What is Camp Kesem?
Camp Kesem is a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting children through and beyond a parent's cancer. The organization is operated through 62 collegiate chapters across the country, that provide a FREE summer camp experience for these children, in addition to year long support. Camp Kesem was brought to UGA by Alpha Chi Omega alumnae Jess Valle and Jenna Barnett in 2011. In their first summer, Camp Kesem served 12 campers. Now, rounding out its fourth summer, Camp Kesem served 100 campers this June.
Why is it important to Alpha Chi Omega?
"Alpha Chis have been in leadership roles for Camp Kesem UGA since its beginning. Shelby Staratt and myself served as the Co-Directors in 2014-2015, and because of that, we were able to share the message and mission of CK, and encourage others to get involved. Watching our friends and fellow sisters having fun and making a difference in the lives of our campers is so amazing. These girls are so selfless and generous with their time and energy. They genuinely love the kids and it shows in everything that they do. I'm thankful for them and thankful for Camp Kesem for making a huge difference in my life.
As Alpha Chi Omegas, I think we are always trying to grow and better ourselves. That's who we are. We try to aim high, and to aim true. And so many of us have found that through older sisters, with Camp Kesem. I'm forever thankful for AXO for leading me and so many others to this awesome cause, and one that is so close to our hearts." -Carrie Clemens
In celebration of Camp Kesem's amazing success this year, we're highlighting five of our very own who have gone above and beyond in their involvement. Read below to hear all about their experience in being a part of Camp Kesem together:
Name: Hailey Gatins
Hometown: Johns Creek, GA
What's the best part about being involved in Camp Kesem?: While sitting at lunch one day with a camper, I asked her how excited and happy she was to be at camp. This sweet 9 year old responded by saying, "With Camp Kesem, I have enough happiness to last me a lifetime." Hearing these words was the moment I realized what an impact this organization has on these kids. They are so inspirational, and I feel so lucky to be a part of their lives."
Why Alpha Chi?: AXO is full of incredibly genuine, driven, fun, and smart girls. Each girl is unique in her own way and is not only accepted- but is praised and loved for being herself. These girls are lifetime friends who will stick by you and build you up no matter what. I have found my home in AXO.
Major: Biology and Psychology
Best part about being involved with Camp Kesem: You get to help the kids forge lifelong support systems. You get to make them smile and smile with them for an entire week. You get to make them smile and smile with them for an entire week.
Why Alpha Chi?: I'm an Alpha Chi because these girls are so inspired to make a difference and serve others.
Name: Libby Hartline
Major: Exercise and Sport Science
How did you get involved with Camp Kesem?: I heard about Camp Kesem through the lovely AXOs who were on Camp Kesem's executive board. I went to the first meeting and fell in love with their mission!
Favorite memory from CK: It's hard to pick a favorite memory from camp because the entire week was absolutely incredible, but I would have to say messy Olympics was one of the best parts. It was amazing completely cutting loose and experiencing pure joy with the kids. It may have taken me four showers to get the orange paint out of my hair, but it was so worth it!
Name: Madeline Arms
Favorite Memory: One of the eleven-year-old campers in my cabin made me a friendship bracelet and told me she would never forget me. Just knowing that I've touched someone's life in just one week was a really rewarding feeling. These kids look up to the counselors and you can tell that camp is their favorite week of the year.
Best part about being involved in CK: One thing I love about camp is that I can see where all of my fundraising efforts go. That money helped add to the Camp Kesem family, and I got to witness the love, selflessness, and support of this family firsthand.
Why Alpha Chi: I chose Alpha Chi because I felt as though these girls would encourage me to be the best version of myself. After my first year, I could not imagine being anywhere else.
Name: Sarah Huddleston
Major: Political Science and Philosophy
How did you get involved in Camp Kesem?: I heard about Camp through some of the AXO's that were involved in the organization! It was a great way to meet new people and get to know more of my sisters!
What's your favorite CK memory?: On one of our first nights of camp, our entire cabin had a glow in the dark rave. All of the girls in our unit and the older unit danced for hours. It was one of the best times of my life!
Why Alpha Chi?: Alpha Chi has brought me so much closer to women who have the same passions as I do. It was so great to get to lead a group of kids alongside so many sisters. Seeing my friends' genuine and caring hearts through this weeks has truly heightened my love for this sorority.