Food Insecurity at Camp Susquehanna
At Burn Prevention Network, we are dedicated to providing assistance of all kinds to burn survivors… even after recovery. Our summer sleep-away program, Camp Susquehanna, is for youth from across the state of Pennsylvania to come and meet other burn survivors, participate in activities geared toward teaching them new life skills, and, most importantly, have fun! Young burn survivors have the challenge of coping with the general stress of growing up and the trauma left by their injuries. Surrounded by the kindness and support offered by our staff, volunteers, and other campers at Camp Susquehanna, the kids learn to cope with their trauma and better accept themselves for who they are.
Camp Susquehanna welcomes children from all walks of life, many with traumas that go far beyond their burns. Food insecurity is a common experience for children in America today, including some of our campers. Those children often develop anxious relationships with food, making it difficult to see food as a constant, not a privilege. It’s important for all children at camp to feel comfortable, and when it comes to food access at Camp Susquehanna. The Camp Westmont food services staff who provide three meals a day for our campers go above and beyond.
There is no menu at Camp Susquehanna. The staff provides campers with multiple stations lined with various main courses, drinks, snacks, and desserts with the option to choose for themselves. Outside of mealtimes, snacks and drinks are always available, and campers are always welcome to take food to go. Food insecure children tend to hoard food but having full access at camp helps them feel secure.
Campers with low access to food are often surprised when they first see the abundance of food available. Cathy, Westmont Campgrounds’ head of food services, grew up food insecure and understands the struggles of the campers and their families. She aims to make them feel cared for and empowered by their control over food while at camp.
“One of the reasons that I wanted to do it was because for a kid to have that sense of empowerment, that they could go and choose and that they could go back and say, ‘Okay, well I had a taco, now I want cheeseburger.’ That’s what they should have,” said Cathy. “Just that can give a little bit of empowerment to a kid. They do have a choice. They’ve not just been sat down and had somebody say to them, ‘All right, this is your Rice-A-Roni and hamburger,’ or whatever. ‘You can have this, this, and this.’ Here, [food is] not only available, but it’s also well prepared. You just want to give a kid something special.”
We put immense effort into making sure our campers feel secure regardless of the traumas they face. Food insecurity greatly affects a child’s health and wellbeing, but while at camp, we strive to relieve stress about their situation at home, even if for just a few days.