Cancer. This is a word we are all familiar with, and some of us more than others. Some of you may be familiar with the numerous cancer foundations such as the American Cancer Society’s Relay For life, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Live Strong, and many other great organizations dedicated to donations, awareness, and fundraising for this disease. But here at FSU some students are a part of something that goes beyond the research and directly affects the families involved. Camp Kesem At Florida State University is a non-profit organization that provides a free week of camp for children with parents affected by cancer. While most of the focus is usually put on those battling cancer, this organization takes time to support kids who are battling the possibility of losing their parents.
Camp Kesem is a national organization with over 50 chapters around the country. FSU started their chapter in 2011 making 2014 their third year helping kids. Kids ages 6-16 can apply to the camp if they have had a parent or guardian affected by cancer. The parent can be currently receiving treatment, in remission, or even deceased. However, in addition to providing a week of camp, this organization also provides year round support for the kids, ranging from two reunions a year (one in the fall and one in the spring), sending birthday cards, and a new program in which parents can inform the organization when a camper has sporting events or performances and some of the counselors will go and support them at the event.
I spoke with Heather Ravner, the Outreach Coordinator for the FSU chapter, who is in charge of reaching out to families, camper applications, and recruitment. This will be her third year as a counselor for the camp. “I found out about Camp Kesem the spring of my freshman year and thought it was such a wonderful cause. I was looking for a way to make FSU seem a little bit smaller and I love working with kids so I knew it would be a good fit for me. It has made me grow as a person, just by seeing how strong the kids are and how incredibly brave they are.”
The camp is funded through donations and fundraising collected by those involved in the organization. “This year we currently have 40 campers registered which is twice as many as we had attend last year. 40 was our goal, but if we fundraise more money we can take more campers.” Ravner told me.
So how can you help Camp Kesem, or become apart of this wonderful organization? Students can get involved by coming to a general body meeting and paying dues, interviewing to be a camp counselor, and fundraising throughout the year. The dates of this year’s camp are August 3rd though August 8th. The camp is completely run and planned by the students of FSU. They decide on a theme for the week and the activities that will be carried out. Ravner explained what students can receive in return for being apart of this organization: “By participating in events for Camp Kesem you can get service hours needed for different organizations or graduation and its a great way to give back to the community. We have a variety of different people with different backgrounds related to cancer, some have been affected personally and others haven’t, and its just fun! We also get to go to camp and be kids for a week!”
The FSU chapter will be hosting a 2nd annual 5K on April 19th with proceeds going to help Camp Kesem make this year’s camp extra fun. For more information on how you can get involved with Camp Kesem visit the Camp Kesem at Florida State facebook page for updates on upcoming events, fundraisers, and share nights. You can make donations by going to http://campkesem.org/fsu. They also accept cash and check donations. If you are serious about volunteering contact their volunteer coordinator at email@example.com