BYU-Idaho students have the opportunity volunteer in and donate to charities and non-profit organizations.
Kyle House, a senior studying paramedicine, is the development coordinator for Camp Kesem.
“Camp Kesem is an organization which supports children ages 6-16, through and beyond their parents’ cancer,” House said. “The organization is run nationwide by college students in individual chapters.”
House said the camp gives students an opportunity to develop leaqdership skills while also serving an underserved population. He said it gives children affected by cancer the opportunity to be with others like them who are going through similar struggles.
Jake Nelson, a senior studying biology, is the social media manager for Camp Kesem.
“Camp Kesem is a group that has such a love for the kids that they serve,” he said. “It is like nothing I have ever seen before among college kids.”
Nelson said contributing as a team to serve those who stand in need is something that brings real joy. He said he wishes he could make everyone get involved with it so they could feel how awesome it is.
“The reason I would encourage others to get involved in Camp Kesem is for the same reason I got involved,” House said. “Our beliefs and even our school move us to give back and care for our brothers and sisters.”
Nelson said being a part of Camp Kesem has been a rewarding experience for him.
“I began looking for something I could do to be able to serve others, but I wanted to be a part of something that mattered,” House said. “Come be a part of Camp Kesem because what we do makes a difference in these kids’ lives. What we do matters.”
Nelson said those involved with Camp Kesem spend a lot of the time leading up to camp preparing and raising money so the kids can come for free. This way it is not a financial burden on a family already dealing with the cost of cancer treatments.
“I have donated a few hundred dollars to support the campers, as well as to cover marketing costs,” Nelson said.
House said the majority of his donation to Camp Kesem currently is the time he devotes to it. He said he would like to pay to sponsor campers once he graduates and is no longer involved.
“Camp Kesem is my favorite charity because there is just nothing else like it,” House said. “Kesem is Hebrew for magic, and when you see these kids transform at camp, it truly is a magical experience.”
House said he wanted to share a little about Camp Kesem’s history at BYU-I. He said last year was Camp Kesem’s first year at the university. He said he was lucky to be able to help and attend the camp last August.
“Since none of us had gone before, we really didn’t know what to expect, but we hoped we could make the week special for our kids,” House said. “I asked one of the first campers to arrive what he was looking forward to the most at camp. He replied that he was looking forward to going home.”
House said it did not take long to find out many of the campers came because their parents made them. He said he was worried at first that they would not have a good time. He said he and the rest of the staff did their best to help them have fun.
“Only two days later, the camper who said that he just wanted to go home couldn’t stop talking about next year, how we have to come back to this camp next year, or next year we should do this activity again,” House said. “In a short time these kids had made a connection with Camp Kesem, and I realized that it was giving them something to look forward to even after they went back home.”