LOS ANGELES, June 2 Father's Day is a special day for many, however tens of thousands of children will relive a traumatic loss this holiday due to one of the leading causes of death in America: Cancer. There is very little support for children who are affected by the trauma of cancer, and many kids are left to face these personal tragedies alone. Camp Kesem is a college student-run nonprofit organization that offers free summer camp for these forgotten children. Through 23 different universities nationwide, Camp Kesem is the sole organization in America to offer this type of support. Kids who attend the camp have the opportunity to let go, have fun and just be kids while in a cancer aware environment and do all things camp like arts and crafts, rock climbing, canoeing, archery, singing songs and team building.
The mission of Camp Kesem is to provide these children with the extra support and attention they need, and to change the lives of families coping with cancer. "This year, Father's Day falls just two days after my 20th birthday and is a bittersweet reminder of my dad's death from kidney cancer in 1995, when I was 5 years old," says Deanna Becker, a Camp Kesem Northwestern counselor from Illinois. "The support and magic Camp Kesem brings to the families it serves is definitely something that I wish had been around for my younger brother and me when we were kids."
Founded by Iris Rave while an undergraduate student at Stanford University in 2000, the word spread quickly as college students were inspired by the cause, and in return, created camps across the country. College students keep the program afloat by fundraising year round, marketing the program through local newspapers, recruiting college student counselors making a magnitude of social impact along the way. Upon graduation, these students pass the torch on to other undergraduate students who continue the mission. Chelsea Cress, now 25 lost her parent to Leukemia at age 18 in her freshman year at Indiana University. She joined Camp Kesem as a counselor and explains how her future was affected by the experience. "It led me to find my career as a Child Life Specialist, brought me some of my best friends, gave me a whole new set of skills and taught me the resilience of kids and families. I will never be able to give back to Camp Kesem what I believe it has done for me."
Camp Kesem is open to any child age 6-13 or any teen age 14-16, who has or had a parent with cancer. Admission to camp is regardless of race, religion, nationality or financial status. For more information on Camp Kesem, including summer camp applications, to make a donation or get involved with the cause, please visit: www.campkesem.org. To view Camp Kesem magic, visit: www.youtube.com/campkesem
SOURCE Camp Kesem