38 Signs Camp Kesem Has Taken Over Your Life

38 Signs Camp Kesem Has Taken Over Your Life

Because falling asleep to Razzle Dazzle is totally normal, right?
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Camp Kesem, a camp for kids affected by a parent's cancer, allows kids to replace worry with fun for a week and just be kids. There's nothing quite as special as a week of gibberish songs, crazy games, powerful stories and meaningful relationships. Spending a week at Camp Kesem can really change a person.

1. Some of your biggest heroes are 6 years old

You never thought you could be so inspired by someone in kindergarten, but after seeing the strength and resilience of Kesem campers, you feel so lucky to even be in their presence.

2. You get strange looks on campus when you scream hello to your camp friends

What? Have you met my friends Pitchfork, Bucket and Window?

3. Your non-camp friends get annoyed when you can't stop talking about camp

"And then we put on the Whip Nae Nae and ... maybe you had to be there."

4. You constantly have camp songs stuck in your head

It's fine. You've gotten used to "Jellyfish" being your lullaby every night.

5. There's always that one kid who gets on your nerves - but they have a breakthrough

All I'm asking is for you to please not run away from camp today - do you think you can handle that?

6. You tear up just thinking about the empowerment ceremony

While the stories are heartbreaking, it's happy tears knowing how brave each and every camper is.

7. You wear your Kesem gear while traveling, just in case you run into someone from Kesem at another school

Knowing you're connected to a national network of the coolest kind of people makes you want to meet them all.

8. You dread the day you will have to watch EOTs yet again

Oh, so you're saying I shouldn't leave 5-year-olds unsupervised in the lake? Got it.

9. Your Facebook friends are probably annoyed that you keep asking for donations

Hi. Have you heard of Camp Kesem? Oh, you saw this yesterday? Well, you'll hear about it tomorrow, too. And the next day. And the next day, And ...

10. You're never short on ice-breaker activity ideas

"Nice to meet you, professor. Do you want to gather a group of people and hold hands and try to untangle ourselves?"

11. Knowing you're surrounded by your Kesem family helps you get through any difficult situation

You laugh together, cry together and dance together. Camp Kesem is the best support system in the world.

12. Camp Kesem has made you a better person

Camp Kesem is just one big lesson in compassion, understanding, patience, responsibility and friendship.

13. Trying to explain the magic of camp to others is impossible

It's kind of just like the greatest thing ever because, you know, it just is.

14. You force everyone you know to do Wow Pow Chow with you before bed

OK, Mom, what was the best thing you ate today, though?

15. Explaining your entire summer to someone means 99 percent of it will be about the one week of camp

Yeah, I went to Spain, but on the first day of camp ... .

16. There's no other student group you are more proud to be a part of

You believe nothing could possibly be as fulfilling as helping a child overcome their parent's cancer.

17. You can't listen to that Miranda Lambert "Little Red Wagon" song without thinking about a bunch of kids yelling at each other

"The front seat's broken and the axle's dragging."

18. Before camp, you never thought you would get up in front of everyone at the talent show

But next thing you know, you're on stage with your favorite people doing a ridiculous dance you made up without a care in the world.

19. When someone says Karl, you assume they're talking about a fluffy caterpillar

Oh, your name is Karl? But you're like -- a human?

20. You have almost accidentally signed an email "CK Love" to someone not in Kesem

That would've been a fun one to explain to your boss.

21. Unexpectedly seeing a camper outside of camp is always a blessing

Fate knew it couldn't possibly keep you apart for a whole year.

22. You take up every opportunity to hang out with camp people

Camp: check. Make the Magic: check. Debrief: yep. Volunteering: I'm there. Training: not even mad. Scrubbing the floor of the hockey arena: I can do that, too.

23. You never think you'll ever actually make it to your fundraising goal, but somehow pull it off

How in the world am I supposed to raise $500 when I only have like 27 cents in my bank account?

24. You can't make toast without breaking out into a rap

Toast definitely deserves its own rap, considering that's what you lived off of all week at camp. Just remember this pro tip: If it pops up too soon, push it back down.

25. You know camp friends better than friends you've had for years

You went into camp as strangers, but then you saw each other drenched in sweat and paint and mud with your haven't-showered-in-four-days hair, twisting your body into unnatural positions, all while singing gibberish camp songs, and there's nothing really more connecting than that.

26. You're amazed at how well your crew cleans up at Make the Magic

Wait, so this is what you look like when you've showered?

27. You get upset when you have to take off all your friendship bracelets

What do you mean 30 friendship bracelets on my arms and ankles isn't professional for my internship?

28. Campfire has become your new favorite scent

Nothing really brings you back to camp quite like the memories of sitting by the campfire, sweaty after a long day, taking in the night sky and singing songs.

29. You feel really old when you realize you have no idea what celebrities your campers are talking about

Who? Aaron Carpenter? You mean Aaron Carter? No? You don't know who Aaron Carter is?

30. You try to explain made-up camp games to your friends, but they just don't get it

"Well, basically, you run around with socks filled with flour and hit each other."

31. Your friends have accepted your made up vocabulary

Oh, a le le. A le le tiki tonga.

32. You wish it was socially acceptable to be as goofy as you are at camp every day

I guess starting out a class presentation with a "repeat after me" song isn't a normal thing to do.

33. You've tried to figure out how to become a professional camp counselor for the rest of your life

There has to be a way. We must find the loophole.

34. You find yourself looking at old pictures and notes and reminiscing about camp

Only 360 days until camp next year.

35. There are just too many things that remind you of camp


It's hard to even make it through the day without something to trigger your mind back to camp.

36. You love watching movies about summer camp

"What are you watching?" "Oh, this foreign film from the 1970s. It's completely in Portuguese, but it's about a summer camp."

37. Camp has made you even more motivated to fight against cancer

Cancer sucks and Camp Kesem won't stop until cancer is 100 percent cured, but giving kids a place to forget about worry and just be kids is a good place to start.

38. You can't wait to go back

Above all, you know Camp Kesem is the most special place on earth.

Cover Image Credit: https://www.google.com/search?q=summer+camp&biw=1225&bih=577&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjorqOrw9vLAhWDQCYKHeRPD0IQ_AUIBygC#tbm=isch&q=camp+kesem+welcome&imgrc=dXNRprQNJ-C2OM%3A

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31 Reasons Why I Would NEVER Watch Season 2 Of '13 Reasons Why'

It does not effectively address mental illness, which is a major factor in suicide.
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When I first started watching "13 Reasons Why" I was excited. I had struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for a long time and thought this show would be bringing light to those issues. Instead, it triggered my feelings that I had suppressed.

With season two coming out soon, I have made up my mind that I am NEVER watching it, and here is why:

1. This show simplifies suicide as being a result of bullying, sexual assault, etc. when the issue is extremely more complex.

2. It does not effectively address mental illness, which is a major factor in suicide.

3. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention has guidelines on how to portray suicides in TV shows and movies without causing more suicides.

"13 Reasons Why" disregarded those guidelines by graphically showing Hannah slitting her wrists.

4. It is triggering to those who have tried to commit suicide in the past or that struggle with mental illness.

5. It glorifies suicide.

6. It does not offer healthy coping solutions with trauma and bullying.

The only "solution" offered is suicide, which as mentioned above, is glorified by the show.

7. This show portrays Hannah as dramatic and attention-seeking, which creates the stereotype that people with suicidal thoughts are dramatic and seeking attention.

8. Hannah makes Clay and other people feel guilty for her death, which is inconsiderate and rude and NOT something most people who commit suicide would actually do.

9. This show treats suicide as revenge.

In reality, suicide is the feeling of hopelessness and depression, and it's a personal decision.

10. Hannah blames everyone but herself for her death, but suicide is a choice made by people who commit it.

Yes, sexual assault and bullying can be a factor in suicidal thoughts, but committing suicide is completely in the hands of the individual.

11. Skye justifies self-harm by saying, "It's what you do instead of killing yourself."

12. Hannah's school counselor disregards the clear signs of her being suicidal, which is against the law and not something any professional would do.

13. The show is not realistic.

14. To be honest, I didn't even enjoy the acting.

15. The characters are underdeveloped.

16. "13 Reasons Why" alludes that Clay's love could have saved Hannah, which is also unrealistic.

17. There are unnecessary plot lines that don't even advance the main plot.

18. No one in the show deals with their problems.

They all push them off onto other people (which, by the way, is NOT HEALTHY!!!).

19. There is not at any point in the show encouragement that life after high school is better.

20. I find the show offensive to not only me, but also to everyone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts.

21. The show is gory and violent, and I don't like that kind of thing.

22. By watching the show, you basically get a step-by-step guide on how to commit suicide.

Which, again, is against guidelines set by The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

23. The show offers no resources for those who have similar issues to Hannah.

24. It is not healthy for me or anyone else to watch "13 Reasons Why."

25. Not only does the show glorify suicide, but it also glorifies self-harm as an alternative to suicide.

26. Other characters don't help Hannah when she reaches out to them, which could discourage viewers from reaching out.

27. Hannah doesn't leave a tape for her parents, and even though the tapes were mostly bad, I still think the show's writers should have included a goodbye to her parents.

28. It simplifies suicide.

29. The show is tactless, in my opinion.

30. I feel like the show writers did not do any research on the topic of suicide or mental illness, and "13 Reasons Why" suffered because of lack of research.

31. I will not be watching season two mostly because I am bitter about the tastelessness.

And I do not want there to be enough views for them to make a season three and impact even more people in a negative way.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Cover Image Credit: Netflix

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Fiction On The Odyssey: Without Chaos

Without chaos, what remains?
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Note: Silver Key recipient in the 2018 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards in Short Story


01. Chaos

Without chaos, what remains?

02. Lettuce

“I think that’s the lettuce your mother bought a month ago,” her father says after a long look into the refrigerator.

Through the gap between his legs, she catches sight of a football-sized, fuzzy and greyish-blue thing sitting in the bottomost drawer. She has no idea why it is there in the first place. Besides her mother, nobody in their family knows how to cook iceberg lettuce. Why would her mother buy it if she was planning to let it rot?

Her father answers her unspoken query. “She probably meant to cook it, but forgot. Get me a trash bag and a pair of gloves, will you?”

03. Flinches

She flinches as her mother yanks a comb through her hair.

As usual, her mother’s mind is clearly elsewhere.

04. Nondescript

The man with a foreign name is nondescript in every sense of the word. He’s of average stature, with brown hair of average length, carrying a black backpack of some random brand. Off looks alone, she finds it difficult to believe that this is the very man that her father raves about.

Upon the return of her father’s most recent trip to his motherland, in Asia, her father has taken to becoming a free advertiser for the man with the foreign name, claiming that this man was the equivalent of Jesus’s second reincarnation. Thanks to the man currently standing on the front porch of her home, her father’s greatest aspiration in life is to become a monk.

In mere days, it will no longer be just an aspiration.

She looks up, drinking in the foreign man’s absurdly average features. This is the man who is stealing her father.

If only she could remember his face.

05. Verdant

The sky was positively green the day her father left.

06. Glassy

Whenever she looks into her mother’s eyes, they’re always glassy.

07. Supply

The fridge is empty. So is the pantry.

08. Almost

It’s almost comical how quickly she went from having everything to having almost nothing. Just two years ago, she had loving parents, friends and a safe place. She used to have a home. Her biggest worry used to be whether or not she would like her dinner.

Now, she wonders if she’ll be getting one at all.

09. Steadfast

Every time he looks at her, his eyes speak of steadfast loyalty.

One time, she almost believed them.

She punched him that day.

10. Soup

Her mother has always loved soup. With every meal, her mother would always ensure that there was a bowl of something hearty. Her mother used to claim that she didn’t have a favorite soup, and that she loved all soups, gumbos, chowders, stews and broths equally.

Whenever her mother said that, she would always look at her father and smirk, for they all knew that her mother was lying. Serving tomato soup at least nine times a week, with a perpetual supply in the fridge, tomato soup was an undisputed favorite of her mother’s.

The school’s version of tomato soup tastes like watered-down ketchup, but she can’t help but savor it.

11. Comfortable

She thinks, with a twinge of self-pity, of how comfortable her life could have been.

If only she hadn’t been such a brat.

12. Copy

It was too easy.

For once, the boy with the steadfast gaze was looking away. Everyone else was looking away, too, watching attentively as the teacher ranted about their poor performance on their last test, his disappointment in them, and how, to prevent half the class from failing the semester, he was going to assign a massive, 200-point project.

Or something.

The boy with the steadfast gaze continued to rummage through his bag, oblivious to the fact that she was eyeing his completed assignment. The sheet of paper faced the ceiling, sitting on the very edge of his desk, almost like it was inviting her to come and take a grab—

So, she did.

She stuffed it into her bag faster than anyone could blink, and returned her gaze to the front of the room.

13. Potatoes

In her shared apartment with her mother, she arrives to what seems like a local grocer’s entire supply of potatoes and possibly the world’s largest stockpot.

14. After

“Meet me after class,” the teacher had said to her the second she entered the classroom.

The boy with the eyes that speak of steadfast loyalty stares at her as she sits, his eyes a little too wide.

15. Bucket

Every so often, she wonders what it would feel like to kick the bucket.

16. Trade

“Your salad for some tomato soup?” he asks, unscrewing his thermos lid.

She looks up, then frowns.

She doesn’t know why he’s talking to her, especially after that stunt she just pulled. After the bell had rung, after the rest of their classmates had vacated the room, she became a blubbering mess. She claimed that the teacher was terribly mistaken. She claimed that the boy with the steadfast gaze had copied her.

It had earned him three days of in-school suspension. There was no doubt that his mother, the perfect woman that packed him homemade crustless sandwiches and warm tomato soup in thermoses, would be furious.

The word slips out of her mouth before she can stop it. “Why?”

“I don't know,” he replies.

It’s the best soup she’s ever tasted.

17. Pedal

The bike pedal falls off, mid stride, catching her off guard. It’s only after her tightly coiled body slams into a stop sign that she’s able to process what just happened.

She gets up in time to watch the bike frame collide with a car.

Anger surges unexpectedly within her like an unwelcome guest. That bike had been her primary form of transportation. She could’ve fixed that pedal. That bike would’ve been salvageable.

But, just as suddenly, the anger dissipates.

With its departure, an underlying sense of overwhelming loss is revealed.

18. Divide

The policeman’s glares are divided equally between the car owner and herself.

19. Mark

“That’s not the right one,” she says. Her gaze is unreadable as she watches a policeman approach the door of yet another apartment. “I don’t know where mine is.”

The police are exhausted and exasperated, but they try again.

“Honey,” a female officer says in a tone of barely disguised annoyance, “Try and remember, will you?”

She knows her mother hasn’t paid the bill in three months. She knows about their eviction notice. She knows that when they get evicted, her mother will be sent to jail and she’ll be sent to live in an community home.

“I can’t.”

I can’t let that happen.

Later that night, her nails curl into fists so tight that they leave a mark as the police pound on the front door of the apartment of her residence. She prays, will all her might, that no one will notice the red, half-moon wedges imprinted onto her palms.

They don’t.

20. Ducks

Ducks are adaptable beings. They can swim, fly, and walk. They’re aggressive enough to keep unwanted attention at bay, but cuddly enough to love.

She could afford to learn a thing or two from a duck.

21. Trapping

Her jacket does not do a good job of trapping body heat. She’s desperately cold and thoroughly disappointed—she expected more from Calvin Klein.

22. Detail

The boy with the steadfast gaze pays too much attention to detail.

“Did you have a good night’s sleep last night?”

She looks away. Regardless of what comes out of her mouth, she knows he’ll see right through her.

23. Stew

Her mother stirs a massive potato stew.

She chooses not to ask.

24. Filthy

“Hey, you!”

She looks up and comes face to face with someone unrecognizable.

Not that that’s surprising. She hasn’t made any effort to get to know anyone in this horrible city. Only a few are recognizable to her, and even then, she doesn’t know any names. She refuses to learn anyone’s names. This isn’t her home, so she refuses to make herself at home.

He leans in, wrinkles his nose a bit, then leans in a bit more. “When was the last time you showered?”

A week. Almost two.

“We were talking about it and—can you do us a favor and take a shower? You smell filthy,” he whispers apologetically.

I’m aware. I’m sorry. The landlord cut our water.

She says nothing.


Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash / George Gvasalia

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