Summer camps for children with burn injuries: a literature review.
The first summer camps for children with burn injuries started over 25 years ago, and as of 2008, there were 60 camps worldwide. This review examines the literature on summer pediatric burn camps. The authors describe common characteristics of burn camp structure, activities, and staffing and then examine the scientific evidence regarding the effect of burn camp programs on campers and camp staff volunteers. A search of Pubmed and Psychinfo databases from 1970 to 2008 for articles related to pediatric burn summer camps identified 17 articles, of which 13 fit the inclusion criteria. Existing literature consists primarily of qualitative studies, suggesting that burn camp can decrease camper isolation, improve self-esteem, and promote coping and social skills. Studies examining volunteer staff at burn camp have consistently found that there are both personal and professional benefits. Quantitative studies of self-esteem have yielded equivocal results. No studies have examined safety or the effect of burn camp on medical or rehabilitation outcomes. For the past 25 years, pediatric summer camps for children with burn injuries have played an important rehabilitation role and provided a strong community that benefits both campers and staff. Future research using more rigorous research methods and examining a broader range of outcomes (eg, safety and medical/rehabilitation outcomes) is recommended.
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