Kesem: supporting children and peers impacted by parents’ cancer

Photo of Camp Kesem counselors and campers. Photo provided by Camp Kesem.

Here at WCU, Kesem is made of devoted students that provide a support group for children/peers, ages 6 to 18, who have been impacted by their parent’s cancer, through summer camps and all year-round support. 

Kesem is a chapter of a national organization and we support kids through and beyond their guardian’s cancer. We do that in a ton of ways throughout the year, our biggest thing is a completely free weeklong summer camp,” said director Caitlyn Cable. 

Kesem is a new organization on campus, created in the fall of 2020. Gracie Jackson oversees Kesem’s Marketing & PR. She says there was a lot of planning to get everything set up to participate in the voting process for which schools could start a chapter of Kesem during the 2019-2020 school year. Twelve schools were in the running but only five schools were chosen. WCU was one of the lucky ones.  

For some of the student members, this organization has a personal impact. Director Will Allen has been through this tough ordeal and connects with Kesem’s purpose. 

“When I was growing up my parents got divorced. My father moved out of state and my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, so I just felt very alone at the time and very unsure about a lot of things, so when I found out about Kesem coming into college I felt immediately drawn to it and wanted to be a part of it,” said Allen. 

Photo of Camp Kesem counselors and campers. Photo provided by Camp Kesem.

Allen, along with the other student organizers have set a goal of raising $30,000 for the 2022-2023 year. They are also hoping for 35 campers next summer.  

“We are a nonprofit so all of the fundraising that we do to make camp free for everyone is completely funded by us and the work we do throughout the year,” said Madison Jordan, outreach coordinator.  

In November, they will be hosting a Friends and Family Day which is an opportunity for returning and prospective campers to see what activities they do at camp as well as an info session for parents where they learn what Kesem has to offer. 

Returning families must register campers by December. New families have until Jan. 24. 

“There is so much that goes on in our lives from our personal lives to our family lives and Kesem is that one place that you can forget about it and enjoy the presence of others,” said Aidan Koschnitzki, the organizations treasurer.  

If you are interested in volunteering for Kesem, email or check out their Instagram @kesem_wcu.