camp Kesem

Camp Kesem attendees pose with WVU Mountaineer Timmy Eads.

Coming to WVU, a student can expect to be face to face with many opportunities to get involved in whatever piques their interest. With more than 480 clubs and organizations, it can be difficult to sift through them all and make a decision.

There are numerous organizations that offer volunteer experience, including nonprofits, and they can offer more than just something that looks good on a resume. Marking five years of its chapter at WVU is Camp Kesem, a nonprofit summer camp for kids whose parents have cancer.

The camp does arts and crafts, sports and other activities as other camps do, but, unlike the others, Camp Kesem offers additional assistance to these children who may not process or understand their parent’s cancer, and it also offers a feeling of community with others who have the same struggle they do. 

There are two programs they provide during the week, “Cabin Chat” and “Empowerment,” which are aimed at giving campers a chance to talk about their lives and whatever may be bothering them. 

“A lot of them are going through something that most people don’t really understand and that can be really isolating to them. It can cause them to withdraw from their friends at school or just in general,” Camp Kesem director Brady Ohrn said. “We form this really big community and we show them that they’re not going through this alone.”

One could join just for the experience and volunteer hours then end up getting heavily involved, just as Ohrn did after realizing how much it really does for the campers that attend the camp for a week in June.

Any WVU student may volunteer at Camp Kesem or to be a counselor and go to camp, but Ohrn said they are only looking for male counselors at the moment as the ratio of campers to counselors is three-to-one. There is an interview process and counselors must be good with children although the age of campers varies, even going into the teens.

All the services provided for the campers are free of cost and rely on donations and fundraising. There is an upcoming fundraiser for the organization called “Make the Magic” on March 27 at the Erickson Alumni Center, and is open to the public.