A Shout Out to Camp Kesem

Kesem (n.): magic; the ability to change a life; an agent of growth; the unique power that transforms kids into Camp Kesem Campers (source: Camp Kesem)

Camp Kesem recognizes and embraces the often-overlooked population of children affected by a parent’s cancer. Camp Kesem empowers college student leaders nationwide to create a free, life changing summer camp to kids effected by a parent’s cancer. (Source: Camp Kesem)

Camp Kesem has been in operation since 2001, with it’s first camp. It was first brought to light by a Stanford university student in 2000. This student had family members affected by cancer.

Today, there are 63 charters. All camps are run by college students, and take place at a real “summer camp.”

Summer camps are not all the same. Some kids go to sports camps, some kids go to religious camps. This camp has it’s own unique theme.

Kids who attend Camp Kesem have a parent with cancer, had cancer, or died from cancer.

The program runs for one week in August. It is a free program, funded by donations. The LIVESTRONG foundation has been very gracious with helping to fund charters.

Millions of children are affected by a parent’s cancer each year. Sometimes these children become caregivers, and/or help with their siblings. Unfortunately, these kids tend to grow up faster than their peers. Camp Kesem let’s them get away from all the craziness and just be a kid.

Children who attend camp are between the ages of 6 and 18. They are involved in many great activities.

Like many camps, there is swimming, arts and crafts, sports and drama. The teens get to go on an overnight camp out. Something unique to this camp is the “cabin chats” which are done nightly. These chats are led by counselors and fellow campers. It gives everyone time to share their experience with one another…..if they want.

This year I have two children who will be attending Camp Kesem.

My son Max, better known as “Ribs” (all campers and counselors take on a nickname), is attending Camp Kesem MIT ( Massachusetts Institute of Technolgy) at Camp Wekeela in Hartford, ME

My daughter, Michaela, better known as “Butterfly”, is a volunteer counselor with Camp Kesem GW ( The George Washington University, which she attends), at Camp Louise in Cascade, MD

Both are at camp as I write this blog post. I can’t wait to hear all about their experiences.

I am grateful that such a camp exists. It’s a great opportunity for children going through similar challenges to express their feelings with those who can best relate to them. Please spread the word. I wish I would have known about Camp Kesem four years ago when I was first diagnosed.

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