UNION, Conn. (WTNH) — In Union, Connecticut, there is a camp for children who have survived life-altering burn injuries.
Dominic Mantuano, executive director of the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation, said it all began when Arthur C. Luf and Dr. Panettieri set out in 1978 to establish the state’s one and only burn center at Bridgeport Hospital.
In 1991, Luf realized there was a need for a place for children ages 8-18 who suffered burns, where they could go and just be a kid. So he started the Arthur C. Luf Children’s Burn Camp. Children from all over the world come to it.
“No child is denied and from door to door, there is no money involved,” Mantuano said. “We pay for every child no matter what… door to door, it’s free.”
It is a one week camp every year.
“All types of kids… at first they don’t understand, they don’t know if they want to go, but as soon as they find out that it’s a fraternity of brothers and sisters coming together to just be kids, to go fishing, ropes course, eating, dancing,” Mantuano said. “They soon learn that they’re all about each other, supporting each other, but then most importantly, after the week is over, they go back to their communities and they lead us.”
The camp can hold up to 169 children, but Mantuano said in the next few years he would like to see a little bit more and run three weeks of camp.
“We can do whatever we need to do for whatever amount of children we have. We’ll make it work,” Mantuano said.
They have an upcoming fundraiser on Saturday, a bike ride at the Essex Firehouse that is going to be three stages. It is all about raising money for the camp so kids can continue to enjoy it.