Local Leadership

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We Do it For Them

Since 2008, students from Brigham Young University have been dedicating thousands of hours annually to bring magic to the lives of families coping with cancer. Our leaders oversee all aspects of the organization and contribute an invaluable amount of work to assuring a successful experience for all participants. We invite you to learn the stories of our 2014 leadership team below.

Directors:

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Griff (Laura Fafard)

Camp Kesem Experience:  Community Outreach coordinator (2012). Director (2013)   

Brief Bio:  I’m a senior studying Public Health with an emphasis in Health Promotion and a minor in Gerontology. I grew up in Joplin, Missouri with my 2 sisters and 1 brother and my lovely parents. I love to paint, road bike, play tennis, play sudoku, and cook difficult dishes.

How I caught the magic:  My husband passed away from cancer just a few weeks after we were married. He was a counselor and coordinator for Camp Kesem  for several years before he was diagnosed and continued to be involved throughout his life. I caught the magic through him and his passion for those kids. My first year at camp I fell in love with the kids and their love for each other, they keep me going throughout the year as I look at their pictures and attend their events.

Favorite camp song:  Oh Lay Lay

Favorite camp game/activity:  Swimming!!!

 

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Curious George (Chris Williams)

Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2012). Volunteer Management coordinator (2013).

Brief Bio:  I’m a senior studying Business Management with an emphasis in Organizational Behavior/Human Resources and a minor in Nonprofit Management, hailing from University Place, WA. I hope to make a difference someday helping nonprofit organizations run more effectively. I am a HUGE sports fan, and also enjoy singing, cooking, trivia, and crossword puzzles.

How I caught the magic:  My mom passed away from brain cancer when I was 21. There were (and still are) times when I felt like a helpless child. I met these kids my first year at camp and they taught me strength, love, and hope. I was hooked from day one and it is now my personal mission to help Camp Kesem continue to grow and influence as many families affected by cancer as possible.

Favorite camp song:  Little Red Wagon

Favorite camp game/activity:  Ropes Course

 

Community Outreach Coordinators:

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Glinda (Ellen Williams)

Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2012). Development coordinator (2013).

Brief Bio:  I am a Theater Education major at Brigham Young University. I want to be a high school drama teacher. I love performing and reading. Oh! and Camp Kesem.

How I caught the magic:  I caught the magic because these kids are the most amazing and inspiring people I have and ever will meet and I knew I had to do everything I could to continue to help them. After my first week of camp I knew that I couldn’t just stand by, I had to do EVERYTHING I could to make camp happen every year.

Favorite camp song:  Little Green Frog

Favorite camp game/activity:  I love the activity where we sit in a circle facing outward and a small group goes into the circle to tap people on the shoulder based on the statement give, i.e. tap someone who you want to be friends with forever, tap someone who made you happy today, etc. It’s so happy!

 

Development Coordinators:

BYU Ginger Snap

Gingersnap (Brittani Elkington)

Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2013)

Brief Bio:  I’m Gingersnap. I love Disney movies more than the average 5-year old and I’m drawn to anything that has a redhead in it or is the color orange like orange soda or orange flowers. I love going to baseball games and I’m a big San Francisco Giants fan! I love seeing the sights of California and am so blessed to come from a small lakeside town up in Northern California. My all-time, hands-down, favorite sight in the world though is people smiling. My family is my everything and I think that I would die if I couldn’t wear flip flops.

How I caught the magic:  Serendipity! I found Camp Kesem at a service fair at BYU. I caught the magic in that moment and haven’t come down from my Kesem high yet. It didn’t really hit me until I was at camp and I heard the kids saying what they would do if they found a buried treasure. Their answers were the typical kid answers (a car, a lot of food, all the toys in the world) but before any of those answers came it was always “I’d give money to cancer research” or “I’d buy my parents’ a house.” These were all things I never thought of when I was a kid just because I didn’t have to. I Kesem to let them be kids and put these worries behind them.

Favorite camp song:  Little Red Wagon

Favorite camp game/activity:  Anything that the kids love to do! Seeing them smile and laugh reminds me why I do this.

 

Operations Coordinators:

BYU Bandaid

Bandaid (Alexa Hermesman)

Camp Kesem Experience:  Nurse’s Assistant (2013)

Brief Bio:  I am a student double majoring in Social Work and Emergency Services Administration with an emphasis in Emergency Care. I am from a small town in Colorado named Durango. I added my second major in my senior year of college of social work because I found that that was the area that I fit into best. I love kids and I want to work with teens in a clinical setting. I am the kind of person who likes to be involved in everything so my schedule is booked from sun up to sun down and I wouldn’t change that for the world. I love life and each morning I wake up ready for a new day.

How I caught the magic:  I was the nurse’s assistant for camp last year and it was such a fun and rewarding experience. The first time I heard about Camp Kesem, Curious George announced that applications for Cabin Counselors were open and they were looking for people to fill the positions. The idea sounded fun but at the time (and still today) I was working two jobs and trying to maintain my sanity with school, so adding another thing to my agenda seemed to be far too difficult. I missed the application date and subsequently missed my opportunity to join the Camp Kesem team…or so I thought. Several months later while driving back from a conference, Curious George (CG) and I started talking about Camp Kesem again and I expressed my regrets for not applying to be a counselor. With a little excitement in his voice CG told me that they were in need of a nurse’s assistant and that if I wanted, the position was mine. Without hesitation I accepted happily and started to get extremely excited for my first Kesem experience. As camp approached I had a pit in my stomach, I had no idea what to expect nor did I think I could really be what I  thought these kids needed. I was filled with excitement and nervousness simultaneously. The first day of camp was exciting, all of the kids arrived with smiles that went on for miles and a light about them that could blind you. Because I was the nurse’s assistant, Stitches (the nurse) and I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to all of the parents as they checked their kiddos into camp. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of gratitude that these families had. They have been able to see the “magic” that Camp Kesem brings and they have seen the beautiful power it has to change lives. This brought me hope and the confidence I needed to move into the week knowing that no matter what happens, this was for the kids and that was my goal; to create as many opportunities for magic and joy as I possibly could.

Favorite camp song:  I loved “Little Red Wagon”, it was so much fun to see how excited and into the song everyone gets.

Favorite camp game/activity:  Pirate Baseball; nothing beats slip-n-slides for hours to cool off in the hot summer heat.

 

BYU Iron Man

Iron Man (James Balden)

Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2013)

Brief Bio:  I’m studying history with a minor in visual arts. I would like to work in museums either doing research or designing exhibits. One of my life goals is to continue staying involved in great causes. My interests include watching movies, making short films, cooking, swimming, and racquetball.

How I caught the magic:  I found out about Camp Kesem from a friend in 2012. When I first got involved everyone else told me how awesome camp was. Honestly I was kind of skeptical at first. They were right though; I didn’t realize how much camp would change my life. I caught the magic that first week of camp and can’t wait to make next year just as amazing.

Favorite camp song:  Little Red Wagon

Favorite camp game/activity:  Dead Fish

 

PR/Marketing Coordinators:

BYU ElmoElmo (Matthew Cowley)

Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2012), Operations coordinator (2013)

Brief Bio:  I am a junior studying Finance…but that doesn’t mean I like wearing suits or enjoy being overly serious. Sometimes I like to do magic and make food disappear. 13 is my favorite number along with green. One time I slurped jello too fast and started choking. I’ve never eaten jello since. One of my favorite activities is listening to the Mission Impossible theme song while riding my bike and pretending I’m on a secret mission. I love serving others and the satisfaction that comes from doing so. Camp Kesem is a great example!

How I caught the magic:  I caught the magic out of the blue when my cousin came home with a flyer about Camp Kesem. We decided to do it since we didn’t know anything about it and we’ve been on board ever since. Sometimes it pays off to take a step into the great unknown.

Favorite camp song:  ”D-O-W-N, that’s the way you get down, WHOO!”

Favorite camp game/activity:  Dance Pah-tay!

 

BYU Otto

Otto (Josh Guerrero)

Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2013)

Brief Bio:  I am an English Major with a minor in Writing and Rhetoric at Brigham Young University. I hope to become a business-entertainment attorney somewhere in the future. I love to surf, play the guitar, and work with the Kesem kids of course!

How I caught the magic:  I didn’t actually “catch the magic” until I met these kids as they walked across the bridge of magic. The magic that they brought with them was and is contagious. The strength they exhibit in the face of adversity is stuff made of legends. I have never previously met a group of kids that have such a positive outlook on life despite the circumstances that have befallen their homes and know that their optimism needs to be spread across the world.

Favorite camp song:  Ride That Pony. Also doubles as an awesome yet exhausting game.

Favorite camp game/activity:  When everyone stands in a circle and on the count of three stares at someone and screams. Need I explain why this is my favorite?

 

Volunteer Coordinators:

BYU Baloo

Baloo (Sean Allsop)

Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2013)

Brief Bio:  Yo  Yo! I’m Baloo! I am a BYU student studying Physiology and Developmental Biology. I hope to go to medical school and become a Pediatrician. The things that I love in life are boating, baseball, snow, friends, family, and Camp Kesem!

How I caught the magic:  I learned about Camp Kesem through a friend. She was a counselor at camp and told me about it in the fall. I found out more, got involved, and was super blessed to be able to be a counselor this past summer (2013) and spend one of the best weeks of my life with some of the very best people I know! My mother was diagnosed with melanoma (a deadly skin cancer) when I was in 5th grade and, after a long battle, passed away in January 2011. She’s one of my heroes. I decided to participate in Camp Kesem to help kids who are going through similar things that I had go through when I was growing up. They really are amazing and I can’t wait to help more people get involved this year!

Favorite camp song:  “I went down to the river”

Favorite camp game/activity:  WATER BALLOON FIGHT!!!!!