Volunteer Spotlight: Moe & Michelle

Posted on Nov 7, 2022 in Camp

Michelle & Moe in center frame in front of canyon. Michelle and Moe Scales make up Burn Prevention Network’s power couple of super volunteers for Camp Susquehanna. With a combined 17 years of experience volunteering at Camp Susquehanna, Michelle, an outpatient burn recovery nurse, and Moe, an administrative partner for The Lehigh Valley Regional Burn Center, are passionate about supporting burn survivors in and outside recovery.

The duo began working with Burn Prevention nine years ago through their local burn center support group, where they first signed up to volunteer at Camp Susquehanna. Since then, Moe and Michelle have volunteered at the week-long Camp annually.

Michelle works as the lead nurse at Camp Susquehanna, administering the camper’s medication, dressing changes, providing medical treatments, and other health management tasks. She also trains other nurses visiting the Camp and the volunteer staff to help them understand the importance of ensuring the campers wear sunscreen, stay hydrated, and keep on top of other primary healthcare needs while at Camp.

For Michelle, watching the campers interact and socialize in an open environment is one of the best parts about Camp.

“I’m a nurse at the outpatient burn center, and we’ve gone through some difficult procedures with these kids. Dressing changes, laser procedures, skin grafting–all this stuff–It’s been pretty painful and stressful and traumatic for them, so of course, we’ve developed trust with them in that sense. But then you get them at Camp, and they’re 100% allowed to be just a kid. You know, they don’t have to do anything that hurts. They just get to be a kid,” said Michelle.

While working as an outpatient nurse, Michelle often encourages her patients to give Camp Susquehanna a chance, saying it’s a beautiful opportunity to grow, gain confidence, and be a part of a group that accepts them for who they are. For many young burn survivors, attending Camp Susquehanna is their first experience staying away from home aside from their time in the hospital. It can also be scary for their parents, who are often reluctant to let them go off on their own due to their injuries and out of fear of another potential accident. However, when once reluctant campers finally return from Camp Susquehanna, Michelle says they’re itching to head back the following summer.

Moe, a burn survivor himself,  works as a camp counselor for kids aged 7-9, also known at Camp Susquehanna as The Hobbits. “Watching the kids blossom out of their shells is my favorite part of Camp. You know, when they come in off the buses, they’re in their shell. They’re shy. They don’t really talk to anyone unless they know them. But within a couple of days, if that, they’re interacting with us, they’re making friends, they’re smiling. They’re enjoying life at that moment. To see that transformation and see them comfortable in the space that they’re in—I think that’s my favorite part.”

The couple is passionate about Camp Susquehanna’s impact on young burn survivors and believes it’s an excellent opportunity for kids to grow, learn, and have fun with other kids just like them. When asked why he thinks kids should attend Camp, Moe said he encourages young burn survivors to give Camp a chance to build their confidence and be a part of a group that accepts them for who they are. “I know personally all too well that this world can be cruel to people who are different, and I feel that when [the kids] come into contact with people who genuinely love them and don’t judge them for how they look, that it brings positivity in their life that they don’t see on a normal basis. When they’re out in the real world, people may be laughing at them or picking on them, but I know it means so much to them to know that when they come to Camp Susquehanna, there will always be people there who love and care for them,” said Moe.

Michelle and Moe plan to continue volunteering at Camp Susquehanna for years to come and are already looking forward to next year.

If you’re interested in learning more about Camp Susquehanna, click here.