About Us

What is our mission?

Our mission is two fold:
1. To provide kids whose parents have or have had cancer with a summer camp experience that focuses on having fun!

2. To allow college students to channel their passion for making a difference, while developing critical leadership skills for long-term social impact.

What is our history?

Camp Kesem North Carolina started with a big goal and a simple idea. Kesem is the Hebrew word for “magic”, and it is magic that is at the heart of what Camp Kesem gives to families touched by cancer.

In early 2002, Camp Kesem was proposed as a program of the Enterprising Leadership Incubator, part of the Hart Leadership Program at the Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University under the guidance of Professor Tony Brown. Three student leaders who took the lead built a business plan and began to lay the foundations for the first camp in the summer of 2003. Despite many challenges and drawbacks including an ice storm that destroyed the original campsite, the organization overcame those barriers with the help of generous donors and committed student leaders to make the first year a huge success.

Following that year, the program managed to raise upwards of $25,000 and develop a core curriculum and program for the camp experience and students involved with it year-round. In addition, 2004 marked the birth of a partnership between the students at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In August 2013, Camp Kesem NC expanded to offer two sessions in order to serve 161 campers. As the history of Camp Kesem North Carolina demonstrates, a commitment from the community and student leaders to serving families coping with cancer, it also helps predict the success of the camp program and student organization for years to come.

Why do we do it?

That one’s simple… ‘cuz its fun.

Where is it?

Camp is held at the Keyauwee Program Center south of Greensboro, North Carolina. Keyauwee is owned and operated by the Girl Scouts of America and features a host of wonderful activities and facilities.

What will you do?

Campers will enjoy a pool, an air conditioned dining hall, a nature center, a rock-climbing wall, an amphitheater, an arts and crafts center, and a slew of outdoor activities. In addition to all of the fun activities offered at the camp, we also offer emotional support and a safe environment for kids to be with others who are experiencing the same things that they are.

Who runs this show?

Camp Kesem was founded in 2002 by three Duke University students hoping to provide a special opportunity to the children of those with cancer. In 2004, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill partnered with Duke to run the summer camp. Since that time, the camp has been organized, directed, and staffed by a wonderful, caring group of student volunteers from both universities.