Courtesy of Camp Kesem Cornell

Camp Kesem is a weeklong summer program for children with parents who have cancer.

March 22, 2018

Camp Kesem Hopes to ‘Make Magic’ at Fundraiser for Children Impacted by Parents’ Cancer

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The Cornell chapter of Camp Kesem, a summer camp for children impacted by a parent’s cancer, will hold its third annual “Make the Magic” fundraising dinner on April 14.

The chapter provides a weeklong summer camp for children to get away from these stressful home situations, free of charge, according to Aditi Mohapatra ’19, co-coordinator of the Make The Magic event.

“It takes around $40,000 to run a summer camp for about 40 kids,” Mohapatra said. “Last year we raised $12,000, and we hope to raise $18,000 this year.”

The benefit dinner is the Cornell chapter’s largest event every year.

Five million children nationwide are affected by a parent’s cancer, and Camp Kesem is “the only organization in the U.S. that addresses to that population,” Mohapatra said.

Founded at Stanford University in 2000, Camp Kesem is a now a national nonprofit organization with over 200 chapters.

“They’ve been through a lot and we want to give them a chance to be a kid again,” said Shelley Zhang ’18,  the other co-coordinator of Make The Magic. “For a lot of kids, they’re the only ones dealing with this, so Camp Kesem is a community for the them.”

“Last year we threw powder paint, we also went kayaking and swimming,” Zhang said.

The camps have Cornell student counselors, certified nurses and mental health professionals who are present for support and emergency, Zhang and Mohapatra said.

“Our campers have parents with variable experiences with cancer, some unfortunately succumbed to their illness, while others are currently still diagnosed, in remission, or have recovered,” Mohapatra said.

According to Mohapatra, some of the campers have had to deal with the death of their parents, so the camp is a supportive platform for the children to interact with others who have had similar experiences.

“Kesem translates to ‘magic’ in Hebrew, hence the name Camp Kesem,” Mohapatra said. Mohapatra, who was a camp counselor in the past, said it is “the most magical thing” to see children with this similar background come together and support each other.

The Make the Magic benefit dinner will be held at 6 p.m. on April 14 at the Ithaca Marriott Hotel Downtown. Tickets can be purchased online for $60.