Expanding to Serve More Children Impacted By a Parent's Cancer

Kesem is expanding in order to serve more of the 5+ million children impacted by a parent’s cancer nationwide and we need your help selecting our new chapters!

  • Get to know all of our finalists!
  • Promote them on social media!
  • Vote for your favorites here every day from January 27 - 31!
  • Cheer our winning chapters on February 5!
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Kesem is a nationwide community, driven by passionate college student leaders, that supports children through and beyond their parent's cancer. We are the largest national organization dedicated to supporting children impacted by a parent's cancer, at no cost to families, through innovative and fun-filled programs that provide children with peers who understand their unique needs, and create long-lasting impact. Our flagship program, Camp Kesem, provided free summer camping experiences to over 10,000 children in 2019. Through the efforts of 5,000+ college student leaders at 125 chapters at top colleges across the country, we hope to serve over 12,000 children in 2020.


  • Christopher Newport University

    Get to Know the Students at Christopher Newport University

    We want more than names! Tell us about yourselves! Majors? Hometowns? Fun facts?

    I am a freshman at CNU from Northern Virginia (near Washington D.C.). My major is undeclared, but I am considering pursuing elementary education. Fun facts: I love musical theatre, my camp name is Macaron, and I have an amazing black lab named Isabella.

    Completing an application to start a new Camp Kesem Chapter takes a TON of work. Why is this important to you?

    I was a camper this past summer and it was a truly impactful experience that has changed my life. I was so inspired by the counselors and campers. I want to be there for kids and teens going through similar experiences as I did because a parent's cancer is easier to face when you have caring people by your side who support you. I am extremely passionate about Camp Kesem and hope to build that community at CNU.

    So what's the best thing about going to your school?

    CNU is very welcoming and is full of compassionate, driven students. There is a place for everyone and students go out of their way to make sure one another feel welcome.

    By the way, how many undergrads go to your school? (And what's the one word you would use to describe the Culture/Spirit of your school?)

    (about) 4,857 undergraduate students. One word: Welcoming

    The word "Kesem" means a lot to the thousands of campers, parents and student leaders who have come to know our mission. What does it mean to you?

    To me, "Kesem" means a family of supportive, compassionate people who understand each other. Kesem is inspiring in that it takes something as sad and trying as cancer, and brings out the beauty and joy in it.

    There's a lot of great students (including you!) who are hoping to start a new Camp Kesem chapter. We wish we could accept each and every one of you! So here's your chance to tell the public why you should start a new chapter!:

    CNU has many students who are enthusiastic about the Camp Kesem mission and are eager to make a difference. President Trible encourages students to "set the world on fire," and the drive and dedication to serving the community set CNU captains apart. While there are over 250 clubs and organizations at CNU, Camp Kesem would be a truly invaluable addition to campus culture and to the community, as cancer affects many families in the Newport News community.

    Chapter Location and Applicant Names

    Newport News, VA | Graciela Greger

  • Emerson College

    Get to Know the Students at Emerson College

    We want more than names! Tell us about yourselves! Majors? Hometowns? Fun facts?

    I’m from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I am majoring in Design/Technology .

    Completing an application to start a new Camp Kesem Chapter takes a TON of work. Why is this important to you?

    Camp Kesem Emerson is important to me because I believe we can create a new chapter for as many new campers as we can that shows them love and support.

    Chapter Location and Applicant Names

    Boston, MA | Kate Doherty

    So what's the best thing about going to your school?

    The best part of going to Emerson is how inclusive everyone is. Here at Emerson each student is encouraged to be exactly who they want to be and are supported like i’ve never seen before.

    By the way, how many undergrads go to your school? (And what's the one word you would use to describe the Culture/Spirit of your school?)

    3,855 undergrads go to Emerson and I would describe each one of them as Creative.

    The word "Kesem" means a lot to the thousands of campers, parents and student leaders who have come to know our mission. What does it mean to you?

    Kesem to me means community. It means love and support from those who have been directly or indirectly affected by cancer just like you.

    There's a lot of great students (including you!) who are hoping to start a new Camp Kesem chapter. We wish we could accept each and every one of you! So here's your chance to tell the public why you should start a new chapter!:

    Voters should vote for Camp Kesem Emerson because of our determination, our creativity, and our drive. We as volunteers are committed to making sure our future campers have the support they need and the most fun possible.

  • Florida International University

    Get to Know the Students at Florida International University

    Completing an application to start a new Camp Kesem Chapter takes a TON of work. Why is this important to you?

    Volunteering at the Miami Cancer Institute has shown the importance of having a support system. I would love to welcome this opportunity to my community! Having family members who have cancer has shown me the significance of having people there for you who can get you through the difficult moments.

    We want more than names! Tell us about yourselves! Majors? Hometowns? Fun facts?

    Hi all! I’m Melissa and I am a Biomedical Engineering Major, born and raised in Miami. I love to travel and rescue animals. I’m Tarah and I’m a Psychology major. I was also born and raised in Miami. A fun fact about me is that I can speak four languages.

    So what's the best thing about going to your school?

    Being in the heart of Miami, our school allows for a vast range of activities and opportunities beyond academics that unite our community.

    By the way, how many undergrads go to your school? (And what's the one word you would use to describe the Culture/Spirit of your school?)

    There are 48,439 undergraduate students in our university One word that describes FIU is diversity.

    The word "Kesem" means a lot to the thousands of campers, parents and student leaders who have come to know our mission. What does it mean to you?

    Kesem, to us, is a symbol of hope. It signifies how having even one person who believes in you and is there for you makes all the difference. It allows for the spread of kindness and unity. It means no one gets left behind and everyone gets an opportunity to be treated beyond their illness. This will provide an everlasting bridge between all types of people and create unforgettable memories.

    There's a lot of great students (including you!) who are hoping to start a new Camp Kesem chapter. We wish we could accept each and every one of you! So here's your chance to tell the public why you should start a new chapter!:

    Our community is surrounded by various underrepresented populations that have no idea these programs are available for them. Camp Kesem would be an escape, not only for us, but for the children that feel alone and not understood during this difficult time. They’ll be able to find a friend no matter the direction they look in with our future volunteers and counselors.

    Chapter Location and Applicant Names

    Miami, FL |

  • North Dakota State University

    Get to Know the Students at North Dakota State University

    We want more than names! Tell us about yourselves! Majors? Hometowns? Fun facts?

    My name is Carl Ludewig I am a sophomore at NDSU majoring in geology and I am involved with the marching band here as well as our student government. I am from a samll town south of the cities called Northfield and am really excited to continue this Kesem journey.

    Completing an application to start a new Camp Kesem Chapter takes a TON of work. Why is this important to you?

    The reason that this is important for me is I've seen the positive impact that this camp can make on children's lives and seen how a community can get together to do something magical and every time that i get to share about Kesem and here them get excited makes me even more excited about being able to give back to these children in need.

    So what's the best thing about going to your school?

    The best part about going to NDSU is all of the opportunities it has for students to get involved during the 4 years they have here. We area student focused university and that is not an understatement when it comes to getting a chance to lead and doing something bigger then yourself

    By the way, how many undergrads go to your school? (And what's the one word you would use to describe the Culture/Spirit of your school?)

    About 10,000 and I would say "determined."

    The word "Kesem" means a lot to the thousands of campers, parents and student leaders who have come to know our mission. What does it mean to you?

    The word Kesem, to me means opportunity. Kesem provides to much for these kids and even for the college students that help run the camps across the country. It gives kids the opportunity to grow and learn more about themselves and to have a support system and for once to forget about their parents cancer and just be kids. Kesem provides to much for so many and I hope I get the chance to be a part of it.

    There's a lot of great students (including you!) who are hoping to start a new Camp Kesem chapter. We wish we could accept each and every one of you! So here's your chance to tell the public why you should start a new chapter!:

    The reason that you should vote for NDSU is that this is a place that is super excited about this opportunity. The more that I have gone and talked with people the more excited they get . This is also a state that could benefit immensely from it seeing that there is not a chapter in the state. Our school has so many wonderful students that are willing and suited to be counselors or on the executive team and I can only see a chapter flourishing here. Vote NDSU!

    Chapter Location and Applicant Names

    Fargo, ND | Carl Ludewig

  • San Jose State University

    Get to Know the Students at San Jose State University

    We want more than names! Tell us about yourselves! Majors? Hometowns? Fun facts?

    My name is Sam Royal and I am from Los Angeles (more specifically the San Fernando Valley). I'm currently a psychology major in hopes of becoming a child therapist. I love music, skateboarding, and sunshine. Lastly, my family recently adopted a beautiful pitbull puppy named Penny.

    Completing an application to start a new Camp Kesem Chapter takes a TON of work. Why is this important to you?

    This work is important to me for two reasons, one of which is my father. My dad has struggled with cancer throughout my entire life, and having Kesem could've taken an unimaginable weight off his shoulders. Lastly, I want a community at San Jose State that I can call home.

    So what's the best thing about going to your school?

    The best part about SJSU is community. There are thousands of people here from many different backgrounds. I have grown exponentially from my time here.

    By the way, how many undergrads go to your school? (And what's the one word you would use to describe the Culture/Spirit of your school?)

    There are 27,327 undergrads. One word to describe the culture: determined.

    The word "Kesem" means a lot to the thousands of campers, parents and student leaders who have come to know our mission. What does it mean to you?

    To me, "Kesem" means hope and a sign of good things to come. I started this application process in search of a community at my school, and I have already found so much more. I have met so many amazing passionate people that have made my life so much more full. Kesem has already changed my life, and the chapter hasn't even started yet.

    There's a lot of great students (including you!) who are hoping to start a new Camp Kesem chapter. We wish we could accept each and every one of you! So here's your chance to tell the public why you should start a new chapter!:

    San Jose has an extremely diverse outreach. Not only is San Jose the largest city in the bay area, it reaches so many people from so many different socioeconomic backgrounds. There is so much opportunity here to help those in need of a cost free support system that can assist their family in navigating such a difficult time. Kesem could bring the resources and support that the south bay needs.

    Chapter Location and Applicant Names

    San Jose, CA | Sam Royal

  • University of Connecticut

    Get to Know the Students at University of Connecticut

    We want more than names! Tell us about yourselves! Majors? Hometowns? Fun facts?

    I'm a native of Willimantic, Connecticut double majoring in Political Science and Philosophy! I'm a former Kesem Camper of four years at the Chestnut Hill Chapter.

    Completing an application to start a new Camp Kesem Chapter takes a TON of work. Why is this important to you?

    I feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to be a Kesem Camper which fundamentally changed my life. Being a Native to this part of the state, I see it as my duty to bring the same life changing services to local children who need it.

    So what's the best thing about going to your school?

    The diverse and passionate student body and the desire to make a positive impact in the world.

    By the way, how many undergrads go to your school? (And what's the one word you would use to describe the Culture/Spirit of your school?)

    The Storrs Campus has 19,000 undergrads and that's only one of four campuses.

    The word "Kesem" means a lot to the thousands of campers, parents and student leaders who have come to know our mission. What does it mean to you?

    Unconditional love and acceptance. Everyone's story with cancer is different and that's completely natural. We grow as a society when we become more empathetic and understanding. This organization is a powerful vessel through which we can spread this love.

    There's a lot of great students (including you!) who are hoping to start a new Camp Kesem chapter. We wish we could accept each and every one of you! So here's your chance to tell the public why you should start a new chapter!:

    Kesem was there for my when my mother fought and eventually passed away from her stage four stomach cancer and gave me a second chance at life when I felt as if I didn't have much going for me. It taught me the value of community and I see the potential to incorporate that acceptance and love at UConn because it's already here.

    Chapter Location and Applicant Names

    Mansfield, CT | Nathan Perez-Espitia

  • University of Mississippi

    Get to Know the Students at University of Mississippi

    We want more than names! Tell us about yourselves! Majors? Hometowns? Fun facts?

    Majoring in Integrated Marketing and Communications at Ole Miss is the path I am on now to see where it takes me and who I can help along the way. I am from Jackson, Michigan and grew up in a supportive community with two older sisters and a younger sister.

    Completing an application to start a new Camp Kesem Chapter takes a TON of work. Why is this important to you?

    After a push from my siblings, I finally attended camp when I was 18 and I regret not going sooner. This camp truly brings magic to life. Any child impacted by their parent's cancer should have the option of attending this camp that brings a loving, second family.

    So what's the best thing about going to your school?

    I had never seen a family environment within a university and once I felt it, I wanted to be included and help it continue.

    By the way, how many undergrads go to your school? (And what's the one word you would use to describe the Culture/Spirit of your school?)

    United is the word I think of the 18,007 undergraduate students.

    The word "Kesem" means a lot to the thousands of campers, parents and student leaders who have come to know our mission. What does it mean to you?

    Kesem is hope. After camp, I realized there is more to feel than sadness when thinking about cancer. Never would I have thought the pain of losing my mother would be remotely healed. Camp Kesem showed me endless joy and love while allowing sadness. The feeling I have when thinking about my Kesem family is irreplaceable making me passionate about bringing that feeling into other lives.

    There's a lot of great students (including you!) who are hoping to start a new Camp Kesem chapter. We wish we could accept each and every one of you! So here's your chance to tell the public why you should start a new chapter!:

    With only one, new Kesem chapter in Mississippi, gaining a chapter at Ole Miss will not only help those needing Kesem in our community, but those in the bordering states. Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas only have one chapter in locations separated from northern Mississippi. I believe Camp Kesem at Ole Miss would allow our students to unite with Oxford members benefitting many in all surrounding communities.

    Chapter Location and Applicant Names

    Oxford, MS | Catherine Fries

  • University of Nevada, Reno

    Get to Know the Students at University of Nevada, Reno

    We want more than names! Tell us about yourselves! Majors? Hometowns? Fun facts?

    Beau Oster: I am a first-year student at the University of Nevada studying Neuroscience. Born and raised in Northern Nevada, from Zephyr Cove to Carson City to Reno this has been my community since 2001. In my free time, I like hiking, working out, and traveling.

    Completing an application to start a new Camp Kesem Chapter takes a TON of work. Why is this important to you?

    Autena Asefirad: Camp Kesem is so important to me because I understand the mission firsthand. My dad passed from cancer when I was 15, and I am just now realizing the mental and emotional burden that can have on a child’s development. We need to support these kids!

    So what's the best thing about going to your school?

    Autena Asefirad: We are a tight-knit community. The school always comes together at critical times, a testament to how passionate of a community we have.

    By the way, how many undergrads go to your school? (And what's the one word you would use to describe the Culture/Spirit of your school?)

    Matthew Thomas: 18,000 - We are a "pack", closer to one another than even a family.

    There's a lot of great students (including you!) who are hoping to start a new Camp Kesem chapter. We wish we could accept each and every one of you! So here's your chance to tell the public why you should start a new chapter!:

    Beau Oster: We can make an impact, our Camp Kesem would serve all of Northern Nevada, as well as parts of North-Eastern California. Bridging a gap that contains over 400,000 families. The strength of the wolf is the pack, and the strength of the pack is the wolf; family is everything at our University, and Kesem is a family. It's time to for the Pack to run with the kids!

    Chapter Location and Applicant Names

    Reno, NV | Beau Oster, Autena Asefirad, Matthew Thomas, and Adam Thomas

    The word "Kesem" means a lot to the thousands of campers, parents and student leaders who have come to know our mission. What does it mean to you?

    Matthew Thomas & Adam Thomas: Being a twin means you always have someone there to talk to about seemingly whatever, and we realize that kids aren't that lucky to have someone with this special connection, but after a week of Camp Kesem, we've seen people act towards each other, the same way I act with my brother, from originally being total strangers. Kesem means family, but seemingly closer than a family too.

  • University of South Carolina

    Get to Know the Students at University of South Carolina

    Chapter Location and Applicant Names

    Columbia, SC | Kenan Delbridge

    We want more than names! Tell us about yourselves! Majors? Hometowns? Fun facts?

    I am a Biology major with a Medical Humanities minor. I am also pre-med! I am from Raleigh, NC. Fun fact is that I have done mission work overseas in Paris, Guatemala, and Zambia! I love to travel and experience new cultures.

    Completing an application to start a new Camp Kesem Chapter takes a TON of work. Why is this important to you?

    This is important to me because I lost my father to stage four brain cancer at the age of twelve. Thanks to the support of so many friends, families, and local organizations I was able to overcome this loss and use my experiences to help and serve others!

    So what's the best thing about going to your school?

    The unity of all types of people working together to find and pursue their passion inspires me everyday and makes me love being a gamecock.

    By the way, how many undergrads go to your school? (And what's the one word you would use to describe the Culture/Spirit of your school?)

    Almost 28,000. Optimistic.

    The word "Kesem" means a lot to the thousands of campers, parents and student leaders who have come to know our mission. What does it mean to you?

    Camp Kesem provides a safe heaven for kids who have suffered traumatic loss and allows them to experience love and passion from so many people. For many kids this is the only support system they will have while going through a period of grief. Camp Kesem allows them to understand that they are loved and have the support of their community behind them.

    There's a lot of great students (including you!) who are hoping to start a new Camp Kesem chapter. We wish we could accept each and every one of you! So here's your chance to tell the public why you should start a new chapter!:

    I believe I am the best fit to lead this organization due to my passion an experiences with Camp Kesem. Seeing my older brother contribute to camp Kesem over the past two years has greatly influenced me to get a chapter started here at the University of South Carolina. I understand the commitment it takes to lead an organization and will give it my all to make this chapter grow and flourish.

  • University of Toledo

    Get to Know the Students at University of Toledo

    We want more than names! Tell us about yourselves! Majors? Hometowns? Fun facts?

    Hey there! My name is Rachel George, and my Camp Kesem Ohio State camp name is Tree Frog. I am from Cleveland and I am majoring in Nursing. A fun fact is that I have been playing oboe for almost 10 years now, and have even performed at Severance Hall! Hello! My name is Morgan Zickes, but I also go by Honey Badger at Camp Kesem Notre Dame which I attended for 6 years. I am from Toledo and am majoring in Political Science. A fun fact about me is that I want to be a Senator someday!

    Completing an application to start a new Camp Kesem Chapter takes a TON of work. Why is this important to you?

    Trying to start a Camp Kesem chapter is incredibly important to us because as children we both witnessed firsthand the unimaginable pain of watching a parent fight cancer. But we have also witnessed firsthand the indescribable impact Camp Kesem has. We want nothing more than to help Camp Kesem reach more children.

    So what's the best thing about going to your school?

    The best part about attending a school like UT is the diversity of thought, life experiences, and strengths of the students. There are people with various backgrounds who all find a place at UT.

    By the way, how many undergrads go to your school? (And what's the one word you would use to describe the Culture/Spirit of your school?)

    Toledo has over 20,000 undergraduate students. In one word UT is: Dynamic

    The word "Kesem" means a lot to the thousands of campers, parents and student leaders who have come to know our mission. What does it mean to you?

    “Kesem” means support. At the end of camp, these children still have to go back to their parent’s cancer. The only thing worse than watching a parent battle cancer is doing it alone. Camp Kesem creates a support system of people who deeply understand what you are going through and wish to walk with you through it. During those times of uncertainty, that means the world.

    There's a lot of great students (including you!) who are hoping to start a new Camp Kesem chapter. We wish we could accept each and every one of you! So here's your chance to tell the public why you should start a new chapter!:

    The University of Toledo has everything it needs to support a thriving Camp Kesem chapter: A diverse and active student body, a strong community, and many resources for outreach and funding. Families in our area lack access to support programs; virtually none for children coping with a parent’s cancer. In 2012, Morgan’s dad was diagnosed and her family was searching for support groups for her and her brothers in Toledo. There were few at the time, and little has changed. The need for Kesem in the Toledo area is great. We want to pay it forward and give more families Kesem.

    Chapter Location and Applicant Names

    Toledo, OH | Morgan Zickes and Rachel George

  • Virginia Tech

    Get to Know the Students at Virginia Tech

    We want more than names! Tell us about yourselves! Majors? Hometowns? Fun facts?

    My name is Caroline and I’m from Alexandria, VA! I study Environmental Science and I love trees – my favorite is the Ginkgo tree! Julian is from Williamsburg, VA and studies engineering. He is in the Air Force ROTC and aspires to be in Air Force Special Operations!

    Completing an application to start a new Camp Kesem Chapter takes a TON of work. Why is this important to you?

    As Virginia Tech students, we live by our motto, Ut Prosim (“That I May Serve”). We embody Ut Prosim by participating in anything from a large-scale volunteering commitment to an everyday small act of kindness. Our dedication to service is what makes opportunities like Camp Kesem so important to us!

    So what's the best thing about going to your school?

    Campus! We love the sense of home that landmarks like the Pylons, Drillfield, and Duck Pond provide, plus our buildings are built from Hokie Stone!

    By the way, how many undergrads go to your school? (And what's the one word you would use to describe the Culture/Spirit of your school?)

    26,000. Our school culture can be described by Ut Prosim!

    The word "Kesem" means a lot to the thousands of campers, parents and student leaders who have come to know our mission. What does it mean to you?

    “Kesem” to us means home. When we thought we were alone, Camp provided us with a support system of kids and mentors that we could truly call our family. Everyone is connected by something so raw and so scary, yet so special. Camp Kesem is a safe place to just be a kid again. Whenever we return to Camp Kesem, we know that we are coming home to our family.

    There's a lot of great students (including you!) who are hoping to start a new Camp Kesem chapter. We wish we could accept each and every one of you! So here's your chance to tell the public why you should start a new chapter!:

    Location, location, location! Blacksburg is located in the heart of Southwest Virginia, a region where the closest Camp Kesem is over 100 miles away. To us, the Expansion Campaign means giving as many kids the same life-changing experiences that we had. Not only are we in the perfect place to achieve this, but we are a big school, meaning we have a lot of resources and a lot of heart!

    Chapter Location and Applicant Names

    Blacksburg, VA | Caroline Bowman and Julian Montes Martinez

  • Western Carolina University

    Get to Know the Students at Western Carolina University

    Completing an application to start a new Camp Kesem Chapter takes a TON of work. Why is this important to you?

    When I was young I lost my cousin to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and my grand-mother to Lung Cancer. Two very important people in my life were gone much too soon. I believe that no one should experience losing a loved one alone.

    Chapter Location and Applicant Names

    Cullowhee, NC | Kyle Meng

    We want more than names! Tell us about yourselves! Majors? Hometowns? Fun facts?

    I am a freshman from Roswell, Georgia. I am double majoring in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. I enjoy hiking, fishing, and rock climbing in my free time. In past years I have supported the Camp Kesem UGA chapter and I aspire to start my own chapter.

    So what's the best thing about going to your school?

    At Western Carolina the community supports the students in achieving their goals. Everyone works together to help grow the school and the relationships we form.

    By the way, how many undergrads go to your school? (And what's the one word you would use to describe the Culture/Spirit of your school?)

    There are over 10,000 undergraduate students at Western Carolina. We are devoted.

    The word "Kesem" means a lot to the thousands of campers, parents and student leaders who have come to know our mission. What does it mean to you?

    To me the word “Kesem” means family. Whether you are a student leader, camper, or parent Kesem is a family. We are here to support and help each other like a family does. We can laugh and cry together through the good and the bad times. Kesem is a place where you feel loved and understood. As a family we will always be there for each other no matter what.

    There's a lot of great students (including you!) who are hoping to start a new Camp Kesem chapter. We wish we could accept each and every one of you! So here's your chance to tell the public why you should start a new chapter!:

    The Camp Kesem community at WCU has grown from just me to a family of students over just one semester. We have built a name for ourselves because Kesem is important to us. Every student involved has shown initiative to ensure that our chapter succeeds. We have the support of multiple cancer centers and other Kesem chapters. We are ready for the life-changing, magical experience that is Kesem.

A child's friend through and beyond
a parent's cancer.®