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History & Mission


Camp Kesem (“Camp Magic” in Hebrew) began in Spring 2000 as a Hillel social action project initiated by Jewish students at Stanford. Students and staff assessed the needs of children in Northern California and found that children who have a parent with cancer have unique needs and are under-served. Camp Kesem was founded to help fill those needs. Summer 2001 marked the first year of Camp Kesem and was very successful, hosting 35 campers. In 2010 we celebrated our tenth year of camp. 123 campers attended this fun-filled week held at YMCA Camp Loma Mar in Loma Mar, CA (near La Honda). Camp Kesem is now a national organization serving over 1200 campers at over 23 campuses. We are currently entering our 14th year of Camp Kesem at Camp Loma Mar, and looking forward to this year being the best one yet!

Camp Kesem provides a safe, supportive and exciting overnight camp experience for children who have a parent who is currently in treatment for cancer, is in remission from cancer or who has died from cancer.  Campers have the unique opportunity to build friendships and gain strength from peers facing similar challenges.

Our Purpose:

– To build a supportive community for Bay Area families coping with cancer by creating the week of Camp Kesem and camp reunions.

– To empower students to participate in community service by providing leadership positions, organizational roles, and opportunities to work directly or indirectly with children who has/had a parent with cancer.