SPRINGHILL, N.S. – Brothers often do foolish things when they get together, and it was no different with Dale MacNeil and his brother seven years ago.
“My little brother and I were playing on the oven door, we were jumping up and down on it, and a whole pot of boiling water came over and burned my back,” said the 15-year-old, Grade 10 student at Springhill High School.
MacNeil is one of dozens of teen burn survivors, 44 in all, along with 45 firefighter counsellors, currently in Washington, D.C.
They are attending the one-week International Burn Camp hosted by the International Association Firefighters Foundation.
“There’s seven people from Canada attending the camp, and the rest are from the U.S.,” said MacNeil.
MacNeil was eight-years-old when he was burned, and he remembers that day like it was yesterday.
“It was very painful. I had third degree burns and it scarred my whole back,” said MacNeil. “I was in treatment for 12 days at the IWK in Halifax.”
Every August since then, MacNeil has attended Camp Connect near New Glasgow, which is a camp where burn victims have fun and talk about their experiences.
“We tell each other how we got burned and learn from each other.”
Camp Connect is staffed by firefighters, paramedics and counsellors, and is supported by the Nova Scotia Fire Fighters Burn Treatment Society.
“It’s a great camp. We have a lot of fun doing things like zip-lining and going to Pictou Lodge, and it gets me away from my three brothers,” said MacNeil with a laugh.
Camp Connect selected MacNeil to attend the camp in Washington, D.C.
“When they told me I was going, I was jumping up and down in my head and couldn’t really believe it,” he said.
While in Washington, D.C., campers will stay at Camp Wabanna in Mayo, Maryland.
Activities include touring the Maryland Fleet Week & Air Show in Baltimore, visiting several national museums and the National Aquarium, eating lunch at the Chinatown Firehouse, and enjoying a Carnival Day at Camp Wabanna.
“We’re also going to visit the United States Naval Academy,” said MacNeil.
MacNeil flew from Halifax, via Toronto, to Baltimore, Md., Saturday morning. It was his first trip on an airplane. Before leaving, he said he’s looking forward to meeting teens with similar experiences.
“It will be good for me to learn about them and for them to learn about me,” said MacNeil.