For the last 4 years, my summer has always kicked off with a week at Camp Kesem, a non-profit that supports kids through and beyond a parent’s cancer. My summers went from playing with kids during the day and talking about cancer when the sun went down to having a 10ish week internship at a corporation. This year, as a college graduate and full-time employee, I had the experience to visit camp for one day on what is known as, ‘Visitor’s Day’.
While driving through the redwood trees and turning to see the campsite, my heart started to smile. I was lucky enough to drive up to the campsite with a dear friend and fellow alumni. We were both beaming to finally be reunited with some of our best friends/counselors and our campers. I spent the day with most of my campers from previous years. I was also able to sit in their Parent Memorial ceremony, which was surreal because I always planned it the previous years. Parent Memorial is a time where the kids can talk about their parent who lost their battle to cancer, share their favorite memories, and any feelings. It was such a special moment. Following the ceremony, I continued the discussion with a few teen campers and counselors. We had a such a great talk — a talk that rejuvenated me, let me get in touch with my feelings, and most importantly gave me an opportunity to be emotionally available for others suffering from the loss of their parent. The day continued with more camper and counselor bonding. My visit was short due to the obligation of having a full day’s work the following day.
My heart is still so happy and full from my visit. I am so happy I had amazing and heartfelt conversations with campers and counselors. It was a great escape from the everyday corporate life and an unforgettable opportunity to reconnect with my values and feelings of grief. Camp Kesem and the cancer community will always hold a special place in my heart. I am so thankful I still have experiences that allow me to be there for others while being there for myself. So many feelings came up that I didn’t even know I had. This taught me that I do need to step back from my busy life at times and to never my forget my cancer story. At the end of the day, it is something that heavily defines who I am, what my values are, and where I see myself in the future. I’m always so thankful for Camp Kesem and for it provides for the cancer community. To donate or learn more about Camp Kesem, visit: http://campkesem.org/.