The magic of Spring 2012, University of Wisconsin Our people make all the difference: the campers, families, organizers and counselors that make up this wonderful family and community. This newsletter is dedicated to those people who put great effort and work into this organization - we want you to get to know them too! We asked our families and counselors to share what “Kesem” means to them...read more to find out!
Meet the Gilkisons As with many other folks, our family has had several encounters with cancer. Our daughter, who goes by the camper name ‘Bookworm,’ (now age 11) grew up with a dad who was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was three years old, and a grandmother who was diagnosed with her third cancer when Bookworm was an infant. Bookworm watched her dad go through two brain surgeries and long-term treatment for a life threatening infection. She also spent countless hours in chemo bays, in-patient hospital rooms and various other non-traditional places just to be at the side of her favorite person—one of her grandmothers whom she called ‘Amah.’ Bookworm didn’t know other kids whose lives were so enmeshed in the medical system and when she was younger she didn’t seem to notice the difference. That changed as she got older, and Camp Kesem has offered an ongoing source of connection and support. Camp Kesem means so many things to our family. We learned of Camp Kesem through Gilda’s Club, where Bookworm has participated in a weekly Kid Support group with other kids whose families are affected by cancer. For our family, Camp Kesem means Bookworm has a fun, safe community of people who understand and support her. It means as parents we feel less alone in helping our daughter navigate the world of cancer and its impacts on people she loves. Camp Kesem means our daughter has endless role models in the counselors who plan, fundraise and execute an incredible camp experience for a group of fortunate, grateful families. Bookworm’s first year at Camp Kesem was so much fun that she started talking about going back to camp next summer within five minutes of getting home. It was her first experience at a sleep-away camp, and she came home with so many incredible stories and experiences. We were thrilled. Bookworm’s second year at Camp Kesem came at just the right time. Her beloved Amah had passed away a couple weeks earlier and Bookworm was heartbroken and desperately in need of the opportunity to just be a kid. Camp Kesem provided her—and us—all that and so much more. The Gilkison Family, March 2012
Hi, my name is Sydney Templeman – better known as Kiwi! I’m studying Communicative Disorders, and heading off to graduate school in the fall to study Speech Language-Pathology. I love traveling, board games, and being active outdoors! I got involved with Camp Kesem my junior year because I love kids and hate cancer. Right after I joined Camp Kesem, my best friend since high school was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Camp Kesem became more than an extracurricular activity to me. Although I didn’t share my experience with other Kesemers until my first counselor interview, it felt terrific to surround myself with others who have or had been through similar experiences or simply shared a hatred for cancer. I am so thankful and fortunate that I gained my Kesem family and support system during the most difficult time of my life. Being a counselor has definitely been my favorite college experience, and I seriously cannot wait for this summer!
Hello, my name is Alex Burford. I’ve always loved working in childcare, and was thrilled when a friend told me how to get involved in Camp Kesem. I’m a junior studying biochemistry at UW Madison with aspirations of being a pediatrician. For me, imagination is what makes this job so special. There is no better way to spend time then exploring all the different games and worlds children can make out of nothing. Camp Kesem is a chance for kids to do exactly that: a place where they can come together, temporarily set aside some immense life challenges, and imagine. I look forward to meeting all the wonderful campers, and making some magical friendships!
As for CKUW updates, we are getting excited for our third summer full of camp fun and kesem! Since our last newsletter, CKUW has experienced some very exciting updates: • The national branch of Camp Kesem (composed of other college campuses across the country) became a partner with Livestrong through their Community Impact Project last fall! Livestrong has provided great support and assistance to all of the Camp Kesem chapters, and we couldn’t be more thankful for this partnership! • CKUW has been hard at work planning for our youth camp (ages 6-13)....but also our TEEN camp (ages 14-16)! We are excited to be offering this new program to returning and new families! Stay tuned for more updates on this! • The 2012 Kid’s Carnival is coming up! It will be held on Saturday April 21st from 2:30pm - 5:30pm at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center in Madison. Fun games, activities, prizes and food! Admission is just $1! Visit www.campkesem.org/uwmadison/calendar2012 for more information! Follow our activities as we prepare for our third summer of youth camp, and our first teen camp! There are a number of ways you can follow CKUW -->
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Family and counselor stories, information about summer 2012, and upcoming events!