Camp Kesem Wash U

Its hard to believe it had been three years since I attended my first camp Kesem with Washington University. I had taken the summer off between jobs to spend with my three girls, Emily had a travel assignment in Missouri, Kayla was close in Springfield and Allyson would be leaving in the fall for college. I had started looking for jobs to try and figure out what I wanted to do next with my career when I came across a listing on Indeed for a volunteer camp nurse to spend one week with kids whose parents who had/have cancer. I thought wow that might be fun and with my school nurse experience and Big Stuf camp experience I might just get the position. So I applied and it wasn’t too long before I was called for an interview. At the time I had no idea I was speaking to two college kids with the camp names of Beaker and Pele, I really thought I was talking to some office people on an official interview. Anyway they told me I had the position on the spot pending background check so I was pretty excited. I had a blast that year! We had around thirty-five campers if I remember correctly. The other nurse could only attend the first half and her name was Chaco. She showed me the ropes and I really liked her. I think she was from Alabama. The second half of the week Seven showed up. He picked his name because he fell like seven times while hiking a trail. I knew we were meant to be friends. I had an amazing week and could not wait until next year. I even got asked to do a second camp in Maine two weeks later. It was also amazing and you can read about it here.

I knew three years ago that if my new job wouldn’t let me off to attend Wash U then I would quit and find a new job. Well I didn’t have to be quite so dramatic since covid hit and shut down the entire world. Camp Kesem would be virtual in both 2020 and 2021 and obviously there wasn’t a need for a nurse. Last week I was stalking their instagram account and I discovered that Gibby and Fin were the directors last year. This just made me hate covid even more than I already did. In person camp would have totally rocked with those two in charge. All the girls had crushes on Fin and everyone loved to say Gib by Gib by over and over. So this year was all new college kids because all the old counselors had graduated. Beaker is in med school and Pele had a full time job after camp in 2019. I text these kids from time to time to check in on them and see what they are up to. Back to the present, all the counselors this session were just as wonderful. It just blows me away that they become involved in this organization while in college. They raise money all year long to pay for camp as it is free for the kids. Then they give a week of their summer up to spend non stop time with the kids. I do know that usually when you give of your time and talents you tend to get just as much if not more than what you give.

This year the directors were Eggo and Brother and both did an amazing job of keeping everything running smoothly. This year they didn’t have an administration cabin but rather the admin team was mixed in with the campers. This prevented me from getting to know the admin team as well because there was no hanging out with them after the late night meetings.

The nurse this year was Birdie. I liked her the minute i met her on zoom a few days before. For starters she was currently doing Mizzou’s camp Kesem which meant Wash U would have the camp site to themselves. Birdie just finished nursing school and passed boards. She went through an accelerated one year program which means she’s super smart and can handle stress like a champ. Of course she kept denying being smart but this old nurse knows better. She lives in Florida and after Wash U she left for Maine to do the camp I did three years ago. I was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts at my job but I am thrilled she is there this week. Anyway we had a great week together. We both agreed messy games were the best as you can see by our before and after pictures.

I still cannot believe she has an orange Kesem shirt from Mizzou and hated it, so used it for messy games. I told her if she ever receives an orange shirt again, save it for me. Everyone knows orange is the best color and my camper Froggy agreed with me!

Three years ago, Violet was my partner in the pool. Everyone paired up and she chose me. I was hoping she would be back this year and she was! She even remembered this and going down the slide a million times. I did not swim the first day as it was a little cloudy and cold but the second time it was game on. This campsite by far has the best pool set up I have ever seen.

The slide is amazing and so much fun. There is also a whirlpool that is pretty strong and will whip you into the wall if you aren’t careful. There is a hot tub area but the water is normal but the jets are super strong. It’s nice to sit and relax. I took this picture when no one was around because I will not post pictures of other people’s children in my blog.

I was given access to all the photos the college counselor/photographer took for the week. I’m pretty sure there are over one thousand photos on the google drive. I found two of these that were unposed and I really feel they capture exactly how I feel about camp. I had to do some cropping but you will notice that I blacked out the campers name tag for privacy. We all wore them all week long and by the end of the week, I pretty much had all the names down. This in itself is a small miracle as I am terrible with names.

It was a great week, we had seventeen campers I believe. Very little medicine so I was out playing and crafting and tie dying and just being crazy for the week. I cannot convince any of my nurse friends to take a week vacation and do this. They just have no idea what they are missing and I cannot properly put into words what this means to me. I can only say, if I cannot be off for camp next year, I truly will leave my job and do something else. Luckily, the director thinks its awesome that I do this so it shouldn’t be an issue. However, it’s alway fun to be dramatic.

Mole Moral ~ Acting like a kid and being a little crazy is good for one’s soul.