Burn Camp scrambling, East Troy site in jeopardy: 'Total shock'

The organizers of Burn Camp, a popular summer camp for youth burn victims in southeastern Wisconsin, are looking for a new home after owners of the current host site announced plans to close it without warning.

At Camp Timber-lee, a rural campground in East Troy, parades don't just fall on holidays – they have been a Burn Camp staple for nearly three decades.

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"There's really probably no place like it that can replicate what we've done for the last 28 years at Camp Timber-lee," said Michael Wos, executive director of the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin Charitable Foundation. The organization puts on Burn Camp.

"This is a place where kids with these severe burn injuries can go to just be kids and not worry about the world around them, their appearance or anything else. They just get to be kids."

Burn Camp in East Troy

Now, the world around them has Burn Camp in jeopardy. Illinois-based Trinity International University announced Friday it will close Camp Timber-lee as part of a plan to "reimagine" the school's future.

In a message to the community, University President Nicholas Parrin blamed enrollment drops and COVID-caused revenue losses, writing in part: "Our love for Timber-lee's message makes the decision to close the camp especially hard."

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"It was a total shock," said Wos. 

Wos said the Christian university never notified Burn Camp organizers of the move. Now, they're scrambling to find a home in time for this year's camp.

Camp Timber-lee in East Troy

"Right now, we're working on plans A, B, C, D, E to just make sure we have continuity of our programming," Wos said.

Burn Camp is 100% committed to hosting this year's event, scheduled for Aug. 13-19, Wos said. Organizers have already reached out to other campgrounds, but Wos said they would prefer to stay at Camp Timber-lee.