July 30, 2012
Day Six: Closing Comments
The inaugural year of Camp Kesem UGA has come to a close! Our campers left Friday afternoon, following a potluck, paper plate awards, and a handful of performances for their families.
Usually we jump write into blog writing, but this post is a little delayed simply because it has been incredibly hard to write. That’s because it’s borderline impossible to summarize this experience in words alone. If you have experienced Kesem, you’ll understand. But for those of you who haven’t… Where do we even begin? It’s easy enough to tell you what we did each day, but it’s much more difficult to express what each day did to us…
I could ramble on and on for days about the past six days of my life. Life changing couldn’t begin to explain it.
But while our first year of camp has been literally years in the making, it is not about us. It has never been about us. It has been and always will be about these children. While cancer has torn their young hearts apart, we can only begin to hope that Kesem has brought a little bit of magic back in their lives.
Five, ten, fifteen years from now, I know that I will look back on Camp Kesem UGA’s first year and be amazed at the dedication our first eleven counselors showed. Be blown away by the hard work of our first admin team. But most importantly, be truly, wholeheartedly grateful for the strength and the courage and the absolute joyfulness of our first twelve Kesem campers.
I’ve never been that great with words. I’ll leave that to Honey. But I have never felt more alive in my entire life than I do after this week. I cannot believe that I am blessed enough to get to work with Camp Kesem UGA again for the next two years.
My heart jumps for joy at the thought.
Until next year,
I think I’m expected to start by saying that the end of week is bittersweet, right? But that’s not right at all. For me, our closing day was 100% sweet-sweet.
Several people have asked for the origin of my camp name. There are a handful of silly reasons I like to list, but the main inspiration was a proverb that reminds me of Camp Kesem: The bee stings, but honey is sweet.
At times, the sting of cancer seems insurmountable. But how sweet it is to see the genuine bonds that campers and counselors formed in six short days. How sweet to share stories of our week with camper families. How sweet to chatter excitedly about next year this and next year that, because every single camper and counselor who experienced Camp Kesem this week wants to come back and do it all over again. How sweet to receive heartfelt letters from parents, declaring their children forever changed for the better.
I can’t believe it’s over… but that’s because “it” isn’t over at all. Sure, the week of camp may be over, but all of our Camp Kesem stories have only just begun. I know in my heart that the work we’ve done this year will serve as an unshakable foundation for our Camp Kesem chapter. We will be here to serve the Georgia cancer community as long as there are families in need. We will not stop until cancer stops. We will grow, we will spread, and we will impact as many families as we can. If we must, we will fight for Kesem, because Kesem changes lives.
Because it’s good. Because it’s important. Because it’s necessary. Because it’s fun! Because of Striker and Frenchie and Monkey and Snake and Turtle and Goldfish and Chicken and Oreo and Sissy and Paris and Nemo and Daisy and every other one of the millions of us who has been heartbroken by the big bad bully that is cancer. And because Kesem truly is magic.
Here’s to this year of camp, and the many more years to come.
May Kesem act as a healing force in the lives of all it touches.
With all my love and gratitude,
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