On My Second Family

I was blessed enough to be able to spend this past weekend at Camp Kesem’s National Summit. I was even more blessed to be at our own campsite with over 430 amazing student leaders and alongside eight of my truly incredible co-coordinators. If you’ve spent more than ten minutes with me, I’ve probably mentioned Camp Kesem in some aspect. We’re a national nonprofit organization with 73 chapters at universities across the country. We offer free summer camp to kids whose parents have been affected by cancer.


My journey with Kesem began my freshman year of college at the University of Michigan. My mom had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and I moved halfway across the country from her. I came to Ann Arbor feeling very alone in more ways than one, and the first few months of my freshman year were a lot of tears and worry…and that’s when Camp Kesem came along.

I saw a table for Kesem at our involvement fair my freshman year, and the rest is history. I fell in love. The students in this group were unlike people I had ever met before – they were so welcoming, so loving, so open. Fast forward three years later, and I am serving my second year on the Coordinator board for our chapter, with ambitious goals for the future of the organization.


This weekend was a time for me to take a step back from seeing Kesem everyday as just another meeting I had to go to and see the way that this organization worked on a national level. I spoke to coordinators from chapters all over the country at tons of different universities. I was able to hear from the amazing woman who started Camp Kesem back in 2000. I heard talks from some really incredible fundraisers and organizers of the organization.

Every minute of Summit was more and more incredibly useful information and wisdom that I cherished every second of. Saturday night, one of my co-coordinators and I were walking across the huge camp field back to our cabin and decided to stop and look at the stars for a minute – being out in the middle of nowhere can have its benefits. We sat on the grass for a good half hour talking about Kesem and how incredibly thankful we are for its presence in our lives. We spoke of our hopes and dreams; we spoke of our fears. We shared our fears of being that person who got that horrible news some day down the road (both of our mothers having battled with cancer). We shared our fears of the ugly truth that we would know so, so many kids who would need Kesem in the future. We shared the ugly truth of the future.


It was that night and this past weekend that made me realize just how much this organization has changed me. In a camp video that an incredible videographer (shout out to Lightning) made a few years ago, the song in it is This = Love by The Script. Ever since seeing that video, that song is constantly such a perfect representation of Kesem for me. The lyrics of the chorus are as follows:

Love is why we do it
Love is worth the pain
Love is why we fall down
And get back up again
Love is where the heart lies
Love is from above
Love is this, this is love

And that is what Kesem is. Kesem is love. Kesem is magic. Camp Kesem was and is the light in my darkest times. Camp Kesem is the reason I stay strong and the reason I stay happy.

i dont have to be

If you’re interested in helping me to reach my fundraising goal of $1,000, please donate here or ask me how you can donate in other ways. Thank you.  ♥


On CK Love and Family

I haven’t written on here in a while, but that’s because my summer was crazy, and the last three weeks were the busiest weeks of my life. I took a nice family vacation to San Francisco where I was able to see a ton of stuff I’d never seen before, and then immediately drove down to Orlando, Florida for a vacation with my friends and an awesome Harry Potter convention called LeakyCon. At LeakyCon, I had the incredible opportunity of attending a private event in the new Diagon Alley park at Universal Studios, which was absolutely amazing. Walking around Diagon Alley with only 1500 other people was incredible. I may have cried a few times on the Hogwarts Express, but it was just all so magical. Being there with my best friends was everything I could have dreamed of and more.


(this post isn’t about LeakyCon at all, but I had to mention it)

After returning from LeakyCon, I had one day in my bed with my dog then turned around and drove up to Ann Arbor to start my next year at the University of Michigan. To start off my next year up here, I spent a week in Fenton, Michigan serving as a camp counselor for Camp Kesem. Camp Kesem is a non-profit organization that provides a week-long summer camp to children whose parents have or have had cancer. (Links to more info about the camp below) This is an often over-looked group in terms of need, and Camp Kesem takes the time to make their lives special, too.

Almost a year ago from now, I attended a mass meeting for Camp Kesem, because the students at the booth at Festifall were really enthusiastic and it seemed like an awesome program that I related to on such a personal level. At the mass meeting (and subsequent meetings) I knew absolutely no one and usually just sat in the back not talking to anyone. I spent the year fundraising, and eventually assisting in planning programs for the week(s) of camp. So bright and early on Saturday morning, I woke up, threw my stuff in the car, and started driving to Fenton. Halfway there, I realized I forgot my pillow which had my blankets and towels in it. So stopping somewhere between Ann Arbor and Flint at a random Kohl’s I bought brand new pillows and towels. Random road bump aside, I finally arrived at camp extremely confused and already tired and slightly sick with absolutely no idea of what to expect.

Flash forward a few hours and I was in a room with 20+ people who were accepting me into their family without even knowing me. It was insane, and I loved it. They were so welcoming and passionate about what we were doing. Now, I could go through every single mushy detail of every single day of camp, but I’m not going to do that.

So long story short(er), by Tuesday night, our unit was sitting in a circle at our cabin chat, crying and comforting each other in our most vulnerable moments and I realized just how inspired and amazed I was by these kids and by the counselors. In just a few days, I had experienced more love than I had ever experienced in my entire life, and it was from people I had just met. Despite everything these people had been through, they knew how to love more perfectly than anyone else. It was a different kind of love. It was an unconditional everything-in-it kind of love. It was a love that I didn’t know that I needed, but when I felt it, I realized that it was about all that I needed.


If more places in the world were like Camp Kesem, this world would be a much better place. So, thank you to all the counselors, campers and staff. This week changed the way I see myself and the way that I see the world. You will inspire me every single day to be a better person and to share myself with the people around me. To the black unit, you guys are absolutely amazing and inspiring. Y’all are strong and beautiful people who have truly changed me. To my overflow cabin girls, thank you for staying up and talking about camp until the wee hours of the morning (but let’s be honest, we never stayed up past 1 because there were no kids in our cabin). So much CK love to each and every one of you and thank you for allowing me to be a part of your family. Until next year! Ay-ay-bo-diddly-STOP.


(that’s stuck in your head now, isn’t it? Sorry not sorry).

If interested in learning more about Camp Kesem, go here.

If interested in donating to Camp Kesem, use this link!