Creating Connections with Camp Kesem

UNL students Lexi and Hannah with Stacey from TeamMates

Each year, UNL students gear up to facilitate another fun summer with Camp Kesem. This free, week-long, overnight summer camp is a great opportunity for kids who have been affected by a loved one’s cancer diagnosis. There are over five million children that are coping with a diagnosis, and Camp Kesem aims to alleviate the increased anxiety, emotional isolation, and/or feelings of hopelessness. Although activities are not centered around grief support, there is an evening where kids can connect with other kids and share their stories.

Camp Kesem serves kids 6-18 years old. There are many fun-filled activities throughout the week, with high school students focusing on leadership development. Camp leaders Lexi Gravagna and Hannah Olson both talk about the growth that kids feel when they go through camp. Many are quiet on the first day of camp and by the end of the week, are the most talkative of the group with many new friends. One of the goals of the camp is to give kids a lasting community with friends that have experienced similar things.

This fall, Lincoln TeamMates had the opportunity to partner with Camp Kesem to make something special for the kids. Over 100 friendship bracelets were made by TeamMates mentors and mentees for the campers. Each camper that attends Camp Kesem will be able to pick a bracelet to keep.  “Our hope is that they know that TeamMates matches are thinking of them while they are going through this difficult time.” said Audrey, a TeamMates staff member who coordinated this project.

Camp Kesem is currently looking for college students to volunteer to serve. They also have some openings for more kids to join the fun this summer. If you are interested in either of these opportunities, please visit: https://www.kesem.org/chapters/nebraska.

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