This is one win for the University of Oregon you probably haven’t heard about. It didn’t happen in the classroom or on the football field.
The Ducks came out on top in a national contest giving some students the chance to host a special summer camp. The children who attend have parents who faced cancer.
Some of their Moms and Dads survived, others didn’t. Camp Kesem is a national organization which supports college students who want to make a difference in young lives.
This year they held an online voting contest for more than 30 colleges who applied to become part of the camp network. U of O finished on top and received funding to begin the project.
Students raised additional money to come up with the necessary $30,000.
They rented camp space at Camp Collins in Gresham and welcomed 32 campers for arts and crafts, campfires and plenty of outdoor activity. Friends Emma and Dana who met at U of O and use the names “Sunshine” and “Peanut” as camp counselors helped to organize the effort.
“The kids can talk about their feelings and know everything they share doesn’t leave the camp. We have to develop that trust,” explained Emma. Emma lost her Mom to breast cancer when she was 5.
Dana’s Mom survived breast cancer.
“I didn’t share my feelings with anyone and I know how hard that makes it,” she said. Each night campers are encouraged to share their feelings during a cabin chat but most of all it’s a week of fun and stress relief.
“It feels good to know other people are just like you,” said an 8 year old camper from Tualatin who lost his Dad to skin cancer.
The first camp was organized by students at Stanford a dozen years ago and now there are more than 30 in the country. Each is run by college students under the name “Kesem,” which is Hebrew for magic.
“My Mom was the most caring person in the world and that is why I want to be as caring as possible for these kids,” said Emma who is already making plans to host even more kids at Oregon’s 2013 edition of Camp Kesem.