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 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

Former Vancouver Canucks goaltender Richard Brodeur discussing his paintings with the executive director of the Arts Council of the Central Okanagan Kirsteen McCulloch. (Contributed)
Former Canucks goalie King Richard’s art displayed at Kelowna gallery

Richard Brodeur starred in the Vancouver Canucks’ 1982 Stanley Cup run

Real Canadian Superstore in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
Kelowna Superstore employee tests positive for COVID-19

The last day the employee worked was Nov. 23

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
RCMP issue warning after woman assaulted while walking in Rutland

On Saturday, the unknown man ran up and grabbed her in an inappropriate manner before fleeing

Movie crews filmed a holiday parade in Summerland in July. The parade, filmed on Main Street in Summerland, is for the movie, The Christmas Yule Blog. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

A West Cabs driver is being investigated for an incident which allegedly took place this week. (West Cabs)
West Kelowna cab driver under investigation after altercation over his lack of mask

Passenger alleges cab driver became confrontational when asked about wearing mask

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A confirmed case of COVID-19 at Vernon’s Silver Star Elementary School has been reported. (Google Maps)
COVID case confirmed at Okanagan elementary school

Member of Silver Star Elementary community in Vernon self-isolating at home; parents alerted Nov. 28

Steve French caught the halo moon on his camera on Saturday night. (Steve French Facebook)
Did you see the halo moon last night?

The halo is actually millions of tiny ice crystals

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read