Making Magic with Camp Kesem

If you’ve seen some people walking around campus in tee shirts with caterpillars printed on them, those people are probably volunteers for Camp Kesem. Camp Kesem is a week-long summer camp for children who have been touched by a parent’s cancer. It’s a student-led organization that fundraises year-round to send thousands of kids to camp across the country, completely free of charge for the campers.


For a lot of the campers that come to Camp Kesem, home just isn’t the same after their mom or dad is diagnosed with cancer. They’re forced to grow up too fast and be strong in the face of the disease. I was surprised to find that Camp Kesem is the only national organization catering to this group of people who are so in need of attention and understanding.


While at camp, the kids will meet new friends, make memories and have the chance to just be kids again. Part of the nightly routine throughout the week is an activity called “cabin chat” where the campers can open up and talk about what they are going through, or simply listen to others and relate to their experiences.


Camp is a time for these kids to feel fully accepted and understood. It’s a time for them to laugh, cry, talk things through, and be themselves. As one camper said, “I don’t have to pretend to be this kid who is OK. I can just be who I want to be.” Hearing stories of the campers and what they have gone through is heartbreaking, but seeing how positively Camp Kesem has impacted them is incredibly inspiring.


Kids who have been affected by a parent’s cancer shouldn’t have to feel alone, because they’re not alone. Camp Kesem shows them that, and that's making magic to me.