Healing through trauma: Special bonds formed at annual burn survivor camp

Champ Camp is back for the 39th year, hosted by the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation.

“It made me feel very, like not alone, like I wasn’t the only one in that type of situation,” said burn survivor and camp attendee, Julian Reynoso.

It’s 15-year-old Julian Reynoso’s fourth time coming to the camp in Wonder Valley. He says it helps him overcome the trauma he’s experienced.

“I was burned by a car accident; a DUI driver hit my car, our car, the family car,” said Reynoso.

His two younger sisters and father did not survive the crash.

Now. through other survivors – he’s healing.

It was at last year’s chili cook-off, he made a connection that helped change his life.

“Initially, Julian, had a great interest in music, but he didn’t think he could play anything because his hands were damaged and Freddy was holding his hands and said well you can be a drummer and he just lit up,” said burn survivor and retired Fresno City firefighter, Pete Dern.

Julian and Pete Dern, known as “Cobra,” his camp name, have a special counselor-to-camper relationship.

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