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 2015 leadership team below.

Want to be a part of Camp Kesem 2015? Email byu.volunteer@campkesem.org

Directors:

Gingersnap (Brittani Elkington)

BYU Gingersnap

Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2013), Development Coordinator (2014)

About Me:  I’m a junior studying Public Health with an emphasis in Health Promotion and a minor in Nonprofit Management. 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 am so blessed to come from a small lakeside town up in Northern California. My all-time, hands-down, favorite sight in the world is people smiling. My family is my everything and I think that I would die if I couldn’t wear flip flops.

How Did You Catch the Magic?  Serendipity! I found Camp Kesem at a service fair at BYU. I caught the magic in that moment and haven’t come

Favorite Camp Activity:  Theme Days. These kids are so creative with their outfits!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.

Hobbes (Peter Moody)

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Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2013), Volunteer Coordinator (2014)

About Me:  I’m Hobbes. I’m a tiger and I love tuna fish and taking naps by the fire… Oh wait that’s the other Hobbes. Though naps are pretty fantastic. I’m studying Biochemistry at BYU and hope someday to be either a Cardiologist or a Pediatrician, or both! I get along with kids excellently, because I basically am one.

How Did You Catch the Magic?  How did you catch the Magic? I was recruiting volunteers for a different service organization and ended up chatting with the then volunteer director Curious George (Chris Williams). I went to an info meeting where they played a video of the kids talking about Kesem and I really felt for them. This got me to apply to camp, but I still didn’t see how great Kesem really is until I got there and loved it. Actually, it continues to amaze me. So I can’t possibly articulate all the wonder that Kesem is, so you just need to come see for yourself.

Favorite Camp Activity: Hey Burrito!

Community Outreach Coordinators:

Squeaky (Yvonne Allsop)

unnamed(1)Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2014)

About me: I’m Squeaky! I’m in my last year at BYU, studying health education, mathematics education and Spanish. Currently I’m doing my student teaching and I love it. I love working with kids, especially teenagers, and helping them learn how to improve life. One of my favorite activities is to be out behind the boat waterskiing and I love classic rock and authentic Mexican food.

How Did You Catch the Magic? I caught the magic through my brother Baloo. He was a counselor and then asked me to join. My mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was twelve and has since passed away. She was an amazing lady and I know she would love this organization. I Kesem for the kids because I know what they’re going through. I also Kesem for the parents because of all that they’re going through and how appreciative they are for camp and the support it provides for the kids. The hugs, smiles and laughs make everything about camp so wonderful.

Favorite Part of Camp: Skits and the dance party!!

Willow (Michelle Stevens)

WillowCamp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2014)

About me: Hey, I’m Willow and I love trees! I also like animals and other outdoorsy things. I am four feet tall, because I have dwarfim. In other words, I’m a Little Person! :) I’m currently a sophomore studying Computer Science at BYU.  I love getting to know people and hanging out with friends. My favorite movie is The Lion King. I also enjoy arts and crafts, dancing, and laughing!

How Did You Catch the Magic?  I was looking for ways to volunteer through Y-serve when I found Kesem.  I attended a recreational therapy camp for Dwarfism when I was 16 and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had! I wanted to help other kids have a chance to relax and be themselves. My mom passed away when I was seven from breast cancer, so I felt like I might be able to relate to these kids.  When I got to camp, the campers blew me away with their kindness and compassion. They inspired me. Camp Kesem changed my life and I am so grateful for it. These kids have to grow up too fast and it means a lot to them.

Favorite Part of Camp: Pool time, cabin chats, and the King Swing!!

Freckles (Julianne Francisco)

FrecklesCamp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2014)

About me: I was raised in Riverside, California. I currently attend BYU, where I am studying Business and Theatre Arts Studies. My favorite things to do are reading, cooking, meeting new people, and working on theatre productions.

How Did You Catch the Magic? I caught the Kesem magic when I was looking for worthwhile ways to serve and make a difference. Last year was my first year of camp, and I’m now hooked for life. The kids at Camp Kesem are amazing. They are so little, but they are dealing with gigantic hardships. Helping them to have an escape, even for just a week, is wonderful beyond words.

Favorite Part of Camp: My favorite part of camp is watching true friendships form among the campers. And singing (screaming) camp songs until I lose my voice.

Development Coordinators:

Chef (Brett Thompson)

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Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2014)

About Me: I love to read and ski!

How Did You Catch the Magic?  I caught the magic in August because camp was so unbelievably fun, amazing and uplifting! And now I can’t get rid of it!

Favorite Camp Activity: Yelling “YOU CAN’T RIDE IN MY LITTLE RED WAGON!” was definitely my favorite part of camp.

 

 

Tuna (Cristina Tenney)

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Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2014)

About Me: I come from a family of seven girls and am from Austin, Texas. I am a senior at Brigham Young University and am studying Human Development. I hope to be able to continue on as a Child Life Specialist and work in the hospitals with kids. I love photography and hearing people’s stories. Movies and popcorn are bound to happen every weekend and oreos. Oreos are a must.

How Did You Catch the Magic? Camp Kesem has been one of the best college experiences I have had the opportunity to be a part of. Catching the magic was inevitable. I like to say that the magic caught me. As soon as I started volunteering and I met the kids for the first time, I witnessed exactly what the magic was. When you hear several little kids calling names like Gingersnap, Elmo, Baloo, Griff, and Tuna, that’s when you can catch a little glimpse of that magic. The magic that is Camp Kesem. The magic that is the kids. The magic that is the counselors. The magic where you realize you’re in the right place.take part in. I never thought I could grow to love as much as I have during that one week of camp.

Favorite Camp Activity: My favorite part about camp is the happiness that is all encompassing. Whether you’re dancing with hundreds of glow sticks or watching the counselors tell their high’s and low’s, the happiness that you are able to witness cannot be measured. Camp Kesem is love. Camp Kesem is family.

Fish (Stefanie Morris)

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Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2014)

About Me: I’m a BYU senior studying sociocultural anthropology. I am planning on doing a masters in social work and focusing on community development so that eventually I can work with marginalized communities (like immigrants and impoverished groups). Other fun facts about me: 1) I’m from a lovely freezing place called Canada, 2) if I had to choose one movie to watch for the rest of my life I would choose How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version), and 3) I have a dream that one day I will hug a penguin.

How Did You Catch the Magic? I was volunteering at a booth across from the Camp Kesem booth on BYU campus. Gsnap invited me over and told me about camp. I signed up and volunteered at a few CK events. I guess I got lucky, because they let me be a counsellor! I REALLY caught the magic when I got to know my group of 13 year old girls at camp. They were always serving everyone around them and making sure people were included. They were serving ME and trying to make me feel at home. Those girls are part of my family now–they are my sisters and I do this for them, so that they can come to camp next year and see each other and feel brave.

Favorite Camp Activity: Cabin chats (when we sit down at the end of the night with all the girls and talk about things that make us laugh and cry and learn and grow together as a CK family).

Operations Coordinators:

Hulk (Tyler Glassford)

Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2014)

About Me: Yes, my name is Hulk, but no I do not have anger management problems. The truth is I have connection on the muscle level with the Hulk. That was a joke if you couldn’t tell by my picture to the left. I am a senior studying Physiology and Developmental Biology at BYU. My professional plans have something to do with the medical field, but I still haven’t decided the exact path I should take. Give me a break, there are so many choices!! In my free time I enjoy doing things outdoors or playing any kind of sport. I love basketball, football, baseball, and racquetball. But if you have something new to try or just want to play, just send me a message! I love my friends, and pizza is pretty good too. My family is awesome, I am the oldest of 8 and I love it.

How Did You Catch the Magic? I heard about Camp Kesem through one of my really great friends. He had gotten involved with camp, and told me how great it was. I love kids so I figured I would give it a shot. That decision became one of the best of my life. I fell in love with Camp Kesem, an

d more importantly the kids. I was amazed at how cute and grown up they were…I can literally say that they melted my heart. That experience sparked a desire to participate in a more complete way with Camp Kesem and the fire was lit.

Favorite Camp Activity: Zip line or Pool time or pretty much the whole camp!

 

Kit Kat (Catherine Black)

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Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2014)

About Me:  Kit Kat originally hales from the great state of Arkansas. Her favorite things in life are binge-watching Netflix and buying snacks at the gas station near her house.

How Did You Catch the Magic?  I saw the Camp Kesem booth outside my office window and thought “they look lonely, I’ll go talk to them”. Best decision of my life.

Favorite Camp Activity: The King Swing and practicing my bird calls.

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PR/Marketing Coordinators:

Bullwinkle (Kyle Kener)

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Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2014)

About Me:  I am a Sophmore studying Physiology and Developmental Biology.  I grew up in Pocatello, Idaho and have a loving, supportive family that have taught me so much.  I love the outdoors and look for any excuse to be active.  I especially enjoy mountain biking, skiing, and hiking.  There is no place like the mountains.  I enjoy playing sports of all kinds and am always ready to have a good time.

How Did You Catch the Magic?  I was feeling like I just needed something more in my life and one day found Camp Kesem on the Y-serve website.  I instantly knew that it was the right fit for me and have since been so grateful to be a part of it.   I had the opportunity to be a counselor for the Yellow Group (the very BEST group at Camp, ages 6-8) where every moment of everyday was a blast!  The level of happiness I experienced at camp is something that is hard to explain.  The term “magic” is commonly used to describe the experience and I feel that it is a perfect description. The kids are the bravest and strongest kids I have ever met.  Dealing with the stress, fear, sadness, and frustration of a parent’s cancer is not something that a child should have to go through. They face tougher challenges and bigger obstacles than I have ever experienced in my life, yet they do it with a bright hope that is hard to find elsewhere.  They are willing to befriend anyone they meet and love every individual for who they are.  I have rarely felt such love and support in my life.  The Camp Kesem family is one of the closest around.  I initially thought I would be the one helping the kids by getting involved, but I came home from camp this year feeling more uplifted than I ever expected. In fact, those bright smiling faces taught me more than I think I could ever help them.  I was the one on the receiving end this year.  I look up to and admire these wonderful youth more than they know.  They will accomplish great things.  I am excited to continue to be a part of this program and look forward to continue developing these special friendships. I really enjoy being able to visit them and support them at their activities all year round.

Favorite Camp Activity: Every Part, Camp is fun and uplifting 24/7!

Beta (Hannah Shawgo)

Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2014)

About Me: I grew up in Utah as the oldest of nine children, and am currently studying public health at Brigham Young University. I love reading, swimming, the outdoors, and most of all Kesem! My greatest dreams in life are to be a mom and work in the medical field as a Physician Assistant in Pediatrics.

How Did You Catch the Magic? I caught the magic through my sweet campers from my first year. Indian, Scout, LeBron, Lord Business, and all the rest. I was skeptical before camp, but now that I’ve caught the magic I am never letting it go.

Favorite part of Camp:  My favorite part of camp is the cabin chat after empowerment. Empowerment in and of itself is super powerful, but the cabin chat after is when the kids will open up as themselves a little more. Especially the ones who do not feel like sharing in the big group. It is so touching and I think listening to how much they have grown made me the happiest I have ever been.

Volunteer Coordinators:

Baloo (Sean Allsop)

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Camp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2013), Volunteer Coordinator (2014)

About Me: Yo  Yo! I’m Baloo! I am a BYU student studying Physiology and Developmental Biology. I hope to become a Marriage and Family Therapist. The things that I love in life are boating, baseball, snow, friends, family, and Camp Kesem!

How Did You Catch 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 in 2013 and be volunteer coordinator this past summer (2014). Camp Kesem has allowed me to spend 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 Activity:  WATER BALLOON FIGHT!!!!!

Teta (Kristine Jolley)

unnamedCamp Kesem Experience:  Counselor (2014)

About Me: I am an Elementary Education major with the hopes and dreams to become a Child Therapist. I’m from Vernal, UT and like any country girl, I love country music, greasy hamburgers, 4-wheeling, camping, and anything with the outdoors. I also grew up in a family which enjoy the arts such as theatre, music, and dance. I just love life!

How Did You Catch the Magic?  I wanted to do something cool in the summer, and G-snap told me about this awesome program. I thought, “Why not?” Then as I learned more, I realized how much this program impacts my life along with loved ones of mine. My aunt passed away from cancer over 4 years ago, and I saw how hard it was on myself but especially my cousins. I wanted to help these amazing kids as much as I could, and I saw the love they give to everyone. Through my time at camp, I had so much fun! I didn’t realize how much fun I would have at camp. Then after camp, I didn’t realize how much healing would happen including my own. These kids are life savers for themselves, for each other, for their families, for me. These kids helped me catch the magic.

Favorite Camp Activity: My first thought was “Camp Kesem”, but I figured I would narrow it down to pool time because we know how to rock it in the pool!