Former UPMC patients head off to camp for burn survivors

PITTSBURGH — It was quite the sendoff for campers Wednesday morning, as they boarded a bus bound for Camp Susquehanna, a place for children who have had a burn injury.

It was a joyful reunion nearly a year in the making, as former patients of UPMC Mercy Burn Center came back to the hospital Wednesday morning to board the bus.

“I’m excited to get to like, you know, meet other people that have went through kind of the same thing as me and get to talk with them,” said Elliye Ball, who is 13 years old.

Heading off to camp: for many children, heading off to camp is a summertime Rite of Passage, but for these kids, it means so much more.

“The burn survivors, really…it’s a unique bond that they have.” Said Dr. Jenny Ziembicki, medical director of the UPMC Mercy Burn Center. “They have shared experiences. They can talk to each other. This camp really allows them to go, have fun, and kind of forget about everything else.”

Every family has a story to tell, as the doctors and nurses who worked tirelessly to save these children came outside of the hospital to see them off to camp.

“My two children were caught in the upstairs of the house and were burned,” said Joshua Taylor. “We love every single one of these people. They are the reason they’re still here.”

“If you don’t see what they look like in recovery, you won’t be able to get through and do what you do,” Ziembicki said.

The camp is free and sponsored by Burn Prevention Network.

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