Camp Kesem is a community of college campuses, on which student leaders develop and operate free week-long summer camps for children in families coping with cancer. Camp Kesem is currently on 54 campuses around the United States.
Position Statement: Camp Kesem is a college student-run summer camp for kids whose parents have (or have had) cancer. Camp Kesem transforms kids into campers who return home with an enhanced sense of confidence and a new set of powerfully bound friendships forged in a cancer-aware yet fun-focused environment.
Kesem (n.): magic; the ability to change a life; an agent of growth; the unique power that transforms kids into Camp Kesem Campers
The first Camp Kesem project was founded at Stanford University in 2001 as a project of Hillel at Stanford, a nonprofit serving Jewish students at the University. The project was developed by founder, Iris Rave, and a group of student leaders who sought to create a magical summer camp experience for children in need.
After assessing the needs of the community, the students found that children who have, or have had, a parent with cancer comprised an under-served population who could benefit from a summer camp experience with peers who faced similar challenges.
The Camp Kesem project at Stanford hosted its first summer session in June 2001 free of charge to 37 campers. Since then, the project has continued and has grown each year to engage more student volunteers and serve more children across the country.
Based on the success of Camp Kesem at Stanford, Iris Rave founded Camp Kesem National in August 2002 to share the Camp Kesem project model with college campuses across the nation.
|2003||Duke University/University of North Carolina
University of Notre Dame
|2004||University of California, San Diego|
University of California, Davis
|2006||University of Virginia|
University of Illinois
University of California, Berkeley
Arizona State University
St. Rose College
|2008||Texas A&M University
University of Florida
University of Miami
George Washington University
|2009||University of Richmond
|2010||University of Wisconsin
St. Louis University
Florida State University
|2011||The Ohio State University|
|2012||Johns Hopkins University
Columbia University and University of Missouri-Columbia
University of Minnesota-Minneapolis
Children who have or had a parent with cancer are neither physically ill nor visibly distinct from other children. As a result, their situation at home is often unknown to peers and teachers and their emotional needs often go unnoticed.
In addition, it is challenging for these children to find peers with whom they can relate, and they are often left feeling completely alone when coping with the fear, anger, guilt, and sadness associated with having a parent who has cancer or has died from cancer.
How Camp Kesem fulfills this need
Camp Kesem camp programs give these children a place to be where they no longer feel alone---every child at Camp Kesem can understand what their fellow campers are going through. Many children at Camp Kesem programs develop friendships with peers to whom they can truly relate for the first time in their lives.
At Camp Kesem, children are empowered with the tools to express their emotions through camp activities, such as arts and crafts, drama, and cabin chat. The tools, and the friendships gained provide support for these children well beyond the week of camp.
Other than the Camp Kesem camp programs, there are very few camp programs in the United States that serve this population. There are thousands of children in need of the support a Camp Kesem program provides, and Camp Kesem National is committed to fulfilling this need—one camp, one child, at a time.
Vision, Mission, and Values
Vision: To create a community where fun has the power to transform lives.
Mission: Camp Kesem's mission is twofold:
- To provide kids whose parents have or have had cancer with a summer camp experience that gives them a chance to be kids
- To allow college students to channel their passion for making a difference, while developing critical leadership skills for long-term social impact
- Camp Kesem
- Camp Kesem at FSU
- Camp Kesem at UF
- Camp Kesem at BYU
- Camp Kesem at Emory
- Camp Kesem at North Carolina
- Camp Kesem at Northwestern
- Camp Kesem at UVA
- Camp Kesem at Indiana University
- Camp Kesem at Chicago
- Camp Kesem at UC-Davis
- Camp Kesem at UC-Los Angeles
- Camp Kesem at UC-San Diego
- Camp Kesem at Notre Dame
- Camp Kesem at Stanford
- Camp Kesem at University of Illinois
- Camp Kesem at UC Berkeley
- Camp Kesem at Arizona State University
- Camp Kesem at UT Austin
- Camp Kesem at Texas A&M University
- Camp Kesem at University of Wisconsin
- Camp Kesem at George Washington University