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Introducing Otter and Squirt!


Columbia Engineering 2016

Major: Chemical Engineering

Position: Cabin Counselor

My name is James Zhang but you can call me Otter! Why Otter? Because otters are so playful and active, this describes me well! Otters are always enjoying themselves and the company of others. With this enthusiasm I want to help make Camp Kesem an amazing and fun experience.

One of the first times I heard about Camp Kesem was from a close friend when he was fundraising on campus. I was very surprised by the unique style of their approach: some people would definitely find it embarrassing to participate in. Yet everyone was enjoying the fundraising, creating an atmosphere that was welcoming and fun while also driven with the same goal: to make Camp Kesem an experience these kids will never forget. After observing the Camp Kesem team and learning more about its mission, I was inspired to apply because of the resolve and contributions that each of these members brings forth. Before in the past I have worked and volunteered in many student groups, yet this is the first time I have seen the kind of enthusiasm that Camp Kesem members show constantly. I want to be able to contribute in my own special way to make Camp Kesem better, while also learning from fellow counselors and children to improve myself as well!

I am most excited about just being able to spend time and participate in activities with all the kids. Our goal at Camp Kesem is to create for these kids a summer camp and friends they will never forget, yet in this process we can make it just as memorable for ourselves as well. Through the teamwork and skills of the Camp Kesem members, we can create a week of fun and smiling faces these kids walk away with, knowing that through our hard work and dedication our camp was a success. We as Camp Kesem counselors would finish the week with more friends, more memories, and also excitement for the next camp to come. This is what I look forward to at Camp Kesem!

I look forward to making memories here at Camp Kesem with everyone!


217979_514373475243567_1983196792_n (1)Squirt

Barnard College 2015

Major: Film Studies

Position: Drama Program Coordinator

When I was a freshman I wasn’t the kind of person who found her niche right away. I signed up for a ton of things at our club fair and was “experimenting” with clubs more so than “committing” to any. About 3 weeks into school one of my best friends told me about Camp Kesem and how incredible it was working on the executive board and being a part of the team. I began going to CK events and learning a lot about it and in a few more weeks, the public relations position on the executive board needed to be filled and I volunteered as tribute. I was thrown onto this team of dedicated and passionate student leaders and I was thrilled.
In the following year we grew to form the most outstanding first year camp I had ever seen (ok. the only first year camp I’d ever seen…). Our camp last summer was one of the absolute best weeks of my life. Not only were the campers so much fun and so excited, but the counselors brought it. I mean really brought it in a way that is rare and worth noting. When we got back from camp, in our counselor closing ceremony, we did a lot of bonding activities, and I just remember looking around the circle and feeling a real sense of accomplishment. One year through college and look at what we’ve done.
So I jumped on the chance for my second year on the executive board, this time as a camper care coordinator. This year has been busy and crazy, but I would not trade a moment of it because I know that in a few weeks our camp is going to be phenomenal thanks to everyone who contributed this past year. This group of students is so hard-working and hilarious and ready.
I do Camp Kesem because of the indescribable feeling of knowing that you had a hand in accomplishing something so much larger than yourself. The indescribable feeling of singing by a campfire and roasting marshmallows with some of the coolest campers you’ll ever meet. It’s hard to put that feeling into words, but I think it’s something like magic.