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18 years experience of burn holiday camps in Portugal

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Objectives: In Portugal, for the last 18 years the AAQ has been promoting annually a camp for burned children. The main objectives have been to create the opportunity for children to talk freely about the problems they face; to work towards the acceptance of the new image; to develop hygiene routines and organizational skills; to improve adherence to treatments; to develop self-esteem and self-concept and to facilitate the social integration in a group. Methods: Each year, for a whole week, 15 children with severe burns from all over the country, were invited to attend a burn camp. The staff included 1 doctor, 2 physiotherapists, 1 psychologist, 2 nurses and 2 animators. Each year, a theme has been selected and all the activities were developed around it (anesthetizing sadness, being the same is being different, the future is...). The activities were diverse (painting, pottery, dance, swimming, canoeing, slide, watch the dolphins). All these activities took place in a very enjoyable atmosphere in order to facilitate the interaction between children and staff and set the basis for the final party where a broader team attends: AAQ and friends. During the icebreaking the participants write what they expect. By the end they write what they gained from the experience. Results:18 burn camps have been successfully implemented (around 270 participants). The children expected that the camp would make they experience happiness, love, affection, strength, hope, new experiences, friendship, different thinking. By the end of the week they reported bringing home smiles, joy, adventures, courage, good mood, relaxation, will to live the life, being able to wear a shirt or address without fear, self-esteem, self confidence, good memories and friends. Discussion/Conclusion: The burn camp has proved to be a unique and valuable opportunity to deal with the devastating impact of a burn in the child’s life.

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All rights reserved.