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2012 Camp Kesem National Summit, According to Shammy

This past weekend, our coordinator team traveled north to Michigan in order to attend the 2012 CK Summit: a national conference that included coordinators from every single Camp Kesem campus in the country.  For this week’s blog post I have a special treat, one of CKIU’s student support coordinators was willing to write about his time at the CK Summit.  Here is what Shammy had to say about his experience:

Here at Camp Kesem Indiana University, we have all become one big family; the counselors, campers, and their families. All of us have a special place in our hearts for one another. But what about the rest of the Camp Kesem family? It can be easy to forget there are over forty other campuses across the nation that provides the same support CKIU does.

This last weekend—November 2-4—we had our Camp Kesem National Summit in which all the campuses meet at one location for a series of info sessions so we can swap ideas with one another. The info sessions may not be the most fun meetings to sit through, especially when you had woken up at 7 that morning; however, they are quite helpful and informative especially when coming from our CK superiors. We always talk about all our CKIU kids and how they are the most amazing kids in the world, which of course they are=], but there are thousands of others out there affected by cancer.

We got the pleasure to meet a handful of campers from Camp Kesem Michigan and Michigan State. As the families and campers told their stories there ceased to be a dry eye in the house. The maturity level of these kids is nothing short of amazing. Their tearful heartfelt stories are the reason I get up in the morning. They are the reason I don’t sweat the small things anymore. They are the reason I have hope in my family as several of them battle this disease. When someone half my age can stand on a stage and tell their story with bravery and strength in their voice, it gives me the inspiration to know my family is going fight cancer with everything we have as well.

Another amazing part of nationals is with all these campuses being in one area for an entire weekend it is impossible not to make new friends. I spent most of the end of the day Saturday surrounded with my new friends from Camp Kesem Notre Dame as we watched a game cast version of the Notre Dame football game on a computer. As Notre Dame pulled off an improbable comeback I, along with my new CKND friends went into a frenzy throughout the cafeteria. People I had met about a half an hour ago, I was now running around jumping and screaming with them. We went from complete strangers to new best buddies in the matter of minutes. As the night continued on, a group of us from several different campuses played camp games until just after 2 A.M.; if you recall, I had mentioned we had woken up at 7 A.M. that morning. I can hardly wake up at 9 A.M. for my class during the week, and when I do get up I struggle to stay awake the entire day until I can come home and collapse into my bed for an afternoon nap.

Until I found Camp Kesem there was no up and at em at 7 in the morning and have an amount of energy I did not know existed. Also having to keep up that energy for an entire day seems inconceivable, but that is exactly what Kesem does to you. The magic of camp gives you energy you didn’t know you had. It allows you to channel that energy to keep you going the whole day. Like I said before, these campers and camp in general gives me the best reason I need to get up every day. The magic of camp flows through the blood of everyone involved. It is just as much a part of us as the beating of our hearts, hearts that are filled with the love and hope Camp Kesem gives us. Events like the National Summit remind me of how important Camp Kesem truly is, and how I could not imagine my life without it.

Michael “Shammy” Dempsey

Student Support Coordinator CKIU