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Kids who survived wildfire benefit from YMCA summer camp

The kids attended a weeklong summer camp thanks to community contributions.

SALEM, Ore. — Summer break is coming to a close for many kids, but for some kids who experienced the trauma of last year’s devastating wildfires, this summer was especially meaningful.

Twelve-year-old Izzy Brown, who lives in Mill City, remembers last year’s wildfire that burned homes in the Santiam Canyon.

“I was feeling like I was going to faint. I felt like I was going to die,” recalled Izzy.

That kind of trauma is hard to forget.

“I still get paranoid about it. Whenever I see smoke or burn piles, I’m like 'oh my god,'” Izzy said.

For one week this summer, she had a chance to let go of a little of that anxiety at Camp Silver Creek located in Silver Falls State Park.

“It’s pretty fun because you get to do archery and stuff, and the food’s really good,” said Izzy.

The 12-year-old was one of a couple dozen kids who were part of the YMCA of Marion and Polk Counties’ Canyon Campers program. The idea is to help kids who were affected in some way by wildfire, spend some time at summer camp. Starting in May, community members began raising money and donated things to send kids to camp.

“We’ve had great donations too just to provide supplies because kids lost supplies as well. So that’s been amazing. We’ve gotten sleeping bags, we got sweatshirts, water bottles, bathing suits, different things that some of them lost during the fires,” said Mariah Fairman, Camp Silver Creek director.

Fairman said there were even camp counselors available if a kid wanted to talk to someone.

Jim Trett, the mayor of Detroit, Ore., one of the hardest hit towns in the Santiam Canyon, grew up going to Camp Silver Creek and knows the benefit of being in the outdoors.

“It gave these kids a chance to come up here to a beautiful place, a very special place, and have a week of being a kid,” said Trett.

Izzy’s mom, Jennifer Dodge, said her daughter loved the experience.

“She had the best time and it was so good for her,” Dodge said.

“It’s helping me mentally because it’s helping me socialize with people,” added Izzy.

She had a message to the people who helped her and other kids go to camp.

“Thank you so much for helping us and the campers […] you are very kind and I’m glad you took the time out of your life to do that.”