JUST LIKE YOU: Child burn victims find healing and community at East Texas camp

Special Reports

SCOTTSVILLE, Texas (KETK) – An East Texas summer camp is helping children who were burned in traumatic accidents heal, form strong friendships and find a family away from home.

At ‘Camp I’m Still Me,’ children from Texas and beyond come together for a week-long experience in Harrison County.

Hidden within the piney woods of Northeast Texas is a melting pot where campers who’ve survived severe burns form connections and leave with courage.

“Everything happens for a reason, and it’s to have a greater purpose in life.” 

SHAY SHAY CURNER, CAMPER

For fellow camper, Shay Shay Curner, she’s more than the painful scars left behind on her body. “It’s good for your health and stuff because you go through bullying being different from anybody else, and when you come here you feel unique,” said Curner.

After getting burned in a kitchen fire as a toddler, Curner says she has experienced isolation.  

“It’s awful because parents have never taught their kids certain things you shouldn’t say,” Curner said.

Louisiana Doctor, Kevin Sittig, who specializes in burn injuries, founded ‘Camp I’m Still Me.’ His motive was to create a safe haven centered around this central idea:

“After being here for a week with children, many times they will find someone that is far more disfigured than they are, who has no fears at all” 

DR. KEVIN SITTIG, PERCY R. JOHNSON BURN FOUNDATION DIRECTOR, FOUNDER, ‘CAMP I’M STILL ME’

At ‘Camp I’m Still Me’, children unite in their unique, yet shared experiences with other campers and even counselors. “When you see people showing their scars, ‘you’re like dang I wish I can do the same,’” said Curner.

Cheoveon Beechum and Antoine Morrow are brothers, and they are also burn victims and have been attending the camp for more than 20 years.

“I’ll always enjoy counting down the days to coming here to camp because this is our heaven here on Earth. Basically, this is our home,” said Morrow.

The pairs’ homes went up in flames overnight. The memory of it all still looms, but now they’re using their own experience to shed light for kids in similar situations.

After nearly 30 years, thousands of campers and counselors have left this special camping experience with what they say is a greater purpose.

“God put us in a situation that can make us bigger and better,” said Curner.

For one of Curner’s counselors, Deanna Ingalls, “We come to camp for a week but we build year-long friendships, and while we come as strangers, we leave here as a family.”

A family bonded by courage, strength, and who they are beyond their scars.

‘Camp I’m Still Me’ is made possible every year solely through private donations made to the non-profit Percy R. Johnson Burn Foundation.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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