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Counselor Perspective: Blossom

Kesem (n.): magic; the ability to change a life; an agent of growth; the unique power that transforms kids into Camp Kesem Campers.

I arrived at camp the first day feeling pretty inadequate and skeptical. Despite hearing so many good things about camp and being super excited about it in the months leading up to camp, I still wasn’t really sure if one week of camp was going to make a lasting impact. Really. Let’s be real.

However, coming to camp broke down my pessimism real hard, one event after the other. The first thing I noticed was how the returning campers raved about last year’s camp. This wasn’t the typical reminiscence of all the fun things but it extended beyond that. These kids talked about how encouraged they were from last year and how much they valued the Camp Kesem family. As the week progressed, I was seriously astonished at the support network among these children. They were really subtle, but they had each other’s backs and I was honestly surprised at their capacity to be so compassionate to each other. The empowerment ceremony further confirmed the lasting impact of the Camp. I remember one camper who was about 6 years old went up to talk. He started crying, and his twin sister went up and hugged him and whispered, “everything’s going to be okay.” That successfully released the waterworks for me.

Camp Kesem is for a lifetime. Yes. We made countless memories. We let the kids make human sundaes out of us. We hid in trenches to surprise them for hide in seek. We went water sliding into the creek. We had a paint war that stained us so badly that it took a couple of showers to rinse it all out. We spent quality time at the end of each day at cabin chats sharing about our lives. These moments were worth it all because Camp Kesem is more than a week. With my own eyes, I saw the empowerment of these kids. They come out knowing they are not alone. They can make an impact from their stories. They can smile and know that it’s ok to be joyful; it’s ok to be a child. They empowered me, as a counselor, they empowered their peers. This is the magic of Camp Kesem.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson