In Hebrew, the word, “kesem” translates to, “magic” in the English language. The beauty of magic is that it can do anything, including bring joy back into the eyes of someone who hasn’t seen it for a long time. Christopher Rodriquez (Iota-Gamma, ’18) wants to give that feeling to each and every kid that walks through the Camp Kesem program.
Camp Kesem is a nonprofit organization that caters to kids whose parents are directly affected by cancer. For one week during the summer, counselors go to campsites around the nation and treat their campers to a week of stress-free activities. It is of no cost to the kids attending due to generous donations which are fundraised throughout the year.
When he was young, Rodriguez grew up quickly as his father was diagnosed with end stage stomach cancer. While dealing with the tragedy, he became a more prominent figure in his house as he began taking more responsibility taking care of his younger siblings. It was more about survival than managing the sadness and anger.
“These kids are so strong and so resilient. For six days, it’s as if the world can stop. You are in this euphoria of magic. As someone who as gone through this personally, I want to be able to give back to the community and give back to these children. I want to share my thoughts and feelings to help them get through it better than the way I went through it” says Rodriquez.
He had the opportunity to do just that during his first year of being a counselor. One of his campers hesitated during games & activities which left Rodriquez to sit by his side while the rest had fun. He learned the story of his camper and realized that they’re journey’s with cancer were nearly identical.
“For someone who has gone through this and dealt with this hardship, finding a camper who was mirroring my exact situation made me think, ‘this is why I am here’. I struggled through my father’s cancer at the age of 18 and I still struggle with it at 23. These campers, who are 6, changed my perspective on why this organization exists” explains Rodriquez.
After his chapter learned more about his struggle with cancer and passion for Camp Kesem, the executive board made a decision that would impact the way Rodriquez viewed his brotherhood forever. Iota-Gamma donated $300 to support him in fundraising more money in order to send another kid to camp.
“This fraternity is so much more than what people think on the outside. I used Lambda Chi as the foundation that shot me off for the rest of my career. It helped me toward Camp Kesem” says Rodriquez.
While pursuing his master’s degree at California State – Fresno, he will continue serving the organization by taking the role of Operations Coordinator. He plans, schedules and executes each camp location based on his assigned region. If you or someone you know would like to be involved with Camp Kesem, please visit, https://www.campkesem.org/.
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