Teens from across country gather in Steamboat for week on the slopes | SteamboatToday.com
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Teens from across country gather in Steamboat for week on the slopes

Logan Andres, 17, of Wisconsin, bumps fists with Ian Bjorklund, 17, of Minnesota, during lunch at Steamboat Ski Area on Thursday afternoon. The teenagers were in Steamboat Springs as part of the Children’s Hospital Burn Camp Program. This week’s camp brought teens from across the country to Steamboat to share their experiences and have fun on the slopes.
John F. Russell

How to help

Burn Camp Director Trudy Boulter said The Children’s Hospital and other groups raise funds all year for the winter and summer programs. Families are asked to contribute $300 to send their child to a camp, Boulter said, and airfare contributions vary according to family. But 85 percent of families are unable to contribute, she said, and the program strives to not turn away anyone because of money. Alec Rhodes, who has been a Burn Camp volunteer for 18 years, said contributions are always welcome and always needed.

Online

■ Learn about fundraising efforts for The Children’s Hospital Burn Camp Program at http://www.faithful500foundation.org.

■ Learn more about the hospital’s camps for youths who suffer from burns at http://noordinarycamps.org.





Logan Andres, 17, of Wisconsin, bumps fists with Ian Bjorklund, 17, of Minnesota, during lunch at Steamboat Ski Area on Thursday afternoon. The teenagers were in Steamboat Springs as part of the Children’s Hospital Burn Camp Program. This week’s camp brought teens from across the country to Steamboat to share their experiences and have fun on the slopes.
John F. Russell

How to help

Burn Camp Director Trudy Boulter said The Children’s Hospital and other groups raise funds all year for the winter and summer programs. Families are asked to contribute $300 to send their child to a camp, Boulter said, and airfare contributions vary according to family. But 85 percent of families are unable to contribute, she said, and the program strives to not turn away anyone because of money. Alec Rhodes, who has been a Burn Camp volunteer for 18 years, said contributions are always welcome and always needed.

Online

■ Learn about fundraising efforts for The Children’s Hospital Burn Camp Program at http://www.faithful500foundation.org.

■ Learn more about the hospital’s camps for youths who suffer from burns at http://noordinarycamps.org.



— Seventeen-year-old Codie Bateman, of Wills Point, Texas, was in fifth grade when she went to bed one night after taking a double dose of penicillin she’d received from a doctor for ailments.

She woke up the next morning with massive burn blisters all over her body. She could hardly open her eyes.



Bateman said an allergic reaction to the penicillin, and potentially to other medications, created a chemical burn inside her body. Years after that reaction, she still feels its effects — her eyes often get watery, for example, because of damage to her tear ducts. Bateman told her story Tuesday night at Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue’s mountain fire station, off Pine Grove Road, during Fire Rescue’s dinner for Bateman and 22 other teenagers from across the country who visited Steamboat Springs this week as part of The Children’s Hospital Burn Camp Program.

When Bateman told her story to several other teenagers sharing a spaghetti meal and said, “I lost all my skin from the inside out, all over my body,” jaws dropped around the dinner table.

One of those jaws belonged to Logan Andres, 17, of West Salem, Wis.

“I’m never going to consider myself unlucky again,” Andres said.

That sort of realization, and that sort of sharing, are goals of the weeklong event known as Burn Camp. Director Trudy Boulter has been involved with Children’s Hospital burn camps since 1992. She said the summer and winter programs give teenagers a chance to challenge themselves physically and mentally — with plenty of time on the slopes at Steamboat Ski Area, for example — while interacting with other teens who have faced similar challenges related to burn injuries.

Boulter said seeing that similarity can be invaluable.

“A lot of these kids have horrifying stories,” she said. “A lot of them have lost family members. There’s kids who have had 30 to 60 surgeries. …These aren’t normal experiences. Truly, kids, especially teenagers, thrive on being more same than different.”

Andres said he was 5 when, one day, he decided to light Popsicle sticks on fire with a lighter in his family’s backyard. He was holding the sticks close to his body, half-hidden near his hip — “I knew I was doing something bad,” he said — when wind caught the flame and ignited his shirt. Andres was burned on his neck, arms, chest and back.

Programs such as Burn Camp, and the friends he’s made because of them, have helped Andres put that day in perspective.

“In the complete truth, there’s so many good things that happened in my life because of it,” Andres said. “It kind of changes your life.”

Lasting connections

Brad Jackson, a Children’s Hospital psychologist, said those changes can come from little moments. When not skiing or snowboarding, the teens spent most of their time in Steamboat relaxing together and enjoying simple pleasures, like a dip in a pool or hot tub at The Steamboat Grand, which provided discounted rooms for camp participants.

Boulter said Steam­boat Ski and Resort Corp. provided deals on lessons, lift tickets and rentals.

Boulter said she’s seen teenagers at some camps who don’t bring a swimsuit. Pools and hot tubs can make teenagers with burn scars feel embarrassed or shy. But sometimes, Boulter said, teens will arrive at camp, meet friends and realize they’d like to buy a swimsuit and get in the water after all.

“We don’t try to engineer the therapies — they occur in the experiences,” Jackson said.

The teenagers leave Steam­boat today.

Larez Alexander, a 15-year-old from Canton, Ohio, said he keeps in contact year-round with friends he meets at camp via social networking sites including Facebook and MySpace.

Bonds form with camp volunteers and firefighters, too.

Lt. Michael Arce said Steam­boat Fire Rescue jumped at the chance to spend time with a burn camp group after learning about the program in the summer. He said “there’s definitely a connection” between those who fight fire and those who suffered from one of its many forms.

That connection was evident Tuesday night. While the meal was in full swing, a dispatch came over the radio for a possible vehicle fire. As several firefighters jumped to the call, applause broke out in the room.

Ian Bjorklund, a 17-year-old from St. Paul, Minn., was 15 months old when he accidentally got into some smoldering coals on a camping trip and severely burned his right hand. The friendly, conversational teen has been to several burn camps in recent years.

“The first year was incredible,” Bjorklund said. “It’s like a giant family.”

Chris Reimann, a 15-year-old from Portland, Ore., expressed a similar feeling while sitting across from Bjorklund and Alex­ander at Tuesday night’s dinner.

“The minute I came, I just felt embraced by everybody at the camp,” Reimann said. “It’s like the minute you get off the bus, people are hugging you.”


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