“Camp Kesem is the greatest gift I have ever stumbled upon, and offers the greatest family I could ever imagine.”

Counselor Duck shares his second experience as a Camp Kesem counselor in our blog series! Want to know more about being a counselor? Come out to our Counselor Info Session at 7 PM tonight in SLC 247! See you there!

Duck is a senior Business Management major.

Going into my second year of being a counselor for Camp Kesem UGA, I thought I for sure knew what I was getting myself into and would be ready for anything. We had run a flawless camp the year before, and with a year under our belts, our second camp could only be easier. I would be prepared for the emotional ups and downs discussions of cancer would bring us through the week, and I knew everything there was to know about camp.

 Fortunately going from a camp of twelve campers to forty-four creates an entirely new world that caught me completely by surprise. You would think such a jump and added stress would make the week more difficult, but it only made it better. Watching forty-four kids between the ages of six and sixteen form such strong bonds in one week, when it normally takes years to develop, was easily the most amazing and beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. And these bonds weren’t only shared between campers, but with counselors as well. 

When I first started as a counselor for Camp Kesem UGA, I did it because I enjoy working with kids and having a good time. I told everyone that I didn’t have any real connection to cancer, because my whole family has always been fortunate enough to avoid it. However, I then became a member of the Camp Kesem family, and am affected by forty-four amazing campers and their stories of cancer. During our empowerment ceremony I was moved to tears (sobbing actually), because it pained me to see our giant family in such a difficult situation. As a 21 year old college student, I am rarely in such situations with so many powerful emotions. But having an eight year old cry into my shirt for what seemed like hours caused me to fully open up emotionally myself and embrace the bravery of all of the kids at our camp.

 And then, once I had composed myself, I was able to see the incredible power of Camp Kesem at work: normally “too cool” teenage boys were comforting each other and giving support; younger campers were hugging crying counselors; and everyone in the room felt strength that Camp Kesem offers to children with sick parents. 

Being at camp this year was absolutely amazing. I came home from my first year at Camp Kesem ecstatic with how great it was, and when I left my second week of camp, I was in awe of the change and growth it had on so many young people (counselors and campers alike), including myself. Camp Kesem is the greatest gift I have ever stumbled upon, and offers the greatest family I could ever imagine.

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