1. What is Camp Kesem?
Camp Kesem is a free weeklong summer camp for children between the ages of 6-16 whose parents have or have had cancer. It is a chance for them to get away from the stresses of home for a week and just be a kid! The camp is completely volunteer, and it is planned and run by UW students! It is a chance for students to give a unique support system to children and their families, as well as a way to form a great community within the organization and develop great leadership skills. Camp Kesem is a national organization on 38 different college campuses, but this is its third year on the UW campus.
2. How did you get involved in the camp?
I got involved with camp after getting a mass email freshman year about an organization that wanted to get started on campus, and they needed dedicated and passionate student volunteers to help make this work! The first year, Camp Kesem had 10 students on the executive board, and we brought 15 kids to camp our first summer. This next summer will be our third summer, and we are going to welcome 50 campers between the ages of 6-13, and 15 campers between the ages of 14-16 for our brand new teen camp! We've grown so much in these past three years, and have had tremendous support from many donors, university supporters, and the support of the Madison community.
3. What's your role?
My current role is the Public Relations Coordinator and Make the Magic Event Planner. As the PR coordinator, I design the promotional material for camp, keep up on our social media, update our website, and reach out to the Madison community to get the word out. As the Make the Magic Event Planner, I lead a committee of students to plan and execute a benefit dinner and silent auction to raise money for camp. These two roles have definitely kept me busy this year! At camp, I will also be a counselor with our Teen program, which I am really looking forward to!
4. What's your favorite memory?
It's hard to say what my favorite memory is, as it definitely is the highlight of my summer! Two of my favorites would have to be our empowerment ceremonies, and teaching the campers "Varsity!" At our empowerment ceremony, the campers and counselors have a chance to share their "Kesem story," and what brings them to camp. No one is required to talk about cancer at camp, but this ceremony gives them the chance to do so if they would like to share their feelings. It is extremely powerful, and many campers say it was one of the highlights of the week because it helps relieve some of their stresses and worries. Additionally, at the end of our camp week, we sing "Varisty!" with the campers. There is truly no better feeling than singing my favorite Badger song with the most amazing group of kids that has changed my life!
5. Are you going to try and stay involved after graduation?
I will definitely stay involved after graduation! Camp Kesem has established a great Alumni Association that does a lot of work post-graduation to help out campuses across the country. Many campuses look to get support and advice from previous Kesemers, so it will be fun to move to a new city and connect with the Camp Kesem at that university!