WSU student asks for community's help to save Camp Eyabsut

WSU student asks for community's help to save Camp Eyabsut »Play Video
Campers, counselors and parents are now working to put on the camp without the Northwest Burn Foundation's support.
PULLMAN, WA - A summer camp for burn victims in northwest Washington has been abruptly cancelled, leaving many campers confused and upset.

Now a Washington State University student is doing whatever she can to help save the camp.

20-year-old Nicole Strasburger is a confident young woman. She's studying criminal justice at WSU and plans to pursue a career with the FBI.

But Nicole says she wouldn't be this person today if not for Camp Eyabsut in North Bend, Washington, a week-long summer camp she's been attending for the past 11 years.

The program was created 25 years ago to help burn victims overcome anxieties and fears while boosting their self-confidence.

Nicole is a burn survivor. She suffered second and third degree burns on her arms and stomach when she was 7 years old.

"In school, I just felt like a freak," said Strasburger. "I was different, it was visible and people can see."

After attending Camp Eyabsut, she gained a new perspective.

"It was like finding the light again, like going there and finding out that I wasn't the only one that this had happened to," said Strasburger.

Kids from across the country attend the camp every year until they graduate at the age of 17. Then many, like Nicole go back as counselors to share their experiences with the new incoming campers.

But just months before they were to go back, camp was canceled.

"Everyone was outraged," said Strasburger. "It was worse than finding out someone died basically, it was not just losing one person, it was losing our entire family."

The Northwest Burn Foundation in Seattle holds the camp every year. But this year, Nicole says new executive director, Amber Fowler cancelled it.

"She just cancelled something that she had no idea what it was about," said Strasburger. "She's never been to the camp before, she doesn't know what it means for so many of us."

Fowler did not return our calls for an interview. But in an email sent to camp counselors two weeks ago, it stated the foundation cancelled camp to reassess the program.

Campers, counselors and parents are now working to put on the camp without the Northwest Burn Foundation's support.

With less than 84 days to go, they're trying to raise $80,000 dollars, the amount needed to run the camp.

"We're doing everything we can because it's so important, especially for the younger kids," said Strasburger. "Not having camp just one year can have disastrous consequences for everyone."

The word Eyabsut means "to rise above anything".

Nicole hopes to do just that as she and others come together to save what they call their "home away from home."

If you'd like to help Nicole and other burn survivors save their camp, go to www.saveburncamp.org to make your donation.