Camp Kesem comes to Mason

Program for children whose parents suffer from cancer to arrive in Summer 2018




After attending Camp Kesem, a summer camp for children whose parents have or had cancer, freshman Clare Yordy made it her mission to bring Camp Kesem to Mason.

Camp Kesem is a nationally-recognized organization that operates free summer camps across the country for youth who have been affected by the cancer of a parent. The organization has helped over 20,000 children since 2010, and with its expansion to nine new campuses, they expect their impact will continue to grow.

This organization’s camps are unique in that they are run entirely by college students on campuses around the country. There are over 90 Camp Kesem chapters, including Duke University, Harvard University and the University of California Los Angeles. These camps are free of charge to the students and are operated by volunteers.

Mason has just joined their ranks, and students have an opportunity to get involved in a weeklong overnight camp at the inaugural opening in the summer of 2018. Recruiting for counselors and a leadership team will begin in the fall of 2017, Yordy said.

Camp Kesem is very important to all who attend, including Yordy, who was insistent on giving back to the program.

“I went to the UVA Camp Kesem, and the campers and counselors there are basically a second family to me. Camp Kesem gave me a place where I wasn’t alone and where I could just have fun,” Yordy said.

She hopes that the Camp Kesem hosted through Mason will be as successful and impactful to campers as her past experience was. Yordy also hopes that students at Mason will get involved, learn more about the organization and commit to helping the children for summers to come.

But getting Camp Kesem to Mason was no easy feat: there was a voting competition where Mason was up against multiple other schools fighting for a spot to host the camp, Yordy said. Yordy got the word out about the competition by going into lecture halls and urging classrooms of hundreds of students to vote. She also started a Facebook campaign that was shared around the community. Ultimately, Mason secured a spot, along with eight other schools, which will increase Camp Kesem’s outreach to a total of more than 5 million affected children.

When asked how the Mason community contributed to bringing Camp Kesem on campus, Yordy said, “The Mason community was incredibly helpful during the voting campaign. I needed help getting votes, and both students and faculty helped spread the word and get enough votes for a camp. The determination and all around helpfulness of the Mason community also made me realize that GMU is the perfect place for a Camp Kesem.”

Yordy said that fundraisers will be held at Mason and around the Northern Virginia community to raise enough money to operate the camp in the future. More updates will be released as plans for the camp in 2018 begin to fall into place.