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What is Camp Kesem?
Camp Kesem is a free, week-long summer camp for children of cancer patients. Camp is open to children ages 6-13 and teens ages 14-16. Each camper has a parent who currently has or has had cancer. At Camp Kesem Augustana, our campers come from all over Iowa and Illinois.

How much does camp cost?

Camp Kesem is free to all campers. Along with the emotional and physical burdens that cancer can place on families, there is also a major financial strain. Thanks to the generous donations from community members, business, and other organizations camp is free to all campers.

When and where does camp take place?

The Y Camp of Des Moines located in Boone County, Iowa. Yes! We do bus the kids to camp from Augustana!

Our camp dates are from July 19-25.

How does a typical day at camp operate?
Each day has a different theme such as pirate day, Harry Potter day, or international day (Daily themes vary year to year). There are two or three camp-wide activities relating to the theme each day. The morning starts with cabin rotations between activities such as sports, arts and crafts, dance/drama, and outdoor adventures. In the afternoon there is a camp-wide activity. The evening ends with a cabin chat.

What is a cabin chat?

Cabin chat is an opportunity for campers to bond and express their feelings. It is a safe and open conversation where kids can feel comfortable talking about highs and lows of the day, dreams, fears, or the effects of cancer if they choose. Cabin Chat is done with gender specific cabin-mates and is the concluding 30 min of the day.

How is Camp Kesem different than other summer camps?
Camp Kesem is able to focuses on the specific needs of children of families coping with cancer. We have a counselor-camper ratio of 1:3, which is excellent compared to other summer camps. Our staff is specifically trained to understand the needs of our campers. At Camp Kesem Augustana we create a safe, supportive and FUN environment, in which campers support each other and emerge from the week with increased self-esteem and with the understanding that they are not alone.

How is the staff trained?

With the help of community members, our staff undergoes intensive training prior to Camp Kesem Augustana that focuses on facilitating positive group interactions and creating a memorable experience for campers.

Are there adults at Camp Kesem?
The Camp Director, Camp Nurse, and Camp Therapist are college-graduates over 21 years old. Additionally, all of the camp counselors are at least 18 years old and undergo a thorough application and screening process to become counselors.

How many campers will be at Camp this year?
This year, Camp Kesem Augustana will be accepting up to 115 campers, who will be supported by 50 counselors and staff members.

My child has special needs; can he/she still go to camp?
Of course! We anticipate that many of our campers will have special emotional, social, and dietary needs. In fact, Camp Kesem’s excellent camper-counselor ratio means your special needs child will be given superior care.

Who runs Camp Kesem?

One of the missions of Camp Kesem is to allow college-aged volunteers to make a difference in the lives of others. Under the direction of national advisors and a community advisory board, students work year round to raise funds, organize camp activities, recruit campers and train volunteer counselors.

What does “Kesem” mean?

Kesem is the Hebrew word for “magic”. Magic is exactly what we hope to be able to provide our campers and their families. Does Camp Kesem have any religious affiliation? Camp Kesem has no religious affiliation at all. Camp Kesem is open to all campers regardless of religion, race, or nationality.

What if my child gets homesick?
Homesickness is dealt with regularly at Camp Kesem. As children become involved in the activities and make new friends, homesickness usually fades. We also ask parents to write a letter to their child in advance which is given to the camper midway through camp.

Is Camp Kesem a Therapy camp?
Camp Kesem is not designed for emotional therapy. The purpose of Camp Kesem is to give campers the opportunity to be kids again.