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Club Feature: Camp Kesem at Cal Poly SLO

Beyond classes, there are so many factors that make up the “college experience”, one being clubs. Cal Poly boasts 400+ different student organizations to join on its campus, ranging from academic to social to service clubs. One incredible group on campus to check out is Camp Kesem. 

Camp Kesem is a nationwide nonprofit organization that works to provide fun and supportive summer camps and year-round programming to support children affected by a parent’s cancer, free of charge. Cal Poly’s chapter of Kesem serves children and their families in the greater San Luis Obispo community, and is operated by a group of passionate college students. 

The club hosts multiple events throughout the year to support their community, like “Friends and Family Days” where club members get to meet and interact with children and their caregivers. Games, songs, opportunities for connection and bonding, and fun and silly “camp names” add to the positive environment Kesem brings. Their main event, a week-long summer camp, occurs annually, and prospective counselors eagerly anticipate a return to in-person programming this year. They also fundraise as a chapter, surpassing a $10,000 goal this past Giving Tuesday. 

“I love Kesem because it gives me the chance to help foster a community of friendship and ‘normalcy’ for kids who deal with such stressful situations otherwise,” Co-Director Arushi “Sushi” Tewari comments. 

Fellow Co-Director Grace “Peppy” Ballard adds her reasoning for joining the club: “One of my most kindhearted and influential coaches in high school would always talk about how being a Camp Kesem camper and then counselor had made such an incredible impact on his life. When I saw Cal Poly’s chapter set up at Club Showcase and got such amazing vibes from everyone, I was completely hooked! I can’t tell you how happy I am to be a part of an organization helping kiddos in SLO to have the community building opportunities and experiences that impacted Coach Ian so much!” 

The environment truly is magical, and a great way to get involved at Cal Poly in a service-oriented club while making incredible connections and expanding your community. “Sushi” adds, “I also adore all the people I have met through Kesem, as their passion and dedication towards our kids inspires me every day!” 

For more information, follow the club at @campkesem_calpolyslo on Instagram or check out their Facebook

Emi Nishida

Cal Poly '24

Emi Nishida is a second year English major and Child Development minor from Irvine, California. She serves as an editor and editorial writer for Cal Poly’s chapter of Her Campus. Other than writing, her passions include concerts, romcoms, anything arts & crafts, and exploring the outdoors.
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