be a kid again. If the 69 children attending this year can teach us anything, it's that there's so much more than meets the eye.

It starts out with the parade of all parades: a steady stream of motorcycles followed by fire engines manned by the 69 children attending this year's Hoosier Burn Camp. Deonte Jackson, 10, couldn't wait to show his grandparents what the camp was all about.

"He gains a lot of self respect. Once he leaves the camp he's okay and he can't wait to come back," said Doris Scott, Deonte's grandmother.

"Without this camp this would be a big struggle for him and for us because we don't have nobody to tell him like these kids tell him that you are still somebody. I could tell him and show him but this camp does it all," said Tony Scott.

That's because kids like Anthony Baugh who was burned by coffee five years ago are mature beyond their years.

"The personality makes somebody, not the looks," said Anthony.

"They are tired of answering how they got burned in their home communities. They are not able to escape the stigma of being a burn survivor. Here they crave the experience. It is an apples to apples experience," said Mark Koopman, Hoosier Burn Camp.

Seventeen-year-old Mark O''Banion from South Bend sums the burn camp up this way.

"It changed my life," he said.

That is saying a lot considering he lost his brother and sister after the three of them were playing with fire.

Camp costs are covered by donations for all of the young attendees. There is only one requirement. You have to have been hospitalized or treated for burn injuries in the state of Indiana. There is also an unwritten requirement. You have to be willing to have fun.

"It helps because no one is staring at you and everyone knows what happened and we just have fun," said Deonte.

It's one week out of the year where kids get to be kids again, and when they get a chance to prove the old adage that children who are loved, will show love.

Hoosier Burn Camp