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A letter from a Camp Kesem Mental Health Professional

August 13, 2012

RE: Camp Kesem IU Experience

Dear Ms. Saccaro,

It is with complete candor that I am writing this letter to discuss my recent experience at Camp Kesem, IU. As the staff therapist, I had the humble experience of being a “senior” member of the team.

My background as a special educator, developmental therapist and family therapist has led me on many different career paths. I have had experiences working in some devastating situations, filled with trauma and pain. My exposure to the less pleasant things in life has been vast. It is my varied experience that gives me unique insight into the “magic” of Camp Kesem.

It was an amazing experience to see so many young people coming together to support such an honorable and necessary cause. I spent my first day following campers and counselors as they embarked on their new journey at CampCarson. The level of enthusiasm, compassion and caring exhibited by counselors was truly over whelming. I witnessed developmentally appropriate interactions, positive reinforcement and gentle redirection from counselors interacting with campers, ages6-16. It was not until the first evening debriefing meeting that I came to the realization that I was among college students and recent college graduates. I would love to be able to bottle that energy and share it with the world!

As the week progressed we had some wonderful interactions, tearful moments and challenging issues. As a participant and an observer, I was able to see magical moments between campers and counselors through numerous activities. Campers were respectfully encouraged to participate in those activities that might be frightening and celebrated with complete excitement when they accomplished them. Campers were also supported as leaders or experts if they were able to share their talents with the group. This environment so clearly allowed the shy to sing and dance as it also allowed those strong leaders an opportunity to observe, listen and rebuild.

We live in a world that so often focuses on what young people aren’t doing or can’t do. When the main story lines on so many news stations talk about the violence and disconnection of the younger generation it is the freshest breath of air to see young people who can lead with compassion and confidence!

Please be aware of the wonderful work these young people are committed to completion.  It is not often individuals get a chance to be among such greatness. I feel honored to have had one week with them.