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Counselor Blogs – “I am already counting down until I can go back to Camp Kesem”

This entry is part of a series in which each of our counselors reflects upon his or her unique experiences with Camp Kesem. Today’s entry is by  James “Duck” Jacobi, who served as a counselor  at camp this year. 

Last spring a few of my friends came to me and told me that I should interview to be a counselor at this new camp that was starting at UGA. They told me it was a camp for kids whose parents have been affected by cancer, and since the camp was just getting started, they needed counselors to interview and be ready before the camp started in the summer. I thought this sounded like a good cause, and even though I have never been to a camp of any kind and neither of my parents had ever had cancer, I decided I wouldn’t mind getting involved and seeing how I would do in the interview. I then received confirmation that I got one of the positions as a counselor, and was pretty excited to see what camp would be like.

I began spending my Sunday afternoons at counselor training sessions with a bunch of the other counselors who I didn’t know, learning about camp which I was clueless about. When it was finally time to get to camp I was unsure if I would be able to have the energy and enthusiasm required of a Camp Kesem counselor, especially when it came to singing and dancing. I got a little nervous and wasn’t sure if camp was really going to be my thing.

And then the campers got there.

Spending a week with our 12 campers changed my life in the most positive way possible. I have spent the last four summers coaching a neighborhood swim team, and realized that after one week of Camp Kesem, I had bonded with all of my campers more than I had with any of my swimmers. The emotional connections we made while talking about our hardships was a key reason for this, but the constant laughing and having fun with this diverse group of kids also helped us to get close. I was labeled by the campers as a weakling in any game that required me to keep a straight face, because seeing them have so much fun, while taking a breather from the stresses of home, brought the biggest smile to my face. It was such a gratifying experience to know that myself and all of the other counselors were able to take kids living in such a painful and difficult situation and bring them constant levels of happiness. Whether we were “Riding that Big Fat Pony”, looking for baby frogs in the creek, or just catching up on the latest 7th grade gossip, there was always fun to be had in every situation at camp.

It is because of the experience that I had with those campers that I am already counting down until I can go back to Camp Kesem and get back to having those infinite levels of fun. Reuniting with the entire Camp Kesem family, counselors and campers alike, is something that I have been looking forward to since the last day of camp. I hope that everyone who has the opportunity to get involved with this program takes advantage of it and can come away from it with as positive of an impact as I have.