What is Camp RED?

Camp RED, which stands for Realize Every Dream, is one of the first children’s burn camps in Minnesota. Currently we offer one summer residential session in August. Whether your camper was burned recently or years ago, you are all progressing through recovery with developmental changes and challenges.

Camp RED gives burn survivors (ages 6-16) the opportunity to live beyond their scars and to be kids again. Our hope is that your time at Camp RED will help you Realize Every Dream for a better tomorrow!

You and your camper will be surrounded by other families who have shared experiences and similar injuries, feelings, fears and concerns. It does not matter what state you live in or what hospital has provided your care, you are welcome at Camp RED. Our caring volunteers want to support you, celebrate each camper and encourage emotional healing with a variety of outdoor activities in the most beautiful setting. Campers will create new friendships and memories to last a lifetime!


Click through the 2019 Camp Album:

Click below to see the 2017 highlight video:

Click below to see the 2018 highlight video:

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Donate Today

We  humbly ask for your support to send a child to camp today for a better tomorrow. Click here to donate today or
send a check directly to
Firefighters for Healing
PO BOX 374
Champlin, MN 55316

If you have questions,
email us at info@campRED.org

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If you would like to volunteer as a camp counselor for the residential session, email us at info@campred.org to apply. We are looking for caring, dependable people (over the age of 20) to be fun and silly while also supervising their campers. Please review Roles & Responsibilities on the FAQ tab here. Applications will be reviewed upon submission and accepted on a rolling basis. Interview (new applicants only), background check and training is required.


Meet Our Leaders 

Together with other volunteers, our leadership staff form the Camp RED
team serving with love, compassion, high energy and loads of knowledge.  
They put their hearts into making camp the best experience
for every camper and his/her family.


Meet Our Founder,
Jake LaFerriere

From the time Jake woke up in the burn unit of Hennepin County Medical Center, his battle and gratitude for life began leading him down a new path full of surprises, transformations and purpose. Before Camp RED came to fruition, there were many moments of serendipity that Jake humbly calls  "thin spaces." Looking back he says it's because that's where he found God's miracles waiting so he could serve others with compassion on a grander scale than as a Station 8 firefighter. And by design, Camp RED is one huge miracle Jake gets to share with burn survivors and their families. Click below to read more about Jake's story.


Brooke Byrd
Executive Director

Ms. Byrd, aka Chief Smile Officer, was raised in Marietta, Georgia and joined the Camp RED family in April 2017. She holds an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education and proudly served the children of Douglasville, Georgia for 14 years as a first and second grade teacher. Since 2004, Ms. Byrd has volunteered at Camp Knutson and feels blessed to spend her summers in a place where kids can Realize Every Dream.


Dr. Jon Gayken, MD
Medical Director

Dr. Gayken’s interest in burn surgery began when he was a patient in the HCMC burn unit nearly 20 years ago.  His recovery from extensive skin grafting has given him deep passion and knowledge of both the acute and long term psychological outcomes affecting burn patients, their families and the reintroduction into their new life and into society.


Maria Schugel
Assistant Director

Maria joined the Camp RED family in the Fall of 2016. She is no stranger to the life of firefighters because she herself was raised by one. Cultivated at an early age, her passion to serve is evident in her chosen professions.  She comes to Camp RED with diverse experience with non-profit organizations including the ACA where she  led many camps to be their best. Thanks to her skills, she has created a behind-the-scenes operation at Camp RED that is second to none.  She currently works as a therapeutic recreation program director in Chanhassen.


Chris Dunker
Vice Chair
Chris joined the Firefighters For Healing team as the Vice Chair in 2014.  He has a unique ability to maximize each hour of every day to connect with people, raise capital and build community. His role on the Board has evolved and utilizes his strengths to make magic happen and build on the dreams we all have for the burn survivor and firefighter community. He lists 'realizing our dream' of launching Camp RED among our team's greatest accomplishments and his favorite memory of the inaugural year at Camp RED was without question the 'water wars' with the Cross Lake firetruck. 



Angie Whitley
Lead Nurse

Nurse Angie joined the Camp RED team in the summer of 2017. She has spent many years as a burn nurse at HCMC caring for burn patients.  She is overjoyed to continue caring for these kiddos outside the hospital at Camp RED. When you see Nurse Angie at camp, she's the one carrying around the camera. In-between mending bumps and bruises with ice packs and band-aides, she serves as the unofficial camp photographer. Some would say it is her insurance policy to avoid being pushed into the lake or splashed with water! 


Camp RED Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply?

Registration for new and returning campers and/or families will be posted here in March 2020.

What does it cost?

Camp RED is free for any child affected by a burn injury PLUS one family member. We consider a family member to be a parent, legal guardian, grandparent or sibling. Space is available for up to 2 more people per family. Each additional person costs $200. All campers and siblings must be ages 6-16. For those who apply and meet certain qualifications, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of additional family members.  If your camper has a special medical need, please contact info@campred.org  to see if Camp RED would be a good fit for your camper.

Who supervises my camper?

If an adult accompanies your camper, then the primary supervision will be that adult. However, each group of campers will be assigned a cabin counselor to supervise, engage with the campers and siblings, build cabin spirit, and make each moment special.  We also have a lead doctor and nurse on staff to administer medications, provide first aid, and make any necessary medical decisions regarding your camper’s care. Camp Knutson also has a staff on site to lead activities and provide assistance. All staff members and volunteers are thoroughly trained and have passed a comprehensive background check. 

Where is Camp RED?

Camp RED utilizes the beautiful grounds and dedicated staff of Camp Knutson in Crosslake, MN. Click here for a virtual tour.

We will provide bus transportation to and from camp at no additional cost. Parking is available at the Minneapolis pick up/drop off site so your entire family can ride the bus together. However, you and your family are welcome to drive to Camp Knutson and meet us there. If you plan to pick up/drop off your camper and sibling(s) at Camp Knutson, you will need to stay with them until the bus arrives.

How do I get to and from camp?

What are meals like at camp?

Meals are served family-style with a variety of options to satisfy anyone with food allergies and restrictions. In your application, you can make clear any concerns or needs for the kitchen staff. Snacks are also provided in the afternoons and evenings. However, we discourage outside food and drink at Camp RED.

What can I expect from a day at Camp RED?

The day begins at 8:15 am with our traditional Flag Ceremony. After breakfast, everyone participates in various morning activities including horseback riding, archery, canoeing, fishing, arts and crafts, support groups, nature and more. The afternoon is a mix of free-time and waterfront activities full of swimming, tubing, stand up paddle boards, games, and more. Then, everyone is off to dinner and an evening of fun all-camp games with family and/or cabin mates before bedtime. Songs, campfires, costumes, and silly games are found all throughout Camp RED. We even have a few special guests, so expect some surprises too.

What does my camper need to pack?

After your application is complete, you will receive a detailed acceptance packet with all the important information needed to prepare for camp. Things to keep in mind in packing: close-toed shoes for horseback riding, water shoes/sandals, bedding and pillow, two towels (shower and lake), stuffed animal, a book, and/or stationary.  Things to avoid: electronic devices (phones, Ipads, Ipods, etc), candy/food, valuable possessions, weapons, and your pet. A complete packing list will be a part of the acceptance packet.

How do I apply for financial assistance?

Your camper and one family member attend Camp RED for free but if your family wants more than 2 people at camp, there is a $200 fee per person. Financial assistance is available to cover additional cost. When you complete the Registration Form, it will ask for the members of the family who wish to attend Camp. Complete the Financial Aid application when this is more than the camper and one parent or sibling. You can apply for one or two additional scholarships on the same form. Financial aid is not guaranteed. The deadline to apply for financial assistance is July 8, 2019. If you do not hear the Camp Director by August 10, 2019, there might be a problem with your application(s).

Does my camper have to be a current or past patient at HCMC?  

Not at all. We welcome campers who are treated at any hospital.

What time and where will my camper leave/arrive for camp?

We plan to leave and arrive at the same location: the Minneapolis Emergency Operations and Training Center at 25 37th Ave NE, Fridley, MN 55421. This is the same location as 2018 but it might change as we get closer to camp. On Monday, we will meet inside in the morning (time TBA) to get your camper and/or family registered, greet your fellow cabin mates and counselor, and learn about what to expect at Camp RED. We will return on Thursday to Fridley in the evening (time TBA) and meet outside so you can check your camper out with his/her counselor. Your acceptance packet will include all the important details and changes.

Camp RED Counselor Job Description:

ALL volunteer staff members at Camp RED must:

  • be a minimum of 20 years old (by the first day of camp)

  • commit to the total program and philosophy of Camp RED

  • attend training session prior to the beginning of camp

  • possess strength and endurance required to maintain consistent supervision of campers at all times

  • possess exceptional interpersonal communication skills

  • possess attributes of tolerance, fairness, maturity, and good humor

  • communicate any behavior concerns about campers directly to the Camp Director as soon as possible

Camp Counselors will:

  • live in a cabin and supervise a group of 7-9 campers of a similar age

  • monitor the daily health and safety of each camper assigned

  • carry out camp programs and participate in all camp activities with campers
    assess appropriateness of camper behavior and apply appropriate behavior modification techniques

  • enforce safety regulations and emergency procedures

  • promote a sense of unity while addressing individual needs of each camper, encourage friendships and positive interactions among campers

  • enhance the self esteem of each camper by encouraging and guiding them to participate successfully in all aspects of camp activities

  • enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of each camper assigned to you

Volunteer Roles & Responsibilities