Burn survivors escorted to summer camp by first responders

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - On Sunday, first responders from all over the state helped escort a van full of kids to summer camp in Burwell, Nebraska.

Kids from all over Nebraska get ready to go to Burn Camp. (Source: KOLN).

But, this is not your typical camp and these are not your typical campers.

It's called, "Burn Camp", and all of the campers are actually burn survivors.

It's a week long trip, where they get to bond with some of the nurses who cared for them as well as other kids who have gone through some of the same things.

Angelina Rodriguez was only five-years-old when she was burned.

"I was put in foster care so I was jumping around for a few years, then after 5th grade, I got invited to Burn Camp,” said Rodriguez.

Seven years later, she's now getting ready for her last Burn Camp.

Rodriguez says every year, she's been thankful to have the chance to spend time with other burn survivors.

"And it's kind of a, it's a pretty traumatic experience. So when you can come together and talk about it openly, and you know everyone has the same issues, then you can bond over that,” said Rodriguez.

They also have the chance to bond with nurses from CHI Health St. Elizabeth.

One of them is Camp Director Eric Jensen, who works in the burn unit.

"These kids at their own school, they're different. So when they come to camp, they are with kids that have the same type of things that they have going on,” said Jensen.

Jensen says there's nothing better than seeing the kids be themselves.

And to make the trip extra special, for the last four years the burn survivors have been escorted all the way to camp by first responders from Lincoln, to Malcolm to Seward.

"They have the sirens, the motorcyclist, and all of the fireman, sirens going off, it's a lot of fun and excitement,” said Rodriguez.

"We'll go through the towns and the kids love it, even the adult kids love it, so it's a really fun time,” said Jensen.

Rodriguez says she's excited for camp, but she's sad it will be her last year, at least as a camper.

"Once you go, you just keep going until you age out, and even then, you just come back as a counselor,” said Rodriguez.

The camp is open to children ages 7-18 and is free to all campers because of donations to the St. Elizabeth Foundation.