Summer Camp Offers a Place of Healing for Burn Survivors

An empowering, week-long summer camp provides a safe, and judgement-free place for young burn survivors

Mount Prospect, Illinois – For the past 33 years, Camp I Am Me by Illinois Fire Safety Alliance has helped young burn survivors throughout Illinois by providing a place of acceptance and healing at its yearly Summer Camp held at YMCA Camp Duncan in Ingleside. This year’s camp will be held from June 16 to June 22.

Camp I Am Me’s signature Summer Camp program offers a diverse range of activities for campers aged 8-20, in addition to specialized therapeutic sessions and support groups that allow them to say, “I am me,” despite any physical or emotional scars resulting from a burn injury.

In this non-judgmental environment, survivors feel more comfortable sharing their experiences with others who have had similar experiences. The campers enjoy activities like wall climbing, horseback riding, fishing, a high ropes course, a talent show, crafts, and more, that bring them together to be supportive of one another.

Kelly McElligott, the Camp I Am Me President and Burn Outreach Coordinator at Loyola Medicine in Maywood, said, “Due to a generous network of sponsors, donors, and volunteers, we are able to offer this unique and empowering experience free of charge to survivors of burn injuries due to fire, electricity, chemicals and even scalding water. We invite anyone who wants to support our mission to get involved with this special journey of healing.”

Summer Camp’s ultimate goal is to help burn survivors rebuild their self-esteem and confidence, which is why more than a third of its volunteers are survivors who previously attended camp as young people. Over the last three-plus decades, Summer Camp has positively impacted hundreds of lives, as evidenced by campers and volunteers returning year after year.

“It’s truly heartwarming to see how camp can positively impact these young people. It provides them with a strong support system filled with people who understand their experiences, which can change their lives for the better – both emotionally and psychologically,” said Philip Zaleski, Camp I Am Me Executive Director.

The Summer Camp sees volunteers from Illinois’ fire service and medical community, educators, and individuals from the private sector. The camp aims to maintain a one-to-one volunteer to camper ratio. Although Camp I Am Me has met its volunteer needs for this year’s Summer Camp, there are other ways to get involved in the organization’s mission, which can be found at