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Camp Kesem North Carolina’s 10th Anniversary

Ten years ago, Camp Kesem North Carolina was founded by three visionary young men: Yoav Lurie, Jeff Leibach and John Rimel.  The program has grown tremendously over the last decade, expanding from welcoming 8 campers in their first year to providing the magical camp experience to 134 children this summer.  Alumni, supporters and camper families are gathering together to celebrate this milestone with a brunch and silent auction on Saturday, September 15th.   For more details on how to attend or contribute to the event, click here.

We asked Jeff (camp name “Tiny”) to reflect on his Kesem experience.  Here is what he shared with us:

“This past week, as I was trying to sing my newborn daughter Kaylee to sleep, I found that the only lullabies that I could remember were Camp Kesem songs.  I found myself wishing I had a circle of campers to help “make rain” to calm her down, along with a Camp Kesem song sheet—full of lyrics to my favorite tunes.  Camp Kesem has a magical way of becoming a part of each of us long after our camp experience.

My Camp Kesem experience started 10 years ago in a classroom at Duke University, where an extremely enthusiastic student (Yoav Lurie) in my social entrepreneurship class pitched an idea about a camp for children of cancer patients that he heard about from friends at Stanford.  Throughout the planning process in our first year of camp, we met challenges that threatened the viability of Camp Kesem North Carolina.  An ice storm forced us to find an alternative campsite.  We were short $15,000 in May.  We had several families pull out of camp in the last minute.  Through the hard work of our leadership team, and the support of the families, counselors, and community partners, we met each of these challenges and came out better on the other side—with an outstanding campsite, over $20,000 in new funds, and several rockstar families that laid the foundation for our network of camper families in the future.

Last month, CKNC wrapped up its 10th summer of fun, complete with rock climbing, creeking, and of course, Color Wars.  The time in between has been filled with hundreds of counselors, thousands of campers, and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours spent fundraising, recruiting campers, training counselors, planning and running amazing camp programs.  As a co-founder of Camp Kesem North Carolina, I take great pride in the fact that the organization has thrived throughout the years.  I am humbled and inspired by the contributions of each counselor, donor, and volunteer that has made ten years of Camp Kesem a reality for our campers.  Moreover, I am incredibly grateful that the transformational experience of being a Camp Kesem student leader remains a possibility for students at Duke and UNC, as well as more and more universities across the country.

On Saturday, September 15, CKNC will be honoring its tenth year with a Share the Magic fundraising event.  It is my hope that through this event and many other continued fundraising events, that when Kaylee is in college 18 years from now, she will have the opportunity to become a Camp Kesem student leader. (Although, I’m pretty sure she won’t be going to Carolina…Go Duke!)”