Union camp allows young burn survivors to be kids


UNION, Conn. (WTNH) – The activities at one special summer camp in Union are undoubtedly fun, and also hold important lessons to teach the kids who participate.

“We’re going on a swing kind of thing,” said teenage camp-goer Erina. “It’s really fun, I went on it last year.”

To kids who have been through so much, these lessons teach them to control their life with confidence. This is the overall goal of the Arthur C. Luf Children’s Burn Camp.

“It’s like a second home,” said Erina.

The burn camp was designed for kids aged eight to 18 who have survived life-altering burn injuries.

“The thing I love about burn camp is the supportive people, the fun activities, it’s just a great area, I love it,” said 11-year-old Limar. Limar is learning archery at the camp, alongside volunteer counselor Christopher Brigham, a New Haven firefighter.

“The time we put in here, the joy we get to see in the kids, their chance to let loose, be a kid, disconnect from the rest of the world, it really gives us a sense of pride,” says Brigham.

“All of our staff are volunteer firefighters or in emergency service that literally can lend their experience to the children who, in turn, turn around and lend their experiences to us,” said Dominic Mantuano, the new executive director of the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation.

He is an opera and Broadway singer, and also a 911 responder. He explained that the camp is 100% free for participants.

“Door to door it is free because the foundation through the year raises money so that these kids can come to camp to just be a kid,” said Mantuano.“Sometimes they might be reluctant but when they join in, you see them smiling and are happy to do it – they’re able to accomplish and challenge themselves,” said camp director, Tom Smith.

“You get to express yourself, have fun, and honestly just be yourself. Everyone around here is so kind, no one bullies you, it’s just an awesome place to be,” said Erina.

Whether the kids are creating art or taking on a waterslide, this safe haven is all about building camaraderie. Campers come back year after year, taking home memories of new friends, new skills, and tons of smiles.

There are plans for this incredible camp to grow and reach even more kids around the world.