Camp Kesem National Summit Conference
Sometimes it is difficult to truly grasp what something means until you experience it for yourself. This was true for my first time as a counselor at camp two years ago and was true of our National Camp Kesem Summit conference over the weekend. I know that CK UCLA is only one of 54 chapters across the country but I couldn’t truly feel its impact until I was sitting amidst over four hundred student leaders from other schools all gathered in one room for one cause. It is all too is easy to develop a narrow vision of your own Kesem chapter’s success, since us coordinators pour our energy tirelessly into making sure our camp runs smoothly each year, but Summit was an amazing reminder that there are coordinator teams doing this across the country each year with just the same devotion and energy.
After nearly a full day’s travel with two flights and an hour-long bus ride, all fourteen of us arrived in Fenton, Michigan at the YMCA’s Camp Copneconic to smiles and laughter emanating from the caterpillar-ridden cafeteria. We had a wonderful initial presentation from our incredibly talented and ebullient CEO, Jane “Pocket” Saccaro, followed by rotations with other student leaders which included icebreaker games and many camp games and songs. The next day was a whirlwind of workshop sessions specific to each committee position, where we were able to learn and share ideas for success with all of the other chapters in a helpful and warm environment.
Amidst these workshops, an incredibly moving speech from our Board Chairman Ron “Oz” Glickman, an hour-long camp songs jamming session, and mass produced yet endearingly delicious cafeteria food, our committee stole away some time to stroll amongst the vibrant fall foliage near the beautifully tranquil lake. We realized how lucky we are to be a part of such a dedicated and spirited organization. Each committee member would agree that we accomplished our goal to collectively learn how to better empower our Kesem chapter from a somewhat administrative standpoint, but perhaps more importantly than that each of us was reinvigorated with the magic and passion that made us want to be a part of Kesem in the first place. Looking around at my fellow committee members while we took corny pictures throwing leaves in the air (since this is the closest us Californians will get to a real autumn), two things became clear: this was one of the happiest days I’ve had in and while and that I couldn’t imagine a more capable and fearless group to take on all the challenges, late nights, and immensely rewarding times that laid ahead.
I’ll leave off with one of the most memorable quotes that defines our committee dynamic, said by our stalwart Development Coordinator Simba: “Camp Kesem UCLA Committee 2013-14— just a bunch of silly kids.”