Camp Kesem announced on Wednesday, Feb. 6 that Miami University won one of the top five spots in a nationwide vote for a chapter expansion. The camp is slated to open in Oxford in the summer of 2020. Forty thousand dollars must be raised by students in order for the camp to open on time.

Camp Kesem is a national organization that provides support to children whose parents have been affected by cancer at no required cost.

According to the Camp Kesem website, over nine thousand children participated in Camp Kesem chapters across the country, and five thousand college students volunteered at over one hundred Camp Kesem chapters across the United States this past summer.

“The next step is for the students to both raise the funds to start the camp next summer and train students to be camp counselors,” said Anne Roma, a family science and social work (FSW) professor who headed the campaign to bring Camp Kesem to Miami.

“These funds will be raised through donations and various fundraising activities.” said Makenna Linkey, a freshman student who was also involved in the process to bring Camp Kesem to Miami.

The Camp Kesem Miami University chapter has a page set up on The Hub, and students in the organization will be tasked with raising further awareness about the chapter and raising the needed funds for the camp to open in the summer of 2020.

“Currently we do not have a specific time and place set up for meetings, but that information will be coming soon,” said Linkey.

“Students did the work (of raising awareness) by both using social media and the old way of passing out flyers,”  Roma said. “We had a pretty wide network of interested people before starting, but a ton of people helped. Faculty, especially FSW faculty, made announcements in their classes, and people posted the request to vote on their social media. Lots of friends and family helped in the same way too.”

Miami’s Camp Kesem chapter president and sophomore Devin Bussell worked diligently to spread the word.

“Personally, I created a Facebook event and made it public and added 500 people so that they would get notified each day to vote,” Bussell said. “My family was my biggest support system with voting. Other students reached out to their professors and student organizations which was also extremely helpful.”

“It costs around $1,000 to send one camper to camp, so our huge next step is fundraising,” Bussell added.

Student volunteers at Camp Kesem chapters fundraise and plan year-round for their main week-long program: a summer camp where kids participate in activities and are given support and guidance to deal with their parent’s cancer.

Auburn University, Denison University, Mississippi State University and Montana State University-Bozeman also won chapters at their colleges.

Several universities that either did not win or were not included in the original vote gained chapters due to donations made to Camp Kesem, including  Bellarmine University, University of California-Riverside, New York University and California State University-Sacramento.

Camp Kesem was founded at Stanford University in 2000 by Iris Rave Wedeking as a project of Stanford’s Hillel organization. It has since expanded to 116 chapters in 42 states, not including the new chapters listed above.

To volunteer as a counselor at Miami University’s Camp Kesem chapter, contact Anne Roma at CampKesemMiamiU@gmail.com

elghazoa@miamioh.edu

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