The University of Toledo chapter of Camp Kesem will hold a free weeklong camp next month for children whose lives have been impacted by a parent’s cancer diagnosis.
Camp Kesem is a national nonprofit that provides programs and services to children ages 6 to 18 whose parents have or have had cancer. The student-led UToledo chapter was organized in 2020.
Registration for the UToledo camp, which will take place Aug. 7 to 12 at Camp Potawotami in northeast Indiana, is open through July 25.
There is no cost to attend and transportation to and from camp is available. For more information about the camp or to register, email email@example.com.
“Oftentimes, kids affected by a parent’s cancer will feel isolated in their journey and feel that they have to grow up fast,” said Aru Goel, director of the UToledo chapter of Camp Kesem and a 2022 UToledo graduate. “At Kesem, we want to remind them they have a support system and they have people to lean on. And at the end of the day, we want them to remember they’re still kids, they can still have fun and they can let go of that burden when they’re with us.”
Despite all of the campers being personally affected by cancer, the disease is not the central focus of the camp.
While there is designated time set aside for campers to come together and talk about how their parent’s diagnosis has altered their life, for the most part, Camp Kesem operates like any other sleepaway camp — games, arts and crafts, outdoor activities and s’mores by the campfire.
What the camp does allow, Goel said, is the largely unspoken understanding that everyone there is going through the same thing.
“One thing that campers really love is they don’t have to explain what they’re feeling,” Goel said. “The people around them just know. It can be comforting being among those going through similar battles.”