Organizational Overview

Camp Kesem
PO Box 8538
Austin, Texas 78713

Mission Statement

Camp Kesem is the only national organization that recognizes and understands the overlooked population of children affected by their parent's cancer. Student leaders at UT Austin spend all year fundraising and planning a magical week-long camp during the summer, which is provided free of cost. Camp Kesem also provides all year support for these children through reunions and events.

Camp Kesem at University of Texas Austin provides support for families affected by cancer, focusing specifically on the children who are forced to grow up too soon. This year, we have been chosen as the first chapter in our region to hold two weeks of camp this summer. We hope to welcome 150 children to our camp, and have a fundraising goal of $150,000. Will you help us bring magic to families affected by cancer?

Impact Statement

When a parent is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is affected. For children, the carefree joys and adventure of childhood are replaced with new responsibilities, anger, guilt and the fear of losing (or loss of) a parent. There are currently no other camps and few services available to these children in the nation. To address these needs, Camp Kesem at University of Texas Austin was founded in the fall of 2011 and welcomed 24 campers to our inaugural camp during the summer of 2012. Last year, we more than quadrupled our reach by hosting 109 campers at YMCA Camp Flaming Arrow in Hunt, Texas. This year, we hope to bring the magic to a total of 120 campers at Camp Young Judaea!

Needs Statement

Since camp and all support programs are completely free for the families, each year, our members work tirelessly to fundraise the entire cost of camp through events and personal donations. To welcome 150 campers this year, we must raise $150,000.

"Kesem is like a whole 'nother world where I feel normal, and everybody around me also feels normal, so it just feels like I'm living in a perfect world."
-Hawkeye, camper age 10

"Camp Kesem is a place where I can get away and be with people that have shared the same experience."
-Katniss, camper age 13

"Camp Kesem affected my family really positively because before my kids went to camp, they did not really talk about my cancer experience or what they thought about it very much, so it was a way for them to really open up and feel like they were like everyone else... and they had a lot fun! After camp, the biggest change I saw was that they were more open to talking about it, and they felt like they weren't alone."
-Brandie, mom

For more quotes from our campers and their families, please watch the video above!
Camp Kesem at University of Texas at Austin was founded in 2011 and supports children affect by a parent's cancer in the Austin community by providing a week-long summer camp experience and year-round peer support. Camp Kesem at University of Texas at Austin is operated by 75 student volunteers and serves 150 campers aged 6-16, and also offers a CIT (Counselor In Training) program in which campers aged 16-17 can apply for and prepare to become a counselor. Our volunteers fundraise all year long in order to put on our camp free of charge to our campers and their families.