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!
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.
-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."
For more quotes from our campers and their families, please watch the video above!