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February 22, 2014

Camp Kesem cheers up children of cancer patients

NORMAN — Here, worry takes a backseat, and laughter forms a melodious tune. Here, children can forget the foreign cancer vocabulary, treatment and fear that they are still trying to understand. And here, difficult life experience morphs into emotional understanding and compassion as children realize they are not alone.

The University of Oklahoma chapter of Camp Kesem directors said they hope campers at the week-long, free summer camp embrace being a kid and let go of the weight on their shoulders.

Camp Kesem is a camp for children whose parents have or had cancer. When a parent is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is affected and Camp Kesem attempts to provide support to children so that no child has to face his or her parent’s cancer alone.

The camp began in 2000 and now has 54 chapters across the U.S. This network of free summer camps is run by college students and is for children ages 6 to 16. Camp Kesem representatives said the camp is a place where magic happens and where kids can be free.

This year’s camp will be from July 6-11 at the Central Christian Camp and Conference Center in Guthrie and is themed CK Olympics. The camp plans on welcoming back its original eight campers while growing to 30 total campers with about 15 counselors. The camp is open to children across the state of Oklahoma.

Ekene Ezenwa, Camp Kesem OU co-director, said OU students do everything to put the camp together including fundraising, public relations, planning camp activities and serving as camp counselors.

“Last year was our first, so it was a lot of work, but it was so nice to see all of that hard work pay off,” Ezenwa said.

During the camp, kids are able to be themselves and not think about the stress at home, Ezenwa said.

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