Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Camp Developed for Previously Burned Children

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Camp Developed for Previously Burned Children

Article excerpt

Tampa, Fl - Camp Hopetake (pronounced Ho-pee-toc-ee) has been developed by the Tampa Bay Regional Burn Center at Tampa General Hospital as a summer camp specifically designed to meet the needs of previously burned children from the ages of four to 16. The name Hopetike is the Seminole Indian word for children. It was chosen with the help of the tribal office at the Brighton Seminole Reservation in Okeechobee as representational of Florida.

In 1991, our burn center participated in a pilot program that we found not only rewarding, but fun and educational. Previous patients from our burn center were invited to spend the weekend with medical personnel that they had become acquainted with while recovering from their burn injuries. For many of our children, coping with the social and emotional scars associated with their injuries can be overwhelming. Camp Hopetake provides a safe, supportive environment for our kids to share their feelings.

The second annual summer camp was held this year on June 5,6 and 7 at Lakewood Retreat in Brooksville, Florida. Seventeen children from the ages of 4 to 13 from throughout the state attended. Participation doubled from last year and we have moved closer to meeting our goal of networking with other burn centers to provide a statewide camping opportunity for these children.

Staff members from the Tampa Bay Regional Burn Center, the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Medical Center, and the Burn Intensive Care Unit at the University of Florida Medical Center in Gainesville volunteered their time as counselors. Two Tampa Bay firefighters participated as well.

Camper Sher-Ami Hernandez, 13, of Plant City, is a two-year veteran of Camp Hopetake. "I had so much fun last year and made some new friends and I wanted to come back," she said.

On the bus ride to Camp Hopeke, counselors distributed hats, buttons and sunglasses to the excited campers. Upon arrival at Lakewood Retreat, we assigned bunks. After lunch, camp members participated in a nature trail scavenger hunt. Campers used Polaroid cameras to photograph examples of nature. The photographs were given to the campers to include in their scrapbooks. One important rule had to be followed: any object moved on the hike, such as logs, rocks, snails, etc. …

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