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Learning in Action, U.Va.

Learning in Action

Public Service at the University of Virginia

Volunteer of the Week: Savannah Maxwell

Savannah is a fourth-year in the Batten school with a major in public policy and leadership and a minor in Spanish. She volunteers with Camp Kesem, whose mission is "to support children through and beyond their parent's cancer with innovative, fun-filled programs that foster a lasting community." Savannah and other volunteers work during the week-long summer camp and also provide year-long support to their campers to ensure that every child touched by a parent's cancer is never alone.

What lead you to getting involved with Camp Kesem?

I became involved with Camp Kesem because my first year at UVA, I wanted to branch out and join something that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I saw someone wearing a Camp Kesem T-shirt and when I learned more about it, I was immediately drawn to the cause. After my first year of camp, I knew it was magical, and Kesem quickly became my favorite involvement and a huge part of my life.

What's been the most rewarding aspect of Camp Kesem?

The most rewarding aspect of Camp Kesem has been watching my campers support each other during their difficult times at home. Camp Kesem is a safe place for campers to feel understood when dealing with a parent's cancer. Even when a camper is going through the toughest times, they always prioritize each other, which is so special to watch. The other rewarding aspect is seeing the kids getting to just be kids. They laugh, smile, and play all day, and get to have a fun and safe escape from the stress they typically endure. Being a part of that is truly indescribable.

What would you to say to someone thinking about joining Camp Kesem or any other service initiative?

To anyone thinking about joining Camp Kesem or anything similar, if you are on the fence DO IT! Even if you have not gone through what the campers have gone through, you will make an incredible impact on their lives, and they will make an even bigger impact on you. At Camp Kesem, my campers have shown me what strength, resilience, and joy really looks like. You aren't just a typical camp counselor, you get to have fun and change lives at the same time!