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About Us


Our History

Camp Kesem (Hebrew for magic) was originally started at Stanford in 2001, and has since spread to over 60 other college campuses.  We hosted our first session of camp in August 2012 and are hard at work planning for our 2015 camp!

Our Mission

Giving Kids the Opportunity to Be Kids

Since 2000, Camp Kesem has given children affected by a parent’s cancer the opportunity to just be kids.  The ever-expanding Kesem community engages in camp activities like sports, arts and crafts, and drama to give campers a fun-filled week.  Campers also participate in “Cabin Chats” with fellow campers and counselors, giving children the chance to share their experiences with each other.  There are plenty of laughs and lots of emotional support, but Camp Kesem does not provide therapy.  The tremendous fun and support campers experience is what makes Camp Kesem a transformative, magical week for campers and counselors alike.

Empowering a Generation of Student Leaders

Camp Kesem makes a huge impact on the lives of children, but it also prepares and empowers a generation of student leaders by allowing responsible college-age individuals to make a meaningful difference. Each of our camps around the country is organized and operated by the young up-and-coming leaders of tomorrow who gain hands-on experience in fundraising, finance, marketing and project management as they bring much-needed happiness to truly deserving kids. In addition to real-world skills, Camp Kesem enables student-leaders to discover their passion for serving others.


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. We are a secular camp open to all children regardless of race, religion, nationality, or financial standing. Thanks to our support from individuals, foundations, and corporations, Camp Kesem is free! More than 20 volunteer counselors from the University of Washington will staff the camp, ensuring a 3:1 ratio of campers to counselors so that each camper gets the attention and support that they deserve. We will have professional staff on site at all times, including a certified nurse, therapist, and a national camp adviser.
Our Inaugural year we served 24 smiling faces, and in our 2013 year we grew to 51 campers. In 2014, we had over 80 campers and we plan to reach full capacity this year with 90 campers!