MSU students provide free camp for kids affected by cancer
Driven college students are running a nonprofit summer camp for children whose parents have been diagnosed with cancer.
Camp Kesem is a national organization with approximately 85 chapters throughout the country. The MSU chapter sent 120 kids to camp last year and will be sending 150 this year.
The student-run organization meets biweekly throughout the year to make sure the camp is as successful as it can be come summer time.
“There’s a huge base of people that have been affected by cancer,” Peter Butkovich, a long-time member of the MSU chapter, said. “I was a counselor in the green unit, which was the 12 to 13 year olds, and it was the night of empowerment where if the kids want to talk about how their parents’ cancer has affected their lives, they can.
"One of the boys in my group started talking and his sister just ran up and gave him the biggest hug and he just held her saying, ‘Everything was going to be fine.’ And that right there was why I personally am so invested in the organization.”
Students volunteer their time to help plan the camp throughout the school year and then can take on the role of being counselors in the summer. The camp is about a week long and offers many activities for kids to take their mind off of their parents' cancer as best they can.
The camp is free of charge for the children attending. The organization holds fundraisers throughout the year, receives donations and applies for grants to make sure the camps can take place.
Children who attend the camp might be inspired to the point where they join the organization once they reach college, which is exactly what education senior Haley Gumenick did. In high school, Gumenick attended Camp Kesem because her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I started out as a camper and then when I got to college I got involved, and then I got on e-board and then I became director,” Gumenick said.
Gumenick said she stayed with the program because it impacted her so much.
"Kesem is really different from everything else," she said. "All of our kids are really amazing and so strong. They're the kids who would come up to you if you're crying, saying, 'It's OK, you're going to be OK.'"
This year the club is putting together two camps at Mystic Lake in Michigan: one in July and one in August.