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Children's Camp Looks for Nurses, Mental Health Counselors

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Camp Kesem is driven by college students and supports children of cancer patients. Camp Kesem is driven by college students and supports children of cancer patients.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

A summer camp in Central Virginia for children whose parents are fighting cancer is searching for nurses and mental health counselors to fill a shortage of professional staff. 

The group has over fifty University of Virginia students who are volunteering as counselors. The students say the professional positions are necessary to administer medicine, but also to help the children.

"It’s like the best place in the world… it’s probably the best experience I’ve had in my life,” said Aditi Islam, a camp counselor.

For one week in August, children who've watched their parents battle cancer spend time in nature with other kids who’ve gone through similar experiences.

"All of these kids come to Camp Kesem and for the first time ever they don’t have to explain themselves,” said camp counselor Juliana McCormick. “They don’t have to say ‘this is what it’s like to have a parent whose live was touched by cancer’, the kids around them just know."

McCormick became involved with Camp Kesem because she relates to what many campers have experienced.

“Cancer has touched my life personally, it took my grandpa," said McCormick.

This year, McCormick and her fellow camp counselors are searching for nurses and mental health counselors to join their team. Many of the kids have lost their parents to cancer, so being away from their families can be difficult at first.

"Whether it’s adjusting at camp or adjusting to things that are going on at home, they might just need someone to talk to who is more from a professional background," said Camp Kesem’s Co-Director Savannah Maxwell.  

But the volunteers are more than just a professional team. Whether you’re a camp attendee or a staffer, everyone becomes part of the Camp Kesem family.

"You're really a part of the community that we have at Camp Kesem,” said Maxwell. “You get to know all the counselors, you get to know all the kids, and you really gain the admiration of everyone there."

The camp is scheduled to run from Aug. 6 to 12.