Kesem is a nationwide community, driven by passionate college student leaders, that supports children through and beyond their parent’s cancer. Kesem is the largest national organization dedicated to supporting children impacted by a parent’s cancer, at no cost to families. Our innovative and fun-filled programs provide children with peers who understand their unique needs, and create long-lasting impact.
With over 5 million children impacted by a parent’s cancer, Camp Kesem must continue expanding to meet this need. Kesem is the largest national organization dedicated to this unique population, and for many children their Camp Kesem experience is a life-changing event – providing them a community of children with similar experiences, and a safe and welcoming environment to have fun and rediscover their childhood.
Beyond that, our replicable and highly scalable funding model also allows for rapid expansion. Kesem now serves 10 times the number of children supported ten years ago. In summer 2018, nearly 9,000 children attended over 100 week-long sessions of Camp Kesem held at fun and exciting campsites from coast-to-coast. And with your help, we hope to continue supporting more and more children each year!
Thank you for being an important part of our growth as we support children through and beyond their parent’s cancer with innovative, fun-filled programs that foster a lasting community!
Our fantastic counselors will wake you up bright and early every day! And trust us, everyone gets ready super-fast because a new, fun-filled day is ready to start.
MORNING ACTIVITY ROTATIONS
During daily rotations, campers travel with their unit (peers in the same age group) from activity to activity. Rotation areas typically include the ropes courses (such as ziplining or rock-climbing), arts and crafts, sports, water activities and adventure/nature. Each rotation is led by program counselors who plan a variety of exciting events for the week of camp tailored to the age group. With every activity at Kesem, participation is optional and alternate choices are always made available.
Lunchtime is a time to recharge, refuel and have more fun! Every Camp Kesem has their own traditions for campers to participate in to remind them of the loving community they are a part of. One of our camps does a lunchtime “Web of Kindness” – where any camper has the opportunity to share a story about someone helping them out, something awesome that they saw another camper do, etc. No matter what the tradition is, every Camp Kesem camper is regularly reminded of the love and support surrounding them by their fellow campers, their counselors and the entire camp staff during their fun week!
Even though there are so many activities to be done at Camp Kesem, everyone gets a period specifically to rest so that they have enough energy to enjoy all those activities!
AFTERNOON ACTIVITY ROTATIONS
Similar to the morning activity rotations, each age group travels to a different activity together.
DINNER & SONGS
Dinner is a great place to catch up with friends and wind down from the day. As with all our meals, you’ll find some campers doing silly camp songs and others reading a book or making friendship bracelets with their friends!
Every evening, the entire camp participates in an all-camp activity, whether it be a giant game of capture the flag, a talent show, or s’mores and skits!
CABIN CHAT & LIGHTS OUT
Before bedtime, campers gather in their cabins and have a “Cabin Chat.” Cabin Chats give everyone in the cabin the chance to speak in a comfortable atmosphere about anything on their mind- from thoughts on their day at camp to their experiences at home. Everyone is encouraged to participate. Once Cabin Chat is finished, all of the campers and counselors go to sleep to get ready for another fun-filled day!
BREAKFAST & SONGS
Meals at Camp Kesem are always tons of fun! Three nutritious meals each day are prepared by the campsite staff, and most dietary restrictions can be accommodated. Camp Kesem mealtime is a great time to get to know other people at camp and counselors will help facilitate everyone getting to know one another. We also sometimes have silly, fun camp song time (with regular dancing!). Soon you will feel like you are part of a big, silly, loving family!
Everybody needs a little down time! During “Cabin Time,” campers have a chance to relax with their bunkmates, nap, do crafts, or write letters home. Cabin time is dispersed throughout the day to keep everyone’s energy level up (counselors included!)
A favorite activity at Camp Kesem, swimming gives everyone a chance to cool off. Some camps have a pool, some have a lake, and some even have both! There are options available for youth of all swimming abilities (including staying in the shallow end with life vests). There are also always campers (of all ages) who choose to not swim and participate in other activities to the side with their peers and counselors. Safety around water (and everything we do) is always the most important priority! We always have at least two certified lifeguards for every water activity.
Campers get to choose where they want to go for their free rotation. This gives everyone a chance to spend a little extra time in a favorite program area, or try something new that their cabin may not have done that day!
The true power of Kesem comes from empowering passionate college student volunteers to become leaders in their own local communities. We are proud to continually invest in training, support, and leadership development opportunities for our student leaders, as they prepare to provide life-changing experiences for our families nationwide.
Every time I go to wake them up
and every time I get a high-five from a little seven-year-old,
I just want to be the person they think I am.
I want to be that positive light –
in the rest of my life and not just at Camp Kesem.
I want to take the Camp Kesem spirit with me wherever I go.
– Kesem Student Leader
because it’s a group of people who make each other stronger.
They all know what it feels like
when cancer has touched their heart
and they know that even though cancer makes you weak –
if you have people surrounding you who love and care about you –
it can make you stronger.
– Kesem Camper
At home, everyone is trying to be strong for each other so things go unsaid.
Camp Kesem offers children a place
where they can open up about the feelings, cry together, support each other,
and most importantly they have fun together.
They learn that they are not alone.
I’m so grateful I was told about Camp Kesem.
– Kesem Parent