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.
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. ♥