“It empowers the youth – specifically the younger kids – to accept their burns and to work together,” Troiano explains. “A lot of the burn survivors have a hard time accepting their scars, and what this burn camp does is help them realize that everything’s okay and to accept themselves for who they are.”
The pair of local firefighters joined a large group of doctors, nurses, medical therapists, adult burn survivors and other professional fire fighters who donate their time. As Troiano’s first time at the camp, he says it was a once in a lifetime experience to hear the children’s stories of how they work through life with their injuries.
“Seeing the survivors and how that one moment changed their life forever, it really makes our job worthwhile,” he argues. “Going down as a counsellor, we’re there just to support them and to just listen to them and give them more confidence to be successful.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the camp, whose costs are covered by the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, and on the last day, campers were surprised with a large dance on a ferry. That moment was the most special to Troiano.
“They didn’t have any idea that that was going to happen, so it was really great seeing the surprise on their faces.”
Every year the local fire department raises money for the Burn Fund, and this year through fundraisers like its pancake breakfast and Firefighter’s Ball it was able to donate $77,750, the most of any department in the province. Now back home, the experience has motivated Donszelmann and Troiano to raise even more money next year.
“We’re really looking forward to getting even more involved in fundraising, because now we’ve seen where all the money goes to and how it helps burn survivors in B.C.,” says Troiano. “It was a really great experience; it’s going to stay with me for the rest of my life.”