For Parents

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Who can become a camper?
A child is eligible to attend Camp Kesem W&M if at least one primary caregiver is currently undergoing cancer treatment, is in remission from cancer, or has passed away from cancer. The child must be between age 6 and age 16 during the week of camp (August 16-22nd, 2015). Camp Kesem does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, gender, economic status, or other factors. Camp Kesem is provided free of charge to all families.

How can my child attend Camp Kesem?
An online application will become available November 15, 2015. Please email with questions concerning the application process. Campers are accepted on a first come, first serve basis until camper quota is reached.

When is camp? 
Camp Kesem W&M will be held from August 16-22nd, 2015.

Where is camp? 
Camp will be held at the Jamestown 4-H in Jamestown, VA.

How much does camp cost?
Camp Kesem is free to all campers. Along with the emotional and physical burdens that cancer can place on families, there is also a major financial strain. Thanks to the generous donations from community members, business, and other organizations camp is free to all campers.

How does a typical day at camp operate?
Each day has a different theme such as pirate day, Harry Potter day, or international day. (Daily themes vary year to year. There are two or three camp-wide activities relating to the theme each day. The morning starts with cabin rotations between activities such as sports, arts and crafts, dance/drama, and outdoor adventures. In the afternoon there is a camp-wide activity. The evening ends with a cabin chat.

What is a cabin chat?

Cabin chat is an opportunity for campers to bond and express their feelings. It is a safe and open conversation where kids can feel comfortable talking about highs and lows of the day, dreams, fears, or the effects of cancer if they choose. Cabin Chat is done with gender specific cabin-mates and is the concluding 30 minutes of the day.

How is Camp Kesem different than other summer camps?
Camp Kesem is able to focuses on the specific needs of children of families coping with cancer. We have a counselor-camper ratio of 1:2, which is excellent compared to other summer camps. Our staff is specifically trained to understand the needs of our campers. At Camp Kesem we create a safe, supportive and FUN environment, in which campers support each other and emerge from the week with increased self-esteem and with the understanding that they are not alone.

How is the staff trained?

With the help of community members, our staff undergoes intensive training that focuses on facilitating positive group interactions and creating a memorable experience for campers. Unit counselors, program counselors, and the administrative team must also undergo CPR and First Aid training.

My child has special needs; can he/she still go to camp?
Of course! We anticipate that many of our campers will have special emotional, social, and dietary needs. In fact, Camp Kesem’s excellent camper-counselor ratio means your special needs child will be given superior care.

Who runs Camp Kesem?

One of the missions of Camp Kesem is to allow college-aged volunteers to make a difference in the lives of others. Under the direction of national advisors and a community advisory board, students work year round to raise funds, organize camp activities, recruit campers and train volunteer counselors.

What does “Kesem” mean?

Kesem is the Hebrew word for “magic”. Magic is exactly what we hope to be able to provide our campers and their families. Does Camp Kesem have any religious affiliation? Camp Kesem has no religious affiliation at all. Camp Kesem is open to all campers regardless of religion, race, or nationality.

What if my child gets homesick?
Homesickness is dealt with regularly at Camp Kesem. As children become involved in the activities and make new friends, homesickness usually fades. We also ask parents to write a letter to their child in advance which is given to the camper midway through camp.

Is Camp Kesem a Therapy camp?
Camp Kesem is not designed for emotional therapy. The purpose of Camp Kesem is to give campers the opportunity to be kids again.

More questions?
We’re always here to answer them. Contact