May 2023 Burn Survivor & Family Message

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May 2023 Burn Survivor & Family Message

Hello AARBF Family. My name is Andrew Mersmann, and I am the Director of Programs and Services.

Here we are, already in May! You know in December when everyone is caroling “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Yearrrrr”? – well, for our amazing survivors ages 5-17, Champ Camp in June is the MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR…what that means now is, camper applications are due very very soon! Be sure to log in and start as soon as possible—applications for Champ Camp close on May 22, so we want to be sure everyone is lined up to have the best week ever (June 10-17 are the 2023 Champ Camp dates)!

May also kicks our outdoor time into high gear. If you are spending more time outdoors, we all need sunscreen and maybe hats or protective clothing to keep us safe from sunburn and smiling through the season. If you’re doing outdoor cooking, make sure you practice fantastic barbecue and grilling skills and safety habits (keep grills on a level surface, ten or more feet away from the house or structure, children and pets stay far away from active cooking areas indoors and out, use long-handled safe cooking tools and non-flammable mitts, never leave a lit grill unattended, and scrub away grease buildup between uses).

Enjoy the weather, the company of your loved ones, and come spend some time within your AARBF family in support groups and events—find all the lists and links below.

See you soon!

If you are a burn survivor or family member and wish to be added to our monthly email, please email and indicate your region.

Champ Camp Apps Close in May

June 10-17, 2023

Ages 5-17
Wonder Valley Resort, Sanger 

Time is running out to complete your child’s Champ Camp registration. Due to the health, wellness and safety of your child, we will not be able to accept applications past May 22, 2023.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Champ Camp, it is a week-long summer camp for burn survivor children ages 5-17. Camp is held at Wonder Valley Ranch in Sanger (in the foothills near Fresno).

Click here to check out more about Champ Camp.

Parents/Guardians: If your survivor is interested in attending Champ Camp this year, please use the link below to register. You will sign into your Camp Doc profile or create a new one, click “Register for a New Session”, then select Camper 2023. Once you are there, be sure to fill out all of the questions in the Health Profile tab.

As camp gets closer, we will be in contact regarding pick up locations, what to pack and a bunch of other important details.

If you have any questions regarding Champ Camp, please contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at

Champ Camp Carnival

Volunteer Opportunity
June 14, 2023 at 3:00pm – 9:00pm

Wonder Valley Resort, Sanger

We are hosting a carnival at Champ Camp and are looking for volunteers to help run the booths and games. This is a great opportunity for someone who wishes they could volunteer at Champ Camp but are unable to carve a full week out of their schedule.

If you have any questions regarding the Champ Camp Carnival, please contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at

Women’s Empowerment Weekend - Rescheduled

September 8-10, 2023

Calvin Crest, Oakhurst

Due to inclement weather, the Women’s Empowerment Weekend had to be rescheduled. The new dates are September 8-10, 2023. With this change, we were able to reopen the registration. If you wanted to attend in March but didn’t get the chance, don’t let this new opportunity pass you by!

The Women’s Empowerment Weekend is open to women burn survivors, ages 21+. The weekend is facilitated by Cindy Rutter, Ruth Rimmer and Wendy Domster and provides a safe space to discuss issues and concerns directly affecting women burn survivors.

If you have any questions regarding the Women’s Empowerment Weekend, please contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at

Educational Scholarships Available

Due June 30, 2023

Attention Trade School, Junior College, and College Students (or those planning to be enrolled in the 2023/2024 academic year)…

It’s time apply for the AARBF “Bridge to Life” Scholarship offered by the Woody and Louise Reed family to support burn survivors and their family members pursuing higher education.

It’s money for school, and it’s available to you to apply!

For those traveling even farther down the academic road, toward a Master’s degree or PhD, be sure to apply for the “Aiming Higher” scholarship to help support your academic pursuits. The same link and application (Bridge to Life) are used for Aiming Higher and you can possibly be eligible and awarded BOTH scholarships.

For questions regarding these two scholarships, please email us at

Phoenix Society World Burn Congress Scholarships

Conference Dates: October 4-7, 2023
Scholarship Applications Due: August 18, 2023

Did you hear the news? Registration is now open for the Phoenix World Burn Congress 2023 (WBC). This year’s event will be on October 4-7 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. To learn more about this event and to register, please visit:

AARBF offers a Phoenix World Burn Congress Scholarship which provides financial assistance to cover costs for registration to participate in the WBC. To learn more and apply, please click on the link below.

Support Groups

We have made changes to our support group registration process. Please contact Scott Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 190 for all group registrations, regardless of your region.

Our Zoom rooms have changed. You will need to be registered with Scott to receive the new Zoom links.

We are also working at restoring our regional groups to in-person. Scott will be happy to provide you with more information on this and address any concerns you may have.

Regional Support Groups

Southern California – May 7, 2023 from 1:30pm – 3:30pm. Currently virtual, this group is available to both survivors and their family members.

Fresno Community Regional Medical Center – May 9, 2023 from 6:30pm – 8:00pm. This is an in-person regional support group open to both survivors and their family members. You may also contact Marissa McCallough at to register.

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center – May 3, 2023 from 7:00pm – 8:30pm. This is an in-person regional support group open to both survivors and their family members.

East Bay Burn Survivor – May 10, 2023 from 6:30pm – 8:00pm. This is an in-person regional support group open to both survivors and their family members.

North Bay Burn Survivor – May 3, 2023 from 6:30pm – 8:00pm. This is an in-person regional support group open to both survivors and their family members.

Saint Francis – May 25, 2023 from 11:30am – 1:00pm. Currently virtual, this group is available to both survivors and their family members.

Statewide Online Support Groups - All Virtual

All virtual support groups are open to out of state survivors. Please contact Scott Wertz to learn more.

Caregiver – May 4, 2023 from 7:00pm – 8:30pm. This is an online state-wide support group for family members, caregivers, and loved ones of burn survivors. This group is closed to burn survivors.

Spanish Speaking – May 16, 2023 from 6:00pm – 7:30pm. This is an online support group specifically designed for Spanish-speaking burn survivors.

Statewide – May 18, 2023 from 7:00pm – 8:30pm. This is an online support group open to both burn survivors and their loved ones throughout California.

Additional Support

Peer Support – Not everyone is comfortable in a group setting, which is why the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation offers one-on-one Peer Support. Peer Support is a power tool for healing from a burn trauma. There is something magical that happens when one survivor sits and shares their experience and healing process with another. Peer support can relieve the feeling of being all alone in your experience. Peer support can come in many forms; a burn survivor talking to another burn survivor, a parent talking to another parent or loved one. This service is not limited to burn survivors. A burn injury can affect the entire family, caregivers and other loved ones. Contact Scott Wertz at to get started today.

Back to School Support (available upon request) – Contact Scott Wertz at to learn more about this program.

Featured Videos

AARBF’s Multimedia Resource Library includes tip sheets, videos, stories, and so much more. Video content within the library has been developed by the AARBF Community; including our staff, volunteers, burn survivors and community partners! Below are our featured videos for July!

How to Control Anxiety

AARBF Wellness Team members Jamba and Poppy share ways to help you manage stress and anxiety through breathing.

Yoga Modifications

If you want to try yoga but think your body can’t do the yoga poses, then this video is for you. Our yoga team will show you how to modify the poses to suit your body.