For children whose parents are battling cancer, it can be difficult to still be a kid. Students looking to make an impact in these children’s lives have that opportunity through Camp Kesem, a student-run summer camp for children whose parents have or have had cancer.
Camp Kesem is a national organization with about 130 chapters across the country. Every year, cities across the nation hold a free, week-long summer camp for children whose parents have or have had cancer. Established at Stanford University in 2001, it is the largest organization dedicated to this cause and is exclusively run by college students.
This year, the University brought a chapter to Auburn through the efforts of students like Claire Rose, a senior in public relations.
“I actually had a tie to [Camp Kesem] — my mom had cancer when I was 10,” Rose said. “I didn’t know about Camp Kesem then, but one of my friends at another university told me about it, and so that’s what peaked my interest.”
Rose is co-director of the Auburn University chapter of Camp Kesem and is responsible for bringing the new chapter to Auburn. Picked out of a pool of applicants, she was chosen to be a campus director because of her love for the program and its mission.
Ivan Glotov is a sophomore in pre-med microbiology. Because of his same love for this cause, Glotov was picked by Rose to be one of the executives to work the fundraising aspect of Camp Kesem at Auburn.
“I also had a friend who told me about Camp Kesem, and I was interested and thought it sounded really cool, so I decided to interview for a position,” said Glotov when asked about how he got involved with camp. “It’s been a good time.”
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When Rose was asked about how Camp Kesem has affected her so far, and whether her involvement has affected her career path, she said, “I’ve just always been really passionate about helping kids whose parents have cancer. There’s a lot of organizations out there that will help adults with cancer or will help kids with cancer, but no one really focuses on the kids whose parents have cancer. I feel really passionate about bringing it to this area and making sure all of the kids who fall into this category will be served in the Auburn-Opelika area.”
Glotov had a similar response.
“I have a friend who helps out with Camp Kesem at [the University of] South Alabama, and I have had a few family members affected by cancer,” he said. “Hopefully, after medical school, I will be a pediatrician.”
The Auburn chapter of Camp Kesem is excited to offer camp counselor roles and leadership positions to the University’s students.
“It’s hard to start a new organization on campus, [and] we are still very small,” Glotov said. “We’ve been working so hard on this all year. It will be so rewarding to see camp happen and to see kids happy.”
When asked for final words on Camp Kesem, Rose replied, “There’s a thing they say at Camp Kesem: ‘Kesem is magic.’ It’s hard to explain that to a person who has never experienced it before, but it really is this magical feeling. [The program] really brings kids together and they can relate and make these strong bonds and friendships.”
If you are interested or would like to know more about how to support the Auburn chapter of Camp Kesem, their Instagram is @campkesem_auburn. The camp will be held at Children’s Harbor on Lake Martin from June 27 to July 3, 2020.
“There are no pre-requirements or anything like that,” explained Rose. “You just have to be a good person [and] enjoy working with kids.”
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