Joining Camp Kesem

Throughout May,10 UC Irvine students have campaigned to bring Camp Kesem, a student-run camp program for children of cancer patients, to UCI. Students have headed publicity on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to gain votes in effort to win $10,000   in funding from The LIVESTRONG Community Impact Project.

Camp Kesem, a university-based summer program, is a weeklong trip for children whose parents have or had cancer and allows them the possibility of enjoying a break from the realities of their home life. Many of these potential campers have experienced their parents’ life with chemotherapy, cancer and even untimely deaths.

UCI student Kenny Azama, a junior social ecology major, took the initiative to be one of the nine main founders of the campaign from a friend, a UCLA student who was a counselor for the camp on the campus.

“A camp like this would thrive at UC Irvine, what with all the big hearts we have down here,” Azama said. “Having a Camp Kesem here at UC Irvine will not only have a huge impact on the lives of children in Orange County but it will also prepare and empower student leaders on campus by allowing them to make a meaningful difference.”

The program began in 2001 with Stanford University as the first host. Since then, 23 universities nationwide have adopted this completely student-run camp permitting over 1,000 children to attend every year.

“Everyone is very interested and excited in having a Camp Kesem here at UCI,” Azama said. “I’m pretty sure most people have always wanted to be a counselor for a children’s camp but have never had that opportunity so we are going to bring that opportunity straight to UCI.”

The LIVESTRONG Community Impact Project is funding $10,000 to the university with the most votes in order to help instigate the camp. Voting for UCI takes place via web at The deadline to vote is May 31.

“I love the character of Camp Kesem and cannot wait until it starts materializing here at UC Irvine,” Justin Hamady, a third-year political science major and interested student in the program said. “I genuinely feel that this camp changes lives and I know that both the campers as well as UC Irvine would benefit greatly from it being on this campus.”

UCI is currently in the running with eight other universities in the west coast vying for the most votes to receive the $10,000 funding.

The initial camp would not be held at UCI but at an American Camp Association (ACA) accredited site. The camp would be open for all UCI students to apply to be camp counselors.

“I know UC Irvine would love to become part of the process of helping children cope with cancer related issues,” Hamady said. “It would be a very humbling and educational experience.”