Camp Kesem Berkeley

Camp Kesem is a college organization designed to provide kids whose parents have or had cancer with a summer camp experience that gives them a chance to be kids and to allow college students to channel their passion for making a difference.

Today, we woke up and ate waffles with whipped cream for breakfast! The teen unit left breakfast to go hiking and swimming at a waterfall. The teen unit swam until lunchtime and had a picnic at the waterfall. The rest of the units had rotations which included go karting, ziplinging, drama, sports and arts and crafts. After lunchtime, we had WATER OLYMPICS! Water olympics was everyone’s favorite activity. We played fun filled games and got soaking wet. There was also face painting, root beer floats and lots of fun prizes! Half-way through water olympics, we had a “free for all” where all of the campers and counselors dumped water on each other. After water olympics, all of the units had an hour of rest time where they changed into dry clothes and took a little break from the always hectic day. After rest time, we had a barbeque! We chose from delicious burgers, hot dogs, and veggie burgers grilled by our very own counselors. After barbeque dinner, we had a jampacked campfire. First, we finished the last episode of Prehistoric Problems. The dinosaurs and cave-people of Jurassic Valley found peace, and agreed on living together in harmony. After the last installment, we had stage night. Campers performed skits with their units, sang along to Taylor Swift and Frozen, performed magic tricks and break danced. After stage night, we had graduation for our oldest camper Kayty as she moves on to the CIT program, and our CIT Scoober who is planning on starting a new Camp Kesem at UC Santa Barbara as he starts as a new freshman this Fall. We then sang “Lean on Me,” went to our cabins, had our final cabin chats and went to sleep thinking about the new friendships and memories we made this week.

We started the day by our daily flag pole routine and sang songs like “Get Loose” and “Sixties Party” to wake up from a good nights sleep. The teens got to sleep in an hour and had their brunch after everyone because tonight they had teen campfire where they went to a different location with a fire to roast s’mores and spend time together. After a delicious breakfast of tatar tots, fruit, scrambled eggs and oatmeal, everyone headed off to their daily rotations. On the sports field, the campers played spud which was a fan favorite. At cooking and science, the campers did experiments with Mentos and diet coke which had very exciting results! These rotations were followed by structured activity time where campers could choose which activity they wanted to do, these included playing soccer, making friendship bracelets, and playing drama games. At this time, there was another activity going on called “Parent Memorial” for campers and counselors who have had a parent pass away. It was a beautiful ceremony where campers could share letters they had written to their parent or a happy memory with them. It was really special for all of those campers to see that they were not alone. This was followed by lunch where campers enjoyed cheesy lasagna, salad, and veggies. After lunch, the whole camp came together for our “Empowerment” ceremony. This is a chance for everyone to share either why they are at Camp Kesem or what Camp Kesem means to them. It was incredible to have campers ages 6-16 all be respectful while everyone shared their experience. Afterwards, the campers got to pick out a stuffed animal that were donated by one of the Leoni Staff members. The campers then headed to rest time to chill out and have some time to snooze. We all gathered again at flagpole before dinner to sing songs. Everyone loved dinner which was fried rice, stir fry veggies and tofu, salad, and fruit, yum! Everyone joined in to sing the spirit song which passed from table to table. “We’ve got spirit, yes we do, we’ve got spirit, how ‘bout you?” Even the Leoni meadows staff joined in! After dinner the teens went to their own “teen campfire” while everyone else headed to campfire where there was a movie projected which was the third Ice Age movie which had dinosaurs in it!!! We drank hot chocolate while laughing at the silliness of the sloth. Everyone became sleepy pretty quickly after such a long and fun day, so after a little while, we all headed to bed to finish off another amazing day of camp!

Moment of the Day:
“To me, Camp Kesem means everlasting friendships.”

We ate breakfast this morning at the campfire stage in some very impressive pajamas for our “pjammin’ breakfast.” Afterwards, we began our morning rotations which were sports, drama, arts and crafts, cooking and science and archery. Next, all campers tye-dyed their prehistoric camp shirts. After getting our hands a little dirty, we ate lunch and then transitioned into our next all-camp activity - the scavenger hunt! At different stations, the campers solved prehistoric riddles and played dinosaur-themed-games. Our afternoon consisted of a lot of swimming - pool time, canoeing and lake time. At the lake, there’s a huge water slide, a “blob” and a rope swing - some of our campers favorite activities. After dinner all of our units took a train ride around Leoni Meadows and sang camp songs which transitioned into s’mores at the campfire stage where the next episode of prehistoric problems was performed. Our units then got ready for bed, participated in cabin chat and finally closed their eyes anticipating tomorrow.

Cute Moment of the Day:

Luna: “A camper was conquering her fear of heights on the climbing wall. When she made it to the top and looked down, she told me later that she HAD to keep going because ‘everyone down there was depending on me!’”

We all started our day at flagpole, which is an open field where the whole camp comes together to wake up by singing songs and playing games. Then we enjoyed a pancake breakfast with sides of ginger bread apple sauce and fruit. Afterwards, each unit went to their different rotations. The rotations today included doing dry ice experiments in cooking and science, playing dinosaur capture the flag in sports, going down the waterside at the lake and the teens (Red unit) did a ropes course to build leadership and communication skills. Everyone loved seeing the campsite and having activities with their new friends. At lunch we ate enchiladas, carrots, celery, and watermelon, which everyone loved! After lunch, units continued their rotations and got to try new activities like the rock wall and zip lining. Since it had been a long day, everyone headed back to their cabins to take a break and get ready for a fun night. At dinner we ate grilled cheese and tomato soup with watermelon and salad with cookies for dessert! Then everyone headed to campfire where we saw the second installment of the camp skit which had everyone laughing. We also played games that were very silly and got everyone in the mood for our next activity. After we headed inside to a huge room where each unit dressed up their counselors in silly outfits and had a fashion show! Shamrock and Shaggy asked all of the counselors and their new found fashion personas questions about things that they liked and questions like if they could combine two animals what would they be. We ended the night with a dance party and everyone had a blast dancing together!!

Cute Moment of the Day:

Counselor: “Have you been to camp before?”
Camper: “This camp is the best thing I have ever done.”

All of our campers’ families and friends came to drop off this morning! After checking in, eating some delicious bagels and muffins, playing games and singing songs, we departed to Leoni Meadows! We watched Ice Age on the busses and finally arrived at everyone’s favorite place, CAMP! After revealing our units - Green, Yellow, Orange, Blue and Red - we settled in with our cabins and then had rotations. The rotations were Arts and Crafts (where we made awesome dinosaur masks and bracelets), Drama, Sports, Go Karts, Climbing Wall, Archery, the Nature Center and Canoeing. The Nature Center is a new program we added this year where the campers go visit the campsites’ natural history museum! There is 7,000 square feet of displays, specimen collections and laboratories with hands-on activities. During rotations, teen unit participated in “Ice Breaker Madness” and they went ziplining! After our awesome rotation, we unpacked and calmed down before dinner and then had our first introduction of the week-long play - Prehistoric Problems. Ooga and Booga struggled to move a large rock, the townspeople of Jurassic Valley discovered dinosaurs and Princess Paleozoic addressed the townspeople about the dinosaurs and other issues in the town! After the skit, Luna and Nike ended up covered in Chocolate Sauce, Spaghetti, Ketchup, Mustard and Cheerios in their “Iron Chef Competition.” After main campfire, we headed back to our cabins. After winding down with our first cabin chat, we turned off the lights excited for Monday!

Cute Moment of the Day:

Blue Unit Camper: “My overall goal was to make friends, but I have already done that on day 1.”

The whole camp met this morning at flagpole very excited for our last day of camp! All the units were able to finish the activities that they had not had the chance to do. After lots of laughter during go-carting, canoeing, and zip lining, everyone headed to a delicious lunch of lasagna! Then came the most exciting all camp activity of the day: Water Olympics!! There was a huge waterslide, a slip-in-slide, lots of fun water games, and face painting. The water games were stations led by counselors and CITs and included a game where music was played and a bucket of water was passed around in a circle, when the music stopped then the person that was holding the bucket would have to pour it on their head! It was a blast to see campers and counselors running around getting everyone wet. At the end of it all, everyone had a giant water fight that got everyone involved. All the campers loved having the chance to throw water balloons at their counselors! After everyone had changed out of their bathing suits, we had an outside BBQ with hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, and baked beans. It was really special to have everyone be eating outside with music playing on such a beautiful night. Finally, we all headed to campfire and had our stage night where any campers that wanted to perform had the chance to get up on the stage. It was amazing to see how brave all the campers were that performed. Campers sang, danced, told jokes, performed skits, and did improv, we have such talented campers and everyone was so supportive of everyone who performed. After everyone had performed, we had a ceremony for our campers and CITs who were graduating which was also really special because Camp Kesem has been such a huge part of their lives. We ended the night by all singing “Lean on Me” and headed to bed to rest up before heading home tomorrow.

We can’t wait to see all you tomorrow and tell you our stories in person!

Moment of the Day:
Claire (after campfire): “You know what I am going to miss Camp Kesem more than I missed my parents that when I was at Camp Kesem”

Shaka: “If you had a Camp Kesem name, what would it be?”
Misa (graduating camper): “I will just have to find out next year.”


Special Guest! Today our blog post of the day is brought to you by the CITs!
This morning started off awesome as usual with a goodmorning wake up call from our amazing admin team! We were alive, awake, alert, and enthusiastic from flagpole to breakfast. After all the units had food in their bellies and were ready to go we all had loads of fun at our morning rotations! This included ziplining through the redwoods, making picture frames at arts and crafts, mentos volcanos at cooking and science, the rock-climbing wall, and a wild game of “props” at drama! Aside from these usual exciting activities, today Kesem also had a new activity this year, “Parent Memorial”. The campers shared their experiences and supported each other so much! Following this, we had one of our most important activities, “Empowerment”. This is a time where all the campers have the opportunity to share about what Camp Kesem means to them and what brought them here. In honor of our empowered Kesem family we had “Luminary”. Luminary showcases the thoughts that the campers presented in “Empowerment”. Lastly, to end the day on a rockin’ note we had the privilege of having an awesome band called “Camplified” play for us! They truly rocked! We all danced and sang together ending the day on such an amazing note while sending our Teen Unit off to their overnight! What a wonderful day! Thank you for being a part of this magical adventure!

Moment of the day:
Avi: “I’ll give you a dollar if you give Cian $10 for the tooth fairy to put under his pillow for his tooth, we have to make sure he still believes in the tooth fairy!”

Everyone was excited to start the morning with P’jammin Breakfast! The whole camp ate breakfast outside while dancing to music. The counselors had a pajama walk off which was very exciting and was a great opportunity for them to show off their onesies. Then all of the units went to their morning rotations which was filled with fun lake time, archery, and dressing up during drama. The time flew by and in no time at all it was lunch! Everyone had a blast eating ravioli and learning new jokes and riddles. After lunch, everyone participated in a camp wide dinosaur scavenger hunt where all the units had to complete different activities in order to receive different parts of a dinosaur fossil. These activities included creating dinosaur habitats, dressing up the counselors as cave people, and jumping over a “river” which was two jump ropes that each round were moved further and further apart, making the river bigger and bigger! After the very successful scavenger hunt and prizes were given out, units finished off their rotations for the day and headed to dinner after rest time. All the campers were excited for the taquito, rice, salad and watermelon dinner. The camp finished off the day with the very exciting activity of the train ride! The train took us around the campground and we got to see the huge meadow, the forest, and we even spotted some dinosaurs in the woods! It was a blast!

Moment of the Day:
Luna: “Do you have friends at school?”
Sally: “I can make friends with almost anyone because I go up to them and say hi, whats your name?”

We started the morning with our traditional flagpole songs and stretching to wake up and get energized for the day! After eating a delicious pancake breakfast, each unit headed off to their rotations. In the cooking and science rotation, campers got to see experiments with dry ice which they loved! Campers got into the groove of the first full day of camp and couldn’t wait to see what the next rotation would be. Everyone enjoyed a festive enchilada lunch where campers learned new games and sang songs. After powering up, each unit headed back out to finish their rotations. It was a beautiful, clear day and the lake and pool time was very refreshing! After rotations, campers got to choose which activities they wanted to attend. These included basketball, games with our CITs (counselor in training), friendship bracelets, and board games. After a long day, each unit headed back to their cabins to have rest time. The amazing Leoni Meadows Staff made pizza for dinner which was a huge hit and was accompanied by salad and watermelon, yum! Finally, the whole whole camp came together to play games at campfire with a special fashion show with counselors dressed by their campers in fabulous outfits. The night ended with a camp dance party which was a perfect way to end the first full day of camp!

Moment of the day:

Monica talking about doing the ropes course with the teens: “I know that with your encouragement and cheering, I can accomplish anything!”

Camp Kesem Berkeley counselors, campers, and parents all gathered early this morning after a year of being apart! Camp games and songs reminded everyone of the wonderful times we have at camp. The campers enjoyed watching the Ice Age movies on the bus which helped to reveal the theme of this year: Camp Before Time! Upon arriving at camp, campers were told the story of Jurassic Valley and each age group was told which dinosaur cabin they would be in this week. Green unit (6-7 years old) are the Tyrannosaurus Rexes, Yellow unit (8-9 years old) are the Velociraptors, Orange unit are the Pterodactyls (10-11 years old), Blue Unit (12-13) are the Brontosauri, and finally Red unit (13-16 years old) are the Triceratops. After unpacking in their cabins, campers headed to their first rotation of the day. These include: cooking and science, sports, drama, arts and crafts, archery. canoeing, rock climbing, and zip lining. We reenergized with a delicious dinner of spaghetti, salad, broccoli, and garlic bread. Finally, we ended the day with a fun camp fire that included a camp skit, songs, and an counselor iron chef competition that utilized ketchup, mustard, pringles, chocolate sauce and cheerios.

Funny moment of the day!
Karina: “Let me tell you a joke. What’s the best thing to pack for camp”
Chip: “What?”
Karina: “The booger thats in your nose”

Stay tuned for more fun to come!!