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About Us

Our History

Camp Kesem (Hebrew word for magic) was originally started at Stanford in 2001, and has since spread to over 41 other college campuses. Camp Kesem was started at Northwestern University in 2003 and are celebrating our 11th anniversary this coming session!

Our Mission

Camp Kesem is a one-week, overnight summer camp run by Northwestern students for children in the Chicagoland area, ages 6-16 who have a parent who has died from cancer, is currently in treatment for cancer, or is in remission from cancer.  Camp Kesem is a secular camp open to children of all races, religions, national origins, and financial statuses, and it is free for all families served. It provides an opportunity for campers to build self-esteem and gain support from peers facing similar challenges.

Our Camp

  • The Camp Kesem environment promotes two goals: to create a fun, social setting akin to other summer camps and to provide the underlying support and attention geared directly to addressing the campers’ specific familial situations.
  • Free for the families served.
  • Receive 100% of our support from individuals, foundations, and corporations.
  • Sponsored by Camp Kesem National, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
  • Secular camp open to all children regardless of race, religion, national origin, or financial status.
  • 2014 camp will be held at the JCC Rainbow Camp in Milwaukee
  • Bus transportation provided from Northwestern University to and from camp



Our Counselors and Staff

  • 50+ volunteer counselors from Northwestern will staff the camp, giving an overall 2:1 ratio of campers to counselors.
  • Counselors undergo at least 30 hours of extensive training prior to camp.
  • Professional staff including a certified nurse, therapist, and a national camp advisor at the camp location.
  • The Camp Kesem Administrative team is comprised of over 50 student committee members along with the guidance of Camp Kesem National’s professional staff.


rock climbing


Typical activities campers will be engaged in will include:

  • Swimming
  • Sports
  • Gaga ball
  • Theater
  • Crafts
  • Rowing
  • Adventure outings
  • Arts and crafts
  • Ropes course

and much more!

Camp Kesem Northwestern will be holding its 11th session this summer! Dates will be announced soon.

If you’re interested in joining us at Camp Kesem Northwestern in 2014, please check out our brochure:

Click here to download the brochure

Thank you for your interest in Camp Kesem Northwestern!