Camp Kesem National Conference
This past weekend, I traveled to Los Angeles with 11 of my fellow coordinators to attend the Camp Kesem National Conference. This year was particularly special because it is the 10th birthday of Camp Kesem, which was started by Iris Rave at Stanford University in 2000. Since then, it’s grown into a national organization that serves over 1000 campers on 22 college campuses.
Camp Kesem is a college student-run summer camp for kids whose parents have (or have had) cancer with a two-fold mission: (1) To provide kids whose parents have or have had cancer with a summer camp experience that gives them a chance to be kids, and (2) To allow college students to channel their passion for making a difference, while developing critical leadership skills for long-term social impact. For the young campers, camp is a magical place where they have the times of their lives and be with a group of peers and new friends who understand how they feel and can relate.
I joined as a member and went to my first camp as a counselor last year. At the first general meeting I attended, everyone was so welcoming and fun, and I’ve fallen in love with the organization ever since. The cause is close to my heart and it’s great to have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of young kids.
The conference was jam-packed with lots of speakers and informational sharing sessions. These were helpful, but I think I learned the most from just talking with coordinators from the other Camp Kesems across the nation. It was awesome to share our experiences in a casual setting and just be around so many other people who are passionate about Camp Kesem as well.
The most powerful parts of the conference were the camper and parent testimonials, which were filled with emotion and life. With week after week of work, it’s often easy to forget all the reasons why we all volunteer our time to Camp Kesem. This weekend reconnected me with every single one.
(Photos by Vu Bui)