There are 1.7-million cancer cases a year in the United States that affect individuals and their families. It can be especially hard for children whose parents are battling cancer -- and each summer a camp run by a group of Texas A&M students empowers these children.
It's a place that brings nearly a hundred kids and teens each year from across the lone star state.
"It's my second year and it's been really fun,” said 15-year-old Bryan resident who nicknamed himself: “Fresh Prince.”
They exchange their real names for nick-names.
“I really like the show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and when I came here last year I didn't have a nick-name, so right when I came here this year, I said, "Yep, it's going to be Fresh Prince,” “said Fresh Prince.
For one week each and every one leaves behind the stress of school and life for an experience they say they'll never forget.
“It's like an adult's resort for kids. It's a getaway from every problem in life,” said Fresh Prince.
“I really enjoy the arts and crafts and just being able to do all of the activities,” said 11-year-old Skittles. “I especially love being at the lake with my friends and playing ‘Ga-Ga’.”
Here at Camp Kesem -- a zip code is just about the only thing that separates their stories.
"My step-dad was diagnosed in February last year,” said Fresh Prince. “His name was Ronnie Jackson; he had stage four lung cancer and he passed away about two weeks ago. He’s been my step-dad since I was four. We were just really, really close.”
“My dad had colon cancer and in 2010 he did die,” said Skittles. “This place, coming here has just has made me feel like it’s okay to grieve, like, it’s okay to be upset because I know I’m not the only one that’s going through this.”
“Just to come here and to be able to interact with camp counselors and other kids who literally have been through it just really gave me so much peace, really,” said Sasha Fierce.
Texas A&M student and camp counselor Sasha Fierce says what's so extraordinary about the camp is every one can relate.
“My mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was a freshman in high school and she passed away my junior year of college,” Sasha Fierce said.
It's an outlet that regardless of where you come from, or how old you are -- provides time for healing through the power of stories.
“I remember one time when I had shared my story of cancer with the kids and one six-year-old put her arm around me and said, "Don't worry we're all in it together,” and it was just one of the things that sold me on this place, and it’s the very reason I’m going to stay here as long as I can,” Sasha Fierce said.
The Texas A&M Camp Kesem Chapter holds fundraisers all year long to pay for the week-long camp. This year they raised nearly $40,000 and are still in need of more donations.
If you'd like to donate, or learn more about enrolling your child in camp next summer, you can find a link to the camp's website below this story.
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