For many of us, cancer is an unavoidable topic. It is mentioned while talking about our friends, relatives, pets, and even our parents. While cancer surrounds all of us in ways that seem overwhelming or even consuming, to be a child between the ages of 6-13, this feeling is much greater! When I was between the ages of 6 and 13, I had a blast running around outside, going on bike rides, playing board games, making up silly dances to my favorite song at the time, and just being a kid. For a child to have a parent battling cancer, being a kid is the last thing on their mind. They assume new responsibilities and have to learn to be mature and almost adult-like at a young age.
At Augustana, there is an organization called Camp Kesem Augustana. We provide a free, weeklong summer camp for kids ages 6-13 whose parents have, had, or passed away from cancer. This summer was our first camp ever! Believe me, we all lost some sleep and probably pulled out some of our own hair during the process of even being able to have a camp, but it was all worth it! The group is composed of all Augustana students. These students are the counselors at camp. Now, being able to have camp does not cost a small fee. We had to fundraise and raise $31,000 just to have a camp! Needless to say, no lemonade stand is bringing in that kind of money! We had to get creative! Bake sales at football games, messy games in the quad, canning in the community are just some of the ways we raised money. We also spent hours and hours writing letters to everyone we know in hopes that we receive an envelope back!
Camp Kesem Augustana was held July 22-27 in Boone, Iowa at the YMCA camp there! We had about 40 campers between the ages of 6 and 13. This was our first year, so there was a lot of excitement and nerves as well. It did not take long for the campers to start their fun, whether it was covering a counselor with stickers on the 4 hour bus ride to camp from Augie, or just talking about what they are excited for at camp or what their camp name was going to be. (At Camp Kesem, all campers, counselors, nurses, therapists, etc. go by a camp name. This can be anything they want! Some examples: Panda, Guppy, Manbear, Nemo, Happy Feet, Jazz, Gizmo, Momo, Booger, Moose, Sparrow, Rafiki, G$, Krispen, Tanks, Aquaman, White Thunder, G-Force, Yoda, Cookie, Ladybug, Scooby, Inspector Gadget, Coco, Shutterbug, Pheobe, and Robin.)
Everyday at camp we went swimming, played games, did crafts, and did a special activity like tie-dye! We had an animal show come and the campers had the chance to touch the various animals. There was even a Cockroach!! It was fun to see their reactions to the different animals! One of the favorite days at camp was the day of messy games. This is where we all wore old clothes and played games such as bobbing for pickles, condiment dodgeball, jelly slip and slide, kool-ade and flour duck duck goose, and chocolate pudding toss. After about 15 minutes, the different activities turned into one giant food fight! Maple syrup was being sprayed, dodgeballs covered in ketchup were being thrown, handfuls of chocolate pudding were being thrown on the top of your head, and handfuls of flour were hitting you in the face. We were all covered in chocolate syrup, ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, maple syrup, whipped cream, chocolate pudding, flour, kool-ade, pickle juice, jelly, and much more!
At the end of the week, we received fantastic news! CAMP KESEM AUGUSTANA IS HAVING A TEEN CAMP NEXT YEAR!!!!!!! This means that we can accept kids from 6-16 now! We are more than excited!!
It was empowering to hear the stories of each camper and counselor. The week of Camp Kesem Augustana cannot be put into words. New friendships being formed, tears being shed, and hours of laughter made Camp Kesem the very best week of any summer! It is an experience that will never be forgotten! We cannot wait to begin fundraising for Camp Kesem Augustana 2013!!!!!
To see these pictures, and many others from the week of camp, or for more information, visit Camp Kesem Augustana College on Facebook, or visit our page at www.campkesem.org/augustana
Posted on August 8th, 2012 by Allison Nagy
Filed under: Allison Nagy