Make the Magic

Saturday, July 19, 2014

About three weeks ago, I got a phone call from a neighbor looking to see if I would be interested in being a camp counselor for Kesem. I didn't think anything of it-- I was in the process of moving and getting ready for my mission and I didn't think I'd have time to do it. The next week, after a ward trip to Manti to see the pageant, my cute friend Lindsey explained that they were still desperately in need of two female counselors for camp the following week. In a spur of the moment decision-- I told her I would do it, I would go.

I moved out of my house on the 4th of July and drove to Camp Wapiti in Tooele that Sunday. Lucky me, I was rear-ended on the way there and went through camp with a lot of neck soreness. Boo.

For those of you who don't know, Camp Kesem is a camp for children whose parents have cancer. Their goals are to provide children affected by a parent’s cancer with a supportive, lifelong camp community that recognizes and understands their unique needs and to empower college students to make a difference and build invaluable leadership skills by developing and managing every aspect of their Camp Kesem chapter.

 I was able to be a cabin counselor during this amazing week. I had eight girls that I got to supervise in the cabins at night, and talk to them about their lives, what they're going through, what their fears are. I got to play games, throw paint, squish spiders (ew), run through the rain at 11:30 at night. I had one of the younger girls grab my hand after messily going to the bathroom. I have never laughed so hard in my entire life.

One of the fun parts of camp is that no one goes by their real names. You pick a nickname (counselors included!) and that's what you go by all of camp. My nickname was NASA, because of my model rocket stuff. It psyched me out every time someone would say that because a) it was so AWESOME and b) I am not used to being called NASA ahahahaha.

I will tell you one thing. I understand now why I couldn't go earlier than now to the MTC even though I was ready. I'm leaving in August and not June because I needed to be at that camp and have those experiences. It was amazing and I totally understand now why I needed to leave later. I needed to be able to touch those kids' hearts and help them get through things that they're going through, and that's why I had to be here right now at this exact moment. And if I had put my papers in in January, I would have left a lot earlier and I wouldn't have been able to be there for these kids and make friends with the counselors and learn the things I did.

These kids are some of the most inspiring people I have ever met. I can't even imagine the pain, the anguish, the emotional rollercoasters they go through on a daily basis. These kids are so amazing and such an example to me. Somehow, despite all the heartache that goes on in their lives, they can keep smiling. Camp helps them be a kid. It helps them to get away- not to forget, per se, but it puts them in an environment where everyone surrounding them understands what they're going through. It's a friendly reminder that they are not alone. And that they're still kids, and it's okay for them to laugh, to smile and giggle and have fun. Because they're just kids after all.

If you are interested in learning more about what we do at Camp Kesem, or want to donate to help camps happen in the future, please feel free to visit our SUU Camp Kesem website. All donations go towards camp purposes and helping SUU continue these camps. The more we fundraise and the more donations we get, the more kids we can let into camp, and the more funds we have for these kids during camp.

** For privacy reasons, I can't post any photos of camp that contain kids. If you want to see more pictures or our weeklong slideshow, you can visit and "like" our Facebook page.