Student- run Nonprofit Continues To Thrive
Camp Kesem continues to recruit, support and change the lives of students - and kids
When Hannah DePriest walked onto campus her freshman year, she felt lost. She didn’t join Greek life, she wasn’t a college athlete and she was unsure of what organizations to join. One night, however, she scrolled through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s list of clubs and organizations. Her curiosity led her to click on a link that said “Camp Kesem.” She reached out to the heads of the organization, went to a few meetings and has since never looked back.
Camp Kesem is a national nonprofit that aims in supporting children through and beyond their parent’s cancer. There are over 100 chapters throughout the country, one of them being at UNL. Camp Kesem provides families with year-long support and a free week-long summer camp for affected children. Not to mention, Camp Kesem is run entirely by college students. Pretty cool, right? DePriest said one of the most magical parts of Camp Kesem is whom she gets to meet. Now as the director of the UNL chapter, she said the amount of people and the diversity of members surprises her every year.
“It’s amazing to see our chapter grow and become more and more relevant on campus. It makes me feel like we’re doing something right,” DePriest said.
Every year, the organization gears up for months and months of fundraising and recruiting. Last year, the organization gained 60 new members. Though they aren’t sure how many students will join this year, DePriest is excited to welcome supporters and new members with open arms.
“Joining this organization was one of the best decisions I’ve had in college. I hope other people have that same feeling.”
One member who went back and forth between wanting to join or not was Elsie Stormberg. Stormberg joined Camp Kesem last year and is now a member of the executive board. At the time Stormberg was balancing internships, jobs and other organizations. However, she was seeking something different, something new. For her, Camp Kesem has given her a sense of community, a place to belong and be herself. Stormberg said she can be found on campus sporting one of her many Camp Kesem t-shirts and couldn’t be prouder. The kids she has been able to serve and support at camp have stuck with her. Being on executive board allows her to think about this organization every day – and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
To help get more volunteers and counselors, executive board members make videos, create campaigns and take to social media to advertise their organization. Michael Broussard, a general member of the organization, said it’s amazing what the executive board is able to do to keep other members, interested students and donors engaged into what’s happening in the world of Camp Kesem.
“Though I don’t serve on the executive board, I still get to see how Camp Kesem thrives every year. The work they do and the kids at camp get me coming back,” Broussard said.
This summer, Camp Kesem at UNL is aiming to have 125 campers. That’s a lot of kiddos. DePriest said that won’t be possible without the help of volunteers, donors and counselors. To make an impact and a difference while getting to meet other like-minded students, DePriest said it’s worth checking out the organization.
“I feel that people aren’t going to regret coming to a meeting of ours. Our mission is to make a difference, leave a lasting impact and give students a new perspective,” DePriest said.