WHO WE ARE
What is Camp Kesem?
Camp Kesem is a network of college student run summer camps and social circles for kids with a parent who has (or has had) cancer. The one-week sleep away camps are a chance for kids ages 6-16 to have a fun- and activity-filled week and just be kids. Everything we do at Camp Kesem focuses on our goal of giving campers the most fun week possible, while providing the extra support and attention that they need. Learn more about our program by clicking here.
Is there more than one Camp Kesem?
In 2014, Camp Kesem will have 53 chapters around the United States. Each chapter is run by college students at a university with a Camp Kesem chapter.
What does Kesem mean?
Kesem means “magic” in Hebrew. The founders of Camp Kesem chose Kesem because their goal was to bring magic to families coping with cancer. More recently, we’ve developed a more detailed definition of what Kesem means to us.
Kesem (n.): magic; the ability to change a life; an agent of growth; the unique power that transforms kids into Camp Kesem Campers
Is Camp Kesem a religious camp?
No, Camp Kesem is a secular camp and is open to student volunteers and campers of all backgrounds.
WHO CAN ATTEND CAMP KESEM
Who can attend Camp Kesem?
Any child, age 6-16, whose parent is currently battling cancer, in remission from cancer, or has passed away from cancer.
Can siblings and grandchildren of cancer patients attend Camp Kesem?
There are over 3 million children affected by a parent’s cancer. Camp Kesem must stay true to its mission to support those 3 million children affected solely by a parent’s cancer. For a list of camps for children affected by a sibling cancer, please visit this resource.
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?
Camp Kesem must stay true to its mission to support the over 3 million children affected by a parent’s cancer. For children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver, visit Camp Erin.
What is the age range of campers?
Campers are ages 6-16. Some chapters have a Counselor-in-Training program for those children ages 17-18.
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.
MORE ABOUT CAMP KESEM
How long are the camps? Is it an overnight camp?
Our camps range from 4-7 days depending on the chapter. We are an overnight camp program.
Can special accommodations be made for children that do not want to spend the night at camp?
No, Camp Kesem is only available as an overnight program.
Do families pay to send their children to Camp Kesem?
No. Due to the financial burden placed on families coping with cancer, Camp Kesem camp programs are offered entirely free of charge. Families are invited to donate to support Camp Kesem. Click here to make a donation online now!
How is Camp Kesem funded?
Camp Kesem is totally free to families. Camp Kesem staff and student volunteers fundraise all year long to put on a free week of summer camp.
Is there a place to purchase Camp Kesem gear?
Yes, we have t-shirts, bags, hats, and more available on our website.
WHAT CAMP IS LIKE
Does Camp Kesem provide therapy for campers? What does the Camp Mental Health Professional do?
No, Camp Kesem does not provide therapy for campers. There is a Camp Mental Health Professional on staff at every camp to coach counselors and help counselors work with campers in especially challenging situations or emergencies. The Camp Mental Health Professional is involved in counselor training, and is mainly at camp to serve as an advisor to counselors. Camp Mental Health Professionals do NOT practice one-on-one therapy with campers.
Can campers bring a cell phone to camp?
Campers cannot bring a cell phone to camp. We do not want campers using a phone at camp to call friends and/or family. We find that calling home can not only be distracting but can actually cause homesickness.
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.
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.
What is a “Cabin Chat”?
“Cabin Chats” give everyone in the cabin the chance to speak in a comfortable atmosphere about anything on their mind- from thoughts on their day at camp to their experiences at home- their favorite color to their favorite vacation. Everyone is encouraged to participate.
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 TO GET INVOLVED
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?
Visit our webpage for more details on starting a chapter, see our Get Involved 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 webpage.
Where do the camps take place?
Each Camp Kesem college chapter chooses where they wish to hold their camp program. Campuses rent 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.
What impact does the camp have on the children served?
Based on post-camp surveys parents report a marked incrase in their child’s confidence, network of support, self-esteem and coping tools. Please see our Rave Reviews page to read direct quotes from our campers, parents and student leaders.