History of Kesem
Since 2000, Camp Kesem – a college-student-run summer camp for kids whose parents have (or have had) cancer – has provided plenty of laughs and lots of emotional but non-therapeutic support.
This week of sleep-away fun and friendships forged in a safe, compassionate and cancer-aware environment had its beginnings in 2000, when four Stanford University student leaders chose to change the lives of children in their northern California community.
Bringing Magic to Families Coping With Cancer
Working with Hillel at Stanford, staff member Iris Rave helped four student leaders set up Camp Kesem. The group chose the word Kesem, which means “magic” in Hebrew, because its goal was to bring “magic” to families coping with cancer. Since its inception, Camp Kesem has been open to student leaders and campers of any religion, race or ethnicity. Thanks to the hard work of many student leaders, Camp Kesem at Stanford hosted 37 campers at its first one-week summer camp in 2001.
Word quickly spread and the Stanford student leaders encouraged their friends at colleges across the country to replicate Camp Kesem in their communities. Based on the success of the Camp Kesem project at Stanford, Iris Rave also founded Camp Kesem National in August 2002 to help college students from coast to coast to start similar programs.
An Inspiring and Empowering Experience
Each year since its founding, Camp Kesem has improved upon its model, finding new tools for inspiring and empowering students so they can become better leaders who run even richer and more fruitful Camp Kesem programs.
In both 2011 and 2013, Camp Kesem was chosen by the LIVESTRONG Foundation as one of four Community Impact Projects. These significant grants have allowed Camp Kesem to open another 24 chapters in total, with 12 new chapters hosting inaugural weeks of camp in the summer of 2014.
In 2013, Camp Kesem launched an exciting new program with some friends in the NFL called Scoring for Good. Currently teamed up with NFL players Aldon Smith, Tyler Polumbus, and EJ Manual, this program raises awareness of and funds for Camp Kesem. It’s simple: for every sack participating defensive players make during the football season, and for every touchdown scored by participating offensive players, that player will pledge to send a child to Camp Kesem.
In 2013, the Holt Brothers Foundation, founded by NFL brothers Torry and Terrence Holt to improve the quality of life for children and families dealing with cancer, announced the formation of the Holt Brothers Butterfly Grant to fund a second week of summer camp for children at Camp Kesem North Carolina. The Butterfly Grant was named by the Holt’s because it represents the perfect transition from Camp Kesem’s mascot a caterpillar, which takes two weeks to transform into a butterfly. In addition to providing an extra week of camp for North Carolina children in 2013, the grant will assist other chapters across the country with implementing a second week of programs beginning in 2014.
Camp Kesem has grown steadily, serving more children affected by a parent’s cancer and expanding to more communities every year.
|Stanford University||2001||Palo Alto, CA||University of Wisconsin||2010||Madison, WI|
|Duke & University of North Carolina||2003||Durham, NC||University of Michigan||2011||Ann Arbor, MI|
|University of Notre Dame||2003||South Bend, IN||University of Oregon||2012||Eugene, OR|
|UCSD||2004||San Diego, CA||University of Pennsylvania||2012||Philadelphia, PA|
|Indiana University||2005||Bloomington, IN||Vanderbilt University||2012||Nashville, TN|
|UCLA||2005||Los Angeles, CA||Johns Hopkins University||2012||Baltimore, MD|
|Northwestern University||2005||Evanston, IL||Southern Utah University||2012||Cedar City, UT|
|UC Davis||2005||Davis, CA||University of Texas – Austin||2012||Austin, TX|
|University of Virginia||2006||Charlottesville, VA||Augustana College||2012||Rock Island, IL|
|University of Illinois||2007||Champaign, IL||Florida State University||2012||Tallahassee, FL|
|MIT||2007||Boston, MA||University of Georgia||2012||Athens, GA|
|Arizona State University||2007||Phoenix, AZ||University of Washington||2012||Seattle, WA|
|UC Berkeley||2007||Berkeley, CA||University of Minnesota||2012||Minneapolis, MN|
|Michigan State University||2007||East Lansing, MI||Columbia University||2012||New York, NY|
|Texas A&M University||2008||College Station, TX||University of Missouri||2012||Columbia, MO|
|Brigham Young University||2008||Provo, UT||Ohio State University||2012||Columbus, OH|
|University of Florida||2008||Gainesville, FL||Syracuse University||2013||Syracuse, NY|
|George Washington University||2008||Washington, D.C.||University of Nebraska||2013||Lincoln, NE|
|Camp Kesem Miami||2008||Miami, FL||University of Oklahoma||2013||Norman, OK|
|Emory University||2009||Atlanta, GA||University of Southern California||2013||Los Angeles, CA|
|University of Richmond||2009||Richmond, VA|