From Camper to Counselor

July 11, 2014





My name is Peter “Chop Suey” Reynaga and my story starts in June of 2006 when I was admitted to University Medical Center of Southern Nevada hospital for my burn injuries. That June, I met former AARBF employee Renee “Baker” Croteau. She told me and my family about Champ Camp and how great it was. The next summer I signed up and went to Champ Camp. It was a wonderful experience and truly lived up to the hype. I got to go to camp for four years as a camper and one year as a CIT.  Those were some of the best weeks of my life.

Champ Camp 2014 was the first year I went to Champ Camp as a Camp Counselor. It was big step to take with a lot of mixed emotions. At the beginning of the week I was excited and nervous all at the same time. I was excited to be back at Camp with the people I looked up to and loved, but I was also nervous about how it would be to serve as a role model and leader for my campers. My co-counselors made it easier on me and really helped me through the week. It felt great see all the campers and help them have a great week. I really enjoyed being able to work with a lot of the Counselors that I respected and looked up to as a camper.

As a way of giving more to the Foundation, I decided to shave my beard that I have been growing for more than a year— but only if I could raise $750.00; the cost of sending a burn-injured child to Champ Camp. Throughout the week of Champ Camp, all of the Camp Counselors made donations to help me reach my goal of raising $750.00. Well, after one week at Champ Camp, I did not raise $750.00…I raised $1627.00!! With the support of all of the Champ Camp counselors I was able to raise enough money to send TWO children to Champ Camp next year!!

I just want to thank the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation for the opportunity to be a Counselor for the week. It was a great experience and I can’t wait for next year!

With $1627.00 raised, I shaved my beard to support the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation’s Champ Camp!

With $1627.00 raised, I shaved my beard to support the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation’s Champ Camp!

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Christina Min: Ellwood & Louise Reed Bridge to Life Scholarship Recipient

September 15, 2012


I have been a part of AARBF for the past 12 years, Champ Camp for the past 10. Not only does that make me feel like I’m getting old but it also makes me feel extremely lucky.

I never thought that Champ Camp had an impact on me when I was younger, it was just a summer camp to me where we shot arrows and swam in pools. It’s by looking back that I can see that was the point, I learned to be a carefree child. Without even realizing, I stopped caring what others thought of me and it wasn’t just my scars, it was all my self-conscious parts, too. I have to credit AARBF for this, they allowed me to become myself for all hours of the day, 365 days a year. Plus, without seeing my family at Champ Camp, my school year would have been a bust. Camp is what got me through every dreaded school year and chemistry test because I kept thinking, “If I can get through this, it’ll bring me closer to camp.”

Now that I am 19, that doesn’t mean my time with AARBF has stopped. I still plan on attending events for an indefinite amount of time and supporting my camp family. And I know AARBF is still supporting me, especially with the Ellwood & Louise Reed Bridge to Life Scholarship. This scholarship helps me breath easier so I can focus more on my studies and goals at UCSB, rather than working more hours at my two jobs. Right now, I am also trying to save up for my study abroad year at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, so the Bridge to Life Scholarship is also helping me go half way across the world! From studying abroad in college and joining the Peace Corps, I hope to figure out what I want to do with my life, which right now is possibly law or working for a non-profit organization. Wherever my future ends up though, I doubt that I will miss an AARBF event.

-Christina Min

The Happiest Place on Earth

January 28, 2010

Maria Melendrez

By: Maria Melendrez

The Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation has been essential in my growth and development as a young adult. The Foundation has become my second family, a family who has provided me with something money cannot buy: self esteem, support, and happiness.

When I was five years old I began attending Champ Camp. I was scared and insecure. Not only because I was going to be away from my mother, but because I was not a fluent English speaker. However, being part of an environment where I did not have to hide my scars and be afraid of what others might say or think, made me feel like I was at home. My cabin mates and counselors taught me some English in order for me to be able to communicate with everyone.  By the end of the week I was happy and sad to go home. I was entirely happy because I would be with my family and share the adventures that I had experienced, but I was sad because I wanted to continue to have fun and be MYSELF!

After the first time I went to camp everything was different, the fear of being rejected was not as strong as before and the need to hide my scars did not fill my head. My family was very pleased with my new attitude. As a child I was not aware that I had grown up so much within just one week; a week that I look forward to with great enthusiasm. Champ Camp is a wonderful place, not only because of the beauty that surrounds it but because of the beauty that makes it. What makes camp are the counselors, campers and of course everyone who fundraises and donates to make it possible. Throughout the years I have continued to grow. I am very comfortable with myself and I am proud to be a burn survivor.

Champ Camp and the events throughout the year bring together many different people, with different ethnic backgrounds, showing us that we are not alone in the struggle against our insecurities and traumas. For example, this past year I overcame the fear that I felt towards the ocean and tried surfing with great people that gave me comfort and strength to overcome my fear. But what I am proud of the most is the fact that now I am able to walk around with a sleeveless shirt allowing my scars to be shown.

The Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation has inspired me to give back the support and the love. I am proud to say that I have begun giving back by volunteering in two different events. Those events are the beginning of a long journey that awaits me whether it is as a doctor, nurse or firefighter! I am not sure how it is that I will give back yet, but I always keep in mind that if it was not for the Foundation I would have not the confidence and self empowerment to fight against the odds.

For more information on this year’s Champ Camp please visit

Champ Camp 2008 Photos Ready for Viewing

July 9, 2008

Be one of the first to view all of the great photos of Champ Camp 2008 taken by Raven and Dr. Bob. You’ll be amazed! Check out