Many schools open next week, but for one group of Ozarks kids - the highlight of the summer is happening right now.
They're spending a week at a camp for child burn victims.
Each camper has a different story, but that's what strengthens their bond - each of them spent at least four days in a hospital burn unit.
Jessie Wilkerson's story begins at age five. She survived a house fire and suffered extreme burns on both hands.
Ten surgeries later, the 16-year-old Blue Eye native calls Burn Camp the best week of the year - and the place she first learned to be herself.
"some burn people try to shut you out," Wilkerson tells KSPR News. "Then we go on the low ropes course and it just brings everyone together and they come out of their shell."
This is Wilkerson's fourth trip to Burn Camp, but she says there's no difference between rookie and veteran.
Burn camp is not just a choice for kids like Wilkerson to get to know one another and build some self confidence. At its core, camp is simply an opportunity unlike any for most of these kids. Out of the 81 campers, 60 are on a free or reduced lunch program at schools.
This is the 16th summer for the Missouri Children's Burn Camp, which is held at the Camp Sabra in Rocky Mount, MO.
(Camp Sabra is full-time sleep away camp run by the St. Louis Jewish Community Center)
Organizers raised almost $150,000 through grants and donations.