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Our mission, as articulated by Camp Kesem National, is twofold:
1) To provide kids whose parents have or have had cancer with a summer camp experience that gives them a chance to be kids
2) To allow college students to channel their passion for making a difference, while developing critical leadership skills for long-term social impact.
To us, this means that camp is a place where we try to foster a healthy environment for children who are struggling through the pains of having a parent with cancer. We help them live a worry-free week, enjoying time with others who understand what they are going through. Both campers and counselors alike learn and grow from the close friendships that are established at camp. Every year we hope to touch more lives, and are looking forward to sharing this experience with more campers as the summers go on.
The Need-- There are 1.7 million cases of cancer a year in the United States that affectindividuals and their families. Children whose parents have cancer often lack sufficientexternal support because they are neither physically ill nor visibly distinct from otherchildren. Their emotional needs often go unnoticed by teachers and peers, which can lead toisolation, low self-esteem, school difficulties, and anxiety and depression. It is often difficultfor these young people to find peers with whom they can relate, and they frequently lack theconfidence and tools to cope with these unique challenges.
The Vision -- By providing these children with a magical, safe, loving camp experienceshared with others who are facing the same issues, children can develop tools to express theiremotions in safe and productive ways. The acquisition of a local peer-support network canhelp to combat a sense of isolation and rebuild self-esteem.
The Goal -- MIT Camp Kesem plans to welcome 60 campers for the 2010 session. TheCamp Kesem environment promotes two goals: to create a fun, social setting akin to othersummer camps and to provide the underlying support and attention geared directly toaddressing the campers' specific familial situations.
Camp activities such as arts and crafts, swimming, nature activities and sports will provide a chance for the kids to spend a carefree week as kids. In addition, time and attention will befocused on providing opportunities for the children to explore and express their feelingsthrough a nightly program called "cabin chat" where counselors will lead informal discussionsabout topics ranging from the highlights of the day to the effects of cancer on our lives.
The impact of Camp Kesem will extend well beyond one week in the summer. The camp staffwill facilitate ongoing communication between campers, counselors, and families during the year through activities such as reunions and newsletters. In addition, Camp Kesem will provide families with information about local and national resources for families coping with cancer.
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