Half of all men and one third of all women will develop cancer in their lifetime according the American Cancer Society. The support is there for grown-ups; but the special emotional needs of children of cancer patients can often be overlooked. More than 3 million children are left to deal with these tragedies on their own and frequently miss the joys of childhood. This is where Camp Kesem and Southern Utah University comes in to save the day.
Camp Kesem, a summer camp for kids whose parents have or have had cancer, takes place on 37 different university campuses across the U.S. and has been hosted at SUU for the second year.
As an explanation to the purpose of Camp Kesem, Stephanie Goodwin, SUU Camp Kesem co-chair and recently graduated nursing student said, “Children should never face a problem alone and by attending Camp Kesem they learn that there are kids just like them that understand their pain.”
The camp—similar to a sleep away summer camp—features sports, art, drama activities and nature hikes. But unlike other summer camps, at Camp Kesem every camper in attendance has had an experience with cancer in his or her immediate family and they participate completely free-of-charge.
One camper said, “My family would never be able to afford a camp like this. I felt like I could just be a kid at camp and walk away from cancer for a few days. All the kids knew exactly how I felt.”
A parent whose child attended Camp Kesem said, “Camp Kesem is the one good thing that has come from my cancer. My children have benefited greatly from attending the camp. It was a place they could be accepted and learn they can still be happy.”
But this camp just doesn’t give opportunities for children, it has an added benefit to the students who organized and lead Camp Kesem. One of those participants was Evan Whipple, who was able to coordinate his efforts through Camp Kesem and complete his EDGE (Education Designed to Give Experience) project.
Through the EDGE program, each student must design, propose and complete a hands-on project in the hopes of giving SUU graduates an advantage as they apply their education beyond the walls of the classroom. Whipple, who is studying nursing, recognized early on that the helping to organize this camp could be applied to both requirements and further the experience he gained for both.
“I am grateful for the lessons I have learned, the friends I have made, and the service I was able to give. This has been such a great experience,” said Whipple, a junior from Ephraim, Utah.
If you want to get involved with Camp Kesem as a donor, volunteer, or to register your child for next year’s camp, go to www.campkesem.org.