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What is Camp Kesem?


Kesem (n.) magic; the ability to change a life; an agent of growth; a unique power that transforms kids

Camp Kesem is a college student-run summer camp for kids with a parent who has (or has had) cancer. Our one-week sleep away camps are a chance for kids ages 6 -16 to have a fun-filled week to just be kids. Everything we do at Camp Kesem focuses on our goal of giving our campers the most fun week possible, while providing the extra support and attention they need. 2015 will be our 8th summer of camp.


Quick Camp Facts

* Camp Kesem programs are FREE of charge for the participating campers/families. No catch. UF students raise all of the money and organize the entire camp!
* While this camp is for children who have a parent diagnosed with cancer, the focus is not therapy. Our goal is to just have fun!
* Camp activities include sports, arts & crafts, drama, and “Cabin Chats”
* Counselors are rigorously trained on camp safety, communication, behavior management, emergency & medical procedures, and grief & mourning.

Cabin Chats

Cabin Chats give everyone in the cabin the chance to speak in a comfortable atmosphere about anything on their minds – from thoughts on their day at camp to their experiences at home – their favorite color to their favorite vacation. Everyone is encouraged to participate.


Camp Kesem had its beginnings in 2000, when four Stanford University student leaders chose to change the lives of the children in their northern California community. Working with Hillel at Stanford, staff member Iris Rave helped the four student leaders set up Camp Kesem. The group chose the word Kesem, which means “magic” in Hebrew, because their goal was to bring “magic” to families coping with cancer. Thanks to the hard work of many student leaders, Camp Kesem at Stanford hosted 37 campers at its first one-week summer camp in 2001. Word quickly spread and the Stanford student leaders encouraged their friends at colleges across the country to replicate Camp Kesem in their communities. Camp Kesem began at the University of Florida in 2007 by 10 founding members, and our first camp was held in August 2008.

What students can do to help?

We are busy planning Camp Kesem throughout the school year and the summer before camp actually starts. There are five committees: Operations, Outreach, Development, Volunteer, Marketing/PR, & CIT. Through these committees, you can get hands on experience on how to plan a camp and actually be a camp counselor over the summer! We need all the help we can get and definitely encourage you to join us! Counselors have already been selected for this summer, but applications will open again next school year. Email uflorida.volunteer@campkesem.org for more information!


Camp Kesem, University of Florida

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