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

Rugby practices to return to Lower Mainland fields this fall

B.C. Rugby announced its return to play plan July 7

Despite what our editorial urged, councillors cannot be named to police board

In fact, Section 24 of BC Police Act aims to insulate police board from local politics

South Surrey veteran honoured by South Korea as Ambassador for Peace

Medal presented to Donald McClellan an ‘expression of gratitude’ for service during Korean War

North Delta yoga studio’s Fridays at the Farm to benefit local animal sanctuary

The outdoor four-class series will benefit Perfect Pastures Animal Sanctuary in Ladner

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Mayors welcome rideshare expansion to eastern Lower Mainland

As of Thursday, Lyft is now offering service throughout Metro Vancouver

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read