Name: Stephanie Huie
Class Year: 2015
Major/Minor: History/Entrepreneurship & Management
Hometown: Hamilton, NJ
A Letter from Hanny
Call me Hanny. I feel like Hanny is the best version of me. As Hanny, I believe I am Superwoman – confident, hilarious, loving, spirited, kind, engaged, understanding, inventive, thoughtful, patient, a leader. Hanny is my Camp Kesem name. We all have camp names. Gumball, Pumba, Cool Guy, Ms. Grande, Cloud, Marvel, Congo, Lucky, Shockwave, Pinecone, Simba, Tinkerbell.
There is nothing in this world that I care more about than Camp Kesem. Why? The people. I’ve only spent 12 days of summer with our campers, counselors, and staff so, theoretically, I should consider these people strangers. Instead, I call them family.
We are SO SO SO dysfunctional, but in the best way. There’s 8-year-old Mortiachy who likes to say he’s lactose intolerant just because he wants to “fit in” with the dairy-free kids. But then he repeatedly eats a bunch of cheese and repeatedly throws up, so maybe he is lactose intolerant, or maybe he just eats an insane amount of cheese. There’s 16-year-old Turquoise who wears a turtleneck, jeans, and a jean jacket to summer camp when it’s 90 degrees out. There are the two brothers, Bacon and Uncle Fudge, who are obsessed with Gangnam Style and will literally stop eating mid-bite when they hear the first few beats to get up and dance. There’s 7-year-old Princess Bella who oozes so much sass, you just know she is the future Queen Bey. Her favorite thing is to purse her lips and perfectly sing lyrics like “I woke up like this…flawless.” I’ve only known all of these crazy kids for 12 days max, but they have stolen my heart for forever.
In official language, Camp Kesem is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to support kids whose parents have cancer. In my words, we create a wonderful community of amazing kids, parents, counselors, and staff to provide deserving families with love, magic, and fun.
The work we do is unparalleled. Students volunteer for an entire year to fundraise $40,000, to negotiate contracts, to design exciting programs, and much more, just so special kids have an opportunity to experience a week of high-energy summer camp, completely free. I was the Operations Coordinator the past year, so handling all of the logistics of the schedule, and it was a ridiculous amount of work being on Exec Board. Apparently, I was so invested/obsessed with my work that I’ve been told that I would mutter about camp in my sleep. We need chicken tenders. Fill the buckets with more water balloons. I can’t find the marshmallows. The table isn’t clean enough. Where did Turbo go? But hearing the kids cheer like maniacs when their team answered a question right during Jeopardy, seeing the kids getting crazy excited during the wet and wild relay races, and spending time laughing about dumb things with the kids made it all worth it. I feel so lucky that, in my memory, I have stored these little happy snapshots of our magical little Camp Kesem world.
Since I’ve joined Camp Kesem, I know I have become a better person. In my roles as a counselor and Operations Coordinator I have developed my skills as a listener and communicator. I am more empathetic and I am more confident. I feel prepared to be a stronger leader, mentor, teacher, friend, and a future mother. I owe so much to this organization for not only giving me a cause to believe in, but also cultivating such a wonderful culture where I have found a second family.
Basically, thank you Camp Kesem for being an awesome organization. I feel so privileged that I get to be a part of this magical community.