It may look like it, but Camp Kesem is anything BUT your normal camp.
On Saturday, April 5th, 2014, kids from across Illinois and Iowa met in the Quad Cities to meet and reunite.
“A lot of the campers come from the Illinois area and all the way out to Boone, Iowa and so they’re not always close enough to see each other and so it’s really great to be able to have the reunion,” says Jessica Launius, Co-Direector of Camp Kesem.
Launius is a student at Augustana College in Rock Island. She and a group of other Augie students run Camp Kesem every year.
This weekend, her team met with past, present, and future campers to play games, make crafts, and spend time with counselors before their week together in July.
“We do rock climbing with the kids, they go kayaking, we have arts and crafts and sports everyday like your typical summer camp.”
However, unlike most camps, this one is specifically for children who have parents with cancer.
“So really, we want this to be a chance for the kids to just have fun and break away from that,” Launius says. “We do have one event during the week that’s called ‘The Empowerment Ceremony’ and that’s a chance for the campers to talk about what they’re experiencing with cancer and how they’re feeling. A lot of the counselors will also share their experiences and it works to bring the camp together as a community and really help these children realize that they’re not alone.”
“A lot of these campers come to camp without friends who know what they’re going through and they leave camp with friendships that are irreplaceable and unable to find and so it’s really a great opportunity for them to get to know other children who are feeling the same way and are going through similar things.”
The camp is free, thanks to donations from the community. Camp Kesem is holding its largest fundraiser of the year on May 10th at the Quad City Botanical Center. For more information, click here.