FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
NOTE: If you do not find the answer to your question on this page, please contact us here.
Who can attend?
Camp Kesem serves children ages 6-18 who have lost a parent to cancer, have a parent undergoing cancer treatment, or whose parent is a cancer survivor - an estimated population of over 5 million children in the United States.
When the term parent is used at Kesem, it includes any parent or guardian who is raising a child. This includes biological, adoptive, and foster parents. It can also include grandparents and other relatives in clear parenting roles (typically those who have primary or legal responsibility for children).
Can children attend camp if their parent had an illness or disease that is not cancer? What about if their sibling or other relative has cancer?
With over 5 million children impacted by a parent's cancer, Camp Kesem is not able to support the broader circle of children whose parents have had other illnesses or children who are affected by a non-parent or guardian’s cancer. For children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver (due to non-cancer illnesses) visit our Parent Resources page for additional organizations that can offer support. If you have questions and want to determine if your child is eligible for our program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is Camp Kesem a camp for children who have cancer?
No, Camp Kesem is a camp for children who have been affected by a parent’s cancer. For a list of camps for children and siblings of children with cancer, visit this resource.
Can children attend camp if their parent had an illness or disease that is not cancer?
With over 5 million children touched by a parent's cancer, Camp Kesem is not able to support the broader circle of children whose parent's have had other illnesses. For children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver (due to non-cancer illnesses) visit Camp Erin.
How long are the camps?
The camps are typically one week in length.
How much does camp cost?
Our summer camps (as well as all other year-round programs offered by Kesem) are completely free of charge.
Where do the camps take place?
Camps are not held on the college campus of a Camp Kesem chapter. Each Camp Kesem college chapter chooses where they wish to hold their camp program, renting an off-site camp facility for the week of camp. Campsites that we rent are ACA accredited, and are often YMCA, Girl Scout, or other professional camping venues. Please visit each camp’s website for details on their specific site.
Is this a day camp or a sleepaway camp?
Camp Kesem is a sleepaway camp.
Who runs the camps?
Our camps are staffed by highly trained college student leaders. These students are carefully screened through a competitive interview process, and undergo extensive training prior to camp. In addition, our student leaders work year-round to raise funds, conduct outreach in their communities, and plan the programming necessary to make camp a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Each camp is also staffed with nursing and mental health professionals.
Can children return to Camp Kesem more than once?
Yes! Kesem campers are part of our family for life. Our campers love the bonds they form with friends who return year after year.
Does Camp Kesem provide therapy?
No. Our student leaders provide a warm and loving environment where children are free to share their feelings with one another. Our model focuses on providing a strong peer-based support network where children can find strength, hope, compassion and fun.
Will someone be at camp to issue my child’s medication?
Yes, a Camp Nurse will be on site at all times to issue medication, and care for any injuries or sickness.
Where do I find a local camp?
Visit the “Find a Camp” page on our website.
How do I apply?
Applications open in January of each year, and are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. All applications are submitted online at www.campkesem.org .
Is Camp Kesem a faith-based camp?
No, Camp Kesem is a secular camp and is open to student volunteers and campers of all backgrounds.
Can children with disabilities attend camp?
Children with special circumstances are considered on a case-by-case basis. Camp Kesem makes reasonable accommodations for campers with disabilities and medical conditions. If such accommodations are not available, or Camp Kesem cannot ensure the child’s or other campers’ safety, then Camp Kesem is unable to accept the camper.
What do campers do at Camp Kesem?
Please visit the “A Day at Camp” section of our website to see a sample schedule for a day at Camp Kesem.
What makes Camp Kesem different from other camps?
We realize that children of cancer patients have additional needs- and we address them by giving them extra attention and support. Camp Kesem has a 3:1 camper to counselor ratio to ensure that campers receive extra attention. These counselors ensure that camp is a safe, supportive, high-energy, and fun place for every camper. Also, our counselors facilitate “cabin chats” each night.
Are children required to talk about their parent's cancer?
Absolutely not. Your child will quickly become part of a loving, supportive community of other children - all of whom understand each other and respect each other. For most of our campers, being a part of this community - with other kids who are just like them - is empowering, comforting, encouraging and inspirational. Children are given optional opportunities to share or not share anything that is on their mind in nightly "Cabin Chats" which are held with their own cabin (and facilitated by our trained student leaders). They are also invited to participate with all campers in an Empowerment Ceremony - intended to honor all camper parents and their individual family's journey.
Besides the college student counselors, are there other adults at camp?
The Camp Advisor, Camp Nurse, and Camp Mental Health Professional, and much of the program staff are college-graduates over 21 years old. Additionally, all of the camp counselors are older than 18 years old and undergo a thorough application and screening process to become counselors. Camp Advisors are college graduates who are specially trained and selected by Camp Kesem’s National staff. To be selected to be a Camp Advisor, one must have significant Camp Kesem experience and have excelled while a leader of a Camp Kesem program. Also, most campsites that Camp Kesem operates at have professional camp staff to support the Camp Kesem leadership team.
How do I become a Camp Kesem counselor?
Our counselors are students at universities with a Camp Kesem chapter. Our students work hard all year long planning and fundraising to make a week of magic happen. Being a counselor is a well-deserved reward for a year’s worth of hard work. Do you attend a university with a Camp Kesem chapter? Click here to see our list of chapters.
How do I start a Camp Kesem chapter at my university?
If you are interested in starting a Camp Kesem at your university, please complete the form on our "Start a Camp" page.
I want to volunteer, can I attend camp?
While we love our volunteers, camp is only for campers, counselors and professional staff. If you would like to get involved in other ways, visit our "Get Involved" page.
What impact does the camp have on the children served?
Based on post-camp surveys parents report a marked increase in their child’s confidence, network of support, self-esteem and coping tools. Please visit the "About Kesem" page of our website for more information.