December Camper Spotlight – The Hawn Family
For the holidays, we are giving you something extra for the Camper Spotlight – four campers! We should warn you, these brothers – Piano Man (Jack, 16), Riddle (Benjamin, 14), Fudge (Stephen, 12), and Harry Potter (Daniel, 10) – all have some pretty amazing talents. They have attended Camp Kesem Michigan since before the University of Michigan and MSU created their own individual camps!
Besides the obvious love for piano, Piano Man was born to be a dancer. He currently attends ballet school in Pittsburgh, where he lives with a few RAs and other students from all around the world. He is training to be a professional ballet dancer, miles away from his family at home in Michigan. PM spends five to six hours a day rehearsing, six days a week. In his minimal off time, he plays piano, explores the city with friends, and does schoolwork through cyber school. Originally, he auditioned for the summer intensive program, but not only did he get an acceptance, he also got an invitation to the year-round school, where he now is in his second year. Piano Man’s favorite part about Camp Kesem is the community in general; having such a strong tight-knit community where you don’t have to know the person previously before they become family. His advice is for everyone who’s involved to be as involved as they can, and for as long as possible. the more that everyone helps out, the more people want to help the organization grow. (Photo 2013 Richard Sofranko Photography)
Riddle plays soccer for the high school varsity team (as a freshman!), dabbles in guitar and piano, and plays violin a lot. He also enjoys drawing. His favorite part about Camp Kesem is that even when you aren’t at camp, you still feel like you are because you can still connect with your friends. His advice for people who have never been to camp is: “Raise your expectations. realize that it’s not a normal summer camp.” When we asked how he felt about knowing that he has three brothers at camp with him, he said that he doesn’t see them during the day really, but that he really likes being able to borrow things if he forgets them : )
Fudge plays a lot of soccer, and a lot of guitar. He decided he wanted to play guitar after seeing family friends in a band. His favorite thing about Camp Kesem is “The people. Every person!” He has some great advice too: Really think about your camp name because you might regret your choice. Think hard about it before you arrive at camp. On how he feels about his brothers being at camp he says, “It’s that awkward stare during lunch like … I live with you outside of camp. I can be with them any other time, go away at camp” (Although Mom says that they are much closer after camp, regardless of saying they don’t want to hang out while they are there).
Harry Potter, like Fudge and Riddle, likes to play soccer as well. However, instead of the guitar, he plays drums during church services! His favorite hobby is photography, which he discovered while playing around with his mom’s camera and learning from his cousin. His favorite thing about camp is that everyone who goes has the same problem and everyone can relate to it; you don’t feel like you have to hesitate or be around people who aren’t like you. Plus it’s really fun! His advice to new campers is to get as involved as you can, and then go as long as you can until you can be a CIT. Don’t be afraid because once you get there you’ll be happy that you went.
Thank you so much to the Hawn family for telling us all about your awesome talents! They also attended the National Leadership Summit at their home camp in Fenton, MI this year, where they spoke on the family panel to over 400 student leaders from CK about why they love the organization.
November Camper Spotlight – Tartarus and Jalapeno
For November, we have two campers new to CK Austin, who have some awesome hobbies. Tartarus (aka Adan, age 12) loves theatre and lizards! Jalapeno (aka Izzy, age 11) loves fashion, making art and collecting anything miniature.
We got to ask them a few questions about these awesome interests, as well as a few things about their time with CK!
Q. What is your favorite thing about Camp Kesem? How did you get your camp name?
Tartarus: My favorite part about Camp Kesem is getting to know a bunch of people that I’ve never met before and making new friends. I chose the name Tartarus because I like Greek mythology and how unreal it seems. I like whenever I read a book about it, it’s like I enter that world.
Jalapeno: My favorite part about Camp Kesem is meeting new friends and hearing everyone’s stories about why they are there. I chose the name Jalapeno because I love to eat jalapenos and any spicy food really.
Q. Jalapeno, what is your favorite miniature object in your collection?
A. My little mini Coca-Cola cup is my favorite because it’s so cute and tiny and only about one centimeter tall.
Q. Tartarus, what is your favorite play you’ve ever been in?
A. Probably the one I’m in right now (To Kill A Mockingbird) because it’s full of suspense!
Q. Jalapeno, what do you plan to do with all the art you create?
A. I like to hang it on my walls and give it to my mom.
Q. Tartarus, if you could be any type of lizard, what would it be?
A. I would be a bearded dragon because I’ve been fascinated with that creature since I was about two years old.
Thank you to Tartarus and Jalapeno for telling us about your unique interests and hobbies!
October Camper Spotlight – Xena and Enderseeker
Just in time for Halloween, we have two awesome campers very involved in film, and more specifically, horror films.
Meet Xena (aka Naomi), age 13 and her brother Enderseeker (aka Tyler), age 10. Xena and Enderseeker are both campers at CK UCLA. They have both been featured in big films lately: Xena debuted in “A House is Not a Home,” which won first place in the Burbank Film Festival for the horror genre, and Enderseeker debuted in “Insidious Chapter 2” which was a box office hit.
This dynamic duo goes to three to five auditions per week. In a two week’s time they might also go to three acting classes, a voice class, and an improv class. They still find time to hang out with their friends a lot, and sometimes they even bring them to their auditions! Their dad made sure to mention that don’t get a break from their homework, though, especially because their mom is their manager. : )
We were lucky to be squeezed into these superstars’ schedule for a couple of questions:
CK: Is it actually scary to act in a horror film?
Enderseeker: I’m not scared when I’m shooting because first of all, I know we’re just acting and second of all, there’s lots of people around me working on the set.”
Xena: Half of what you see in the movie, you don’t see when you’re actually there… When you’re there, you know that nothing is actually going to hurt you.
CK: How do you feel watching a film you are in after it is complete?
Xena: It depends on how you feel that you played your part. If you fee that you did good at your part then it doesn’t matter what people think.
Enderseeker: If I see myself on film and others start complimenting something in the film when I watch it, I”m usually like OK, that’s kind of cool… I Like that. Either way it’s their opinion and they are entitled to it!
CK: What are your favorite scary movies?
Enderseeker: “The Conjuring” is one of the two scary movies that have actually scared me… That, and “The Thing” (the original).
Xena: “The Call.”
Thank you Xena and Enderseeker! Make sure to check out www.ourzombiemother.com to learn more about their Dad’s new horromedy (horror/comedy) series starring Xena, Enderseeker, and Maria Olsen (from Percy Jackson’s Lightning Thief), which is a family-friendly Zombie story!
September Camper Spotlight – Bamboo
Welcome to the September spotlight, featuring Bamboo (aka Dara Yu)! Bamboo and her sister, 1:07 (Elena Yu) have been long time Camp Kesem campers. 1:07 started attending in 2005 and is now a counselor at our UCLA chapter. Bamboo has been a camper since 2007. The two started attending Camp Kesem at UCLA when their father was diagnosed with cancer and have been a part of our family ever since!
September was an especially exciting month for 12-year old Bamboo because she made her TV debut! Back in April she auditioned and was cast in a new competition show on FOX called Masterchef Junior with host, Gordon Ramsey. We got the chance to catch up with Bamboo about her experience and her interest in the culinary world:
CK: So tell us about your experience with the show!
Bamboo: Well, there were 24 of us total. We ranged from 8 to 13, but most of the kids were around my age – 11- and 12-yr olds. It was really fun because everyone is just like you, we all love to cook! After three weeks of filming, everyone is like family to us now. The show was so fun – every challenge was awesome! They would give us a challenge, but we could still do what we wanted with it, so it was even more fun.
CK: How was the host, Gordon Ramsey?
Bamboo: He’s actually really nice! He has 4 kids of his own, so he knows how we work.
CK: What made you want to start cooking?
Bamboo: My grandma was in a cook book and has been cooking since she was my age. I grew up around her and she taught me a lot. My palate has really grown also from traveling a lot and going to a lot of restaurants. I love learning how to cook and getting to taste good food!
CK: What are some of your favorite things to make?
Bamboo: Well, at home, I bake a lot. I recently mastered French Macarons! My favorite flavors are raspberry and lavender. For dinner, I like to experiment with different meats. One of the dishes I made on the show was an herb-crusted rack of lamb with a yogurt mint sauce. I usually also include a carb or a starch and of course a veggie.
August Camper Spotlight – Maverick
Hello Camp Kesem! Welcome to our first ever camper spotlight, featuring Maverick (aka Derek Tully)! Maverick was less than enthusiastic about going to Camp Kesem when his mother first told him about it. He was just nine years old, and his father was a cancer survivor. Most of his memories from his Dad’s illness were blurry; it was a confusing time for such a young boy. But with his mother’s urging, Maverick agreed to go to camp.
It was UC Davis’ inaugural Camp Kesem. There were just 13 campers that first year and Maverick received the royal treatment from the student leaders. “I had a really good time. All the counselors loved hanging with the kids. Everyone became very close. Then I just kept going after that..”
Fast forward nine years. Maverick is now the longest attending UC Davis camper. “Camp has had a big impact on my life; it really helped me with understanding what my Dad went through and help me to deal with it, especially what I didn’t understand earlier. Camp Kesem also gave me a chance to meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends that went through the same things I did.”
This summer, Maverick became a Counselor-in-Training (CIT) for the UC Davis camp. “I went in thinking I was just going to be an ‘older camper’ but then you are really a counselor,” said Maverick.
“For some kids it was their first time; they were very reluctant,” explained Maverick. “One boy was at Camp for the first time and he was crying before we left. Both his mom and my parents and I were encouraging him to get on the bus. He struggled at first, but then after a while he saw how everyone was having so much fun. The counselors really did a good job at keeping him active. In the end, he had a great time and was very involved. I think camp helped him a lot.”
Maverick graduated from high school this year. In the fall, he heads up to University of Oregon to study Marine Biology. Oh, and of course he is already planning to join Oregon’s Camp Kesem chapter.
“It’s not about me anymore,” says Maverick, “It’s more for the kids. I know that camp really affects their lives – forever. I want to pass on my memories to them and help them make their own memories. I want to keep Camp Kesem going strong.”