What Camp Kesem Means to Me: A Parent’s Perspective

Last month we started a three part series that will run over the next couple of months about what Camp Kesem means to our counselors, parents and campers.  

Today, we focus on our CKIU parents.  Here is what camp means to Mr. Harvey and Mrs. Hughett. 

A Parent’s Perspective by Matt Harvey

Camp means Energy. As a parent with cancer, I truly appreciate the energy of others. I love the endless energy of my kids and the excitement and enthusiasm of the Camp Kesem counselors. September of 2011, I was diagnosed with Folicular Lymphoma. I went through two full years of chemotherapy and have come out the other end stronger willed than ever. I do not have the energy that I did, but I think my kids, Jalapeño, Jorge, and BBJ, have picked up all that I have lost and more. When my boys come home from camp, they are full of great stories, but wiped out. These counselors seem to bubble with energy when they are working with these kids. Now that I am on the Advisory Board, I am blessed to watch all of the behind the scenes work that goes into this experience. I am impressed with the energy and passion the counselors have to make a magical week for the kids.

Camp means Opportunity. This summer will be my boy’s third year at camp. They talk about being there all of the time. I say that casually, but it is true. Camp has allowed my kids to zip line across a lake, jump on a Blob, make a Sundae on Shammy’s, Butters’, or Slam’s head in the Messy Olympics, and most of all, share their experiences with kids that are going through some of what they have gone through.

Camp means Emotions. My boys have not told me all of what happens in camp, but it must be powerful. They have cabin time in the evening that provides an open forum to talk about what is on their minds. I am sure that the counselors facilitate this and guide the discussions some, but even my quiet son who internalizes everything, opened up to share his thoughts.

Camp means Anticipation. Once my kids went to camp, they immediately look forward to the next time they will be with the counselors and other kids, be it a reunion or camp week. They have been blessed to be able to attend a couple of other camps, but Camp Kesem is by far their favorite. I must admit that I also look forward to the week of not taking them to practice and day camps all over town so that I can spend a little one-on-one time with my wife.

Camp means Thankfulness. I am thankful that Camp Kesem exists. Dealing with cancer is hard, but watching your kids worry and fear about you is even harder. Camp Kesem exists to help support these kids and give them a short period of time where they can forget about what is happening at home.

Thank you Camp Kesem for giving that time, excitement, fun, peace, and joy to my kids.

What Kesem Means to Me by Krysti Hughett

In the spring of 2005, I was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer, stage IV (and there is no Stage V!). My computer and the internet became glued to my fingers searching for information. I saw a poem online calling breast cancer a gift. No, cancer wasn’t a gift for me, but a few weeks later at my treatment center, I found a gift, a blessing, and it was in the form of a brochure about a new camp for children whose families were dealing with cancer. Camp Kesem Indiana University! Immediately, I filled it out and sent it in; not even sure if I would live to see my six year old attend camp that August. Would I even want to send my young daughter for a week at camp even if I made it through to see that day?

Looking back, I yell a resounding “YES”! Camp Kesem IU has been one of the most meaningful experiences in my daughter’s life. Blessed am I to see her turn 15 years old and starting to drive! This summer will be her 10th time at CKIU. Blessed are we to have our Camp Kesem family! My daughter “MoMo” (camp name) literally packs months ahead. One year she planned which school she would attend so she could make sure she was at Camp Kesem. Even if she had decided on the school with a year ‘round calendar, we would have made sure she was still at CKIU anyway. It is that important to her and to us.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, my child was the only one with a bald mommy in kindergarten. My child is in 8th grade now and is the only one in her class that really knows what CAT scans and chemotherapy are. When she is at Camp Kesem IU, she is with other kids who understand. Our children put on a brave face when our families deal with cancer, but a week away of fun and giggles and the comfort of being with other kids who understand and have been there is priceless. And did I mention the blessing of Camp Kesem not costing the participants’ parents anything?

Blessings are knowing that CKIU is there for our children. When dealing with cancer treatments and costs, there is a huge blessing in being free. The summer week of camp is a time for parents to reconnect with each other while their children are having a blast. We CKIU parents are blessed that the wonderful students work so hard to raise the money and plan a magical week for our children. The student counselors say they are blessed that they get to be with our kids, but the blessing is that these future leaders volunteer their time to benefit our families. CKIU, we love you!

Check back next month to hear how our CKIU campers feel about Kesem. #CKLOVE #FTOK

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