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Camp Kesem Counselor Retreat

2010 March 7
by Stanley Quan

Just a few hours ago, I got back from Camp Kesem Berkeley’s Counselor Retreat. We had rented out a huge house in Pacifica and 47 of us (with three bathrooms, mind you) stayed there for the weekend. The theme was Survivor, and we were separated into five tribes to compete in various counselor training and bonding activities. Most of us didn’t know each other very well, if at all, at the start of retreat, but staying in a single house for a few days brought us all together into a tight-knit group. I had so much fun singing tons of camp songs, playing games, hanging out on the beach, and just talking in general.

Last night, all of the new counselors got their camp names. We use camp names at the summer camp and getting a name symbolizes a sort of crossing over. It was great to see so many new faces excited and passionate about a cause that I am passionate about as well.

Following camp names, our final activity was cabin chat. All of us sat down in a circle and each had some time to answer one question: What is your connection to Camp Kesem? It was one of the most powerful and emotional things I have ever been apart of. Though some people are more directly linked to cancer than others, each individual had a personal story to tell about why Camp Kesem means a lot to them. Hearing everyone, it was really tough to keep the waterworks from flowing.

I think the main reason I love Kesem so much is that it is a place where others understand or try their best to understand with an open heart. At cabin chat, I talked about things in my life that I’ve never really shared with anyone else. In our circle, I just felt really comfortable expressing my emotions and feelings. Some of these people I had just met the day before, but even then, I knew no one would laugh, no one would pity me. All of us have gone through a similar circumstance and know firsthand how it feels. That empathy is powerful.

I always feel really fortunate that I found Kesem and have been able to be apart of an organization with so many amazing people and a touching cause. Camp Kesem certainly brings out the best in me.

3 Responses
  1. Mapes permalink
    March 7, 2010

    Well put, Stanley. This WAS an amazing weekend.

  2. March 7, 2010

    47 people in one house with 3 bathrooms? Survivor indeed.

    But it sounds like you’ve been forging some great connections and making a lot of new friends that you can relate with. I’m glad you’ve found your cause too :)

  3. Kao permalink
    March 8, 2010

    oh so thoughtful.

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