By Sarah Danis
WITH OPEN ARMS
This free summer camp supports children affected by a parent’s cancer.
THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA’S Camp Kesem chapter is a student-run nonprofit dedicated to supporting children through and beyond their parents’ cancer. The 7th Annual Camp Kesem UGA will be holding two week-long sessions of camp this year at Camp Westminster in Conyers, Ga. One will be from May 27 to June 2, and the other from July 1 to July 7. Ninety-five children will attend each session of camp and have the opportunity to bond with other children who are in similar situations. Camp Kesem at the University of Georgia is the local chapter of a nationwide nonprofit that provides a lifelong community of friendship, love, and support for children whose parents have or have had cancer. Their mission is rooted in free, week-long summer camps with year-round programming, such as reunions and grief support. “It felt like cancer was defining their childhood,” said one Camp Kesem UGA parent, explaining why she sent her children 8 Athens-Oconee Parent
to camp. “Signing my kids up for Camp Kesem was the first good thing I did for my kids after I got sick.” At Camp Westminster campers from ages 6 to 16 will enjoy activities ranging from horseback riding and wakeboarding to arts and crafts and dance battles. In addition to the fun-filled activities that relieve children of their worries and return their freedom of youth, campers also participate in unique empowerment programming. Many children affected by a parent’s cancer express hopelessness about their parents’ conditions and distance from old friends who can only pity rather than empathize. Camp Kesem’s empowerment programming shows campers that other children share their experiences and will support them through all trials of their parents’ health. “I never thought I could be the same person that I was until I came to camp,” one Camp Kesem UGA camper said.
Camp Kesem is a nationwide community, driven by passionate college student leaders, that support children through and beyond their parent’s cancer. Camp Kesem operates over 100 free summer camps in 40 states for children ages 6 to 18 who have been impacted by a parent’s cancer. This camp experience and Kesem’s year-long programs have a lasting impact on children by providing them a peer-support network that understands their unique needs, builds confidence and strengthens their communication skills. In 2017, Camp Kesem served over 7,200 children coast-tocoast, all funded by generous donations from individuals and corporate support. For more information on Camp Kesem, please visit www.kesem.org, Facebook.com/ CampKesem, and @CampKesem on Twitter and Instagram. To fill out an application for your child to attend one of their free, weeklong camp sessions, email the family outreach team at firstname.lastname@example.org. ■