Back in January I wrote a post about Camp Kesem. The camp was held a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to give an update on how awesome it was!
To refresh your memory a little bit, Camp Kesem is a camp designed for children who’s had a parent with cancer. This was a free camp offered to children ages 6-16. Even though many of the campers who attended were from the Fresno/Clovis area, there were a few from the Bay Area.
This year was the first year of camp, and they had 26 campers. On the first day of camp, each camper came up with their own camp names, and from then on they would be referred to as that. The campers loved it! Camp Kesem provided cabin counselors, program counselors, and had an administration team working behind the scenes. There was also a mental health professional who was available in case any of the counselors or campers needed to talk.
The first few days of camp were just like any other camp. The campers built friendships, formed relationships and became comfortable with one another. They were learning that Camp Kesem was a safe place. They all knew why each other was there and the connections that they had, but they didn’t have to say the words out loud. (Although they could if they wanted to.) They were just campers having fun.
On the 4th night of camp, they had an Empowerment Ceremony. This was the time for the campers to open up and share if they wanted to. This was the night when everyone understood the impact Camp Kesem had, and how being there effected them. It was almost like they had become family. The campers made such wonderful connections with one another that the organizers are planning reunions for the fall and spring. What a way to continue to support these children and families!
Even though camp just recently ended, the organizers are already preparing for next year. The Fresno State Chapter for Camp Kesem serves the area from Bakersfield to Merced. They’re hoping to send at least 45 campers to camp next year. Remember, this is FREE to the campers. So, follow them on Facebook, and if you’re able to help when fundraising time comes around, please do so. What an amazing support system to have for the children in the Valley. Let’s get the word out there, and get more kids to camp!!
I want to leave you with some quotes from the campers (referred to by their camp names):
What’s been your favorite part of camp?
- ‘Triple T’: “The best part of this week is too many to name, but if I could name 3, I would choose arrowing, I would choose ziplining, and right now I just played a super awesome game of capture the flag.”
- ‘Excalibur’: “I think hanging around all my friends, and meeting new people.”
- ‘Savage’: “My favorite part is just sitting in the lounge and sharing with everyone else what you feel and they feel. That’s my favorite part.”
- ‘Barracuda’: “The best part of Camp Kesem was probably everything, I liked everything.”
What’s something you learned at Camp Kesem?
- ‘Hay-Hay’: “I learned to make a tie-dye shirt.”
- ‘Triple T’: “I learned to be a nicer person.”
- ‘Kitty’: “I learned that you’re not the only one. Lots of parents have had cancer.”
What is Camp Kesem to you?
- ‘Lightning’: “Camp Kesem is a place where people can let their feelings out and talk to people and really get to know kids and have fun and just not have a lot of stress on someone having cancer.”
- ‘Fawn’: “Camp Kesem is family to me.”
- ‘Bubbles’: “Camp Kesem to me is a family where everyone has been through something and everyone can relate and no one doesn’t fit.”