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Burn Camp Holding Book Drive In Montgomery County

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Counselors hope the campers will be encouraged to read by associating books with their time at camp.
Matt Bush
Counselors hope the campers will be encouraged to read by associating books with their time at camp.

For the rest of the week, a camp for young burn survivors is collecting books at the Montgomery County courthouse in Rockville, Md.

The 25th Mid-Atlantic Burn Camp is next week in Virginia, but the book drive is taking place at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Maryland. Those who attend the camp will get to take the donated books home after it ends.

Standing outside the courthouse in Rockville, 13-year-old Tyzenoa Austin. She's wearing a dress that reveals the burn that spans her entire right arm, something she attributes to her six summers at camp.

"It helps me talk more about my burn, being more open with people," Austin says. "It helps me do more stuff, and show my arm off."

Getting kids to be comfortable enough to talk about their burns can be difficult, says Tonas Kalil, one of the camp's directors. But he adds being around others who struggle with the issue as well, helps.

"People are naturally curious. They see something unusual and they'll stare. And there's nothing inherently evil about someone being interested in what happened," Kalil says. "People will ask questions because they're curious, so we teach kids they need three stories: They need a very short version like 'I was burned once. I'm doing really well now. Thank you for asking.'"

Kalil says the other two stories should be longer and only told to people who are close to the child telling it.

Books for campers will be accepted at the courthouse through Friday.

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