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Thu Sep 19, 2019, 01:05 PM

'I'm not alone': Burn camp brings together children living with scars

‘I’m not alone’: Burn camp brings together children living with scars

By Justin Wm. Moyer
September 19 at 7:00 AM

Ensign Christian Montgomery’s crisp service whites can’t hide the pale burn scar on his face as he walks the grounds of the Naval Academy.

Compared with the values he’s built his life around — a commitment to his country and the community of young people learning to live with burn scars — the mark a hot iron left on his face at 8 months old is about as relevant as a passing cloud. It’s that confidence in his own appearance that he hopes to impart to others.

“My scar is just something on my skin,” said Montgomery, 23, who graduated last year from the academy. “It’s not any deeper than that.”

The freshly minted ensign flew in from Boston, where he’s a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at the behest of the International Association of Fire Fighters Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the labor union that sponsors the International Burn Camp each year.

After viewing Japanese torpedoes and the final resting place of Revolutionary War naval hero Capt. John Paul Jones, the campers were ready for lunch. Walking the Naval Academy’s tidy brick paths, the group came upon a midshipman with a cast, slowly navigating his way across campus on crutches.

Gray, who speculated he “probably” would join the Navy minutes before, offered the stranger immediate encouragement. Showing empathy for others — and building empathy for themselves — is just what burn campers do.

“You got it!” he shouted.

Justin Wm. Moyer is a breaking news reporter for The Washington Post. After a long stint as a contributing writer at the Washington City Paper, he came to The Post in 2008, becoming an editor in Outlook and for the Morning Mix, The Post's overnight team. He became a reporter in 2015. Follow https://twitter.com/justinwmmoyer

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