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Camp Kesem, for children of cancer patients, now taking applications

Camp Kesem is a free, week-long overnight summer camp for children of cancer patients. The camp is July 17-22 at Camp Dream in Warm Springs, Ga.

The camp is open to the first 45 applicants on a first-come, first serve basis. The camp will balance for gender and age. It's open for ages 6-16.

Camp Kesem is organized by Emory University student volunteers under the guidance of its Advisory Committee of local professionals and Camp Kesem National, its parent organization. Emory University students serve as counselors and undergo more than 30 hours of extensive training prior to camp.

The Camp Kesem program model was founded in 2000 at Stanford University in California. It has since gained a national presence, with camps at more than 20 college campuses.

Campers participate in a host of activities including sports, drama, arts and crafts, team-building, scavenger hunts and talent shows. In addition, each night before bed, the campers have “Cabin Chat,” a time for the campers to talk and open up to their peers and counselors.

Children who have a parent who has or had cancer often lack sufficient external support because they are neither physically ill nor visibly distinct from others, according to a media release. The complexity of emotions they experience can easily go without attention. It is often challenging for these children to find peers with whom they can relate, resulting in feelings of isolation and fear.

Kesem advisor, Michael Amylon, M.D., pediatric oncologist at Stanford Hospital emphasized the importance of an experience like Kesem.

“These kids have their world knocked right out from under them, and often they have no where to turn to get help and support," he said in a statement.

"Camp Kesem provides a magical place of respite and play, and a group of other kids in the same situation who understand what it's all about and can offer unique and important peer understanding and friendship.”

For camper applications and more information on Camp Kesem at Camp Dream please visit www.campkesem.org/emory or e-mail emory@campkesem.org

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