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Counselor Blogs – “Kesem” Represents Strength

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 Janette “Danger” Gee, who served as a student support coordinator, admin team member, and counselor  at camp this year. 

“Camp” is one of my favorite words. It’s the word that my mom could say to get me away from the television during the summer, and the only event for which I love to pack. It symbolizes all of my favorite activities: campfires, singing, canoeing, and swimming. I began going to camp when I was nine years old and have called it my “home away from home”, my “escape”, my “peaceful haven” ever since. Due to divorce, two remarriages, and never ending familial conflict, it has been the only home of mine that I can count on to remain the same, and tears fill my eyes every time I think of not going back. Camp was where I grew into the woman who I am today, and it is where I am my favorite version of myself. I never thought that I would find another word that I loved as much as “camp”, until I learned the word “kesem”.

“Kesem” represents strength. Strength of a 6-13 year old to deal with ten times more hardship than they should ever have to face. Strength in their parents who, despite having cancer or a spouse with cancer, love their children with their whole hearts every single day. “Kesem” also reminds me of the anger that I felt when I heard our campers’ stories and couldn’t take all of their pain away. Most of all, “Kesem” makes me think of the moment when I realized that I should love every person that I encounter as if they have cancer because all people deserve to be treated with that compassion. “Kesem” means magic. The strength, love, and beauty that I saw in the campers and counselors at Camp Kesem was magical and something I will never forget.