happen at Camp Rainbow Gold
Kids with cancer at
Express Staff Writer
camps of every shape and form provide wonderful experiences for young
people in the central mountains of Idaho.
is one camp that has a special mission.
Rainbow Gold, where youngsters with cancer go for a week that often
changes their entire outlook toward their disease and toward the way they
relate to their community.
always say, if you have a week, we’ll change your life," said
Sharon Buckle of Twin Falls, the American Cancer Society’s camp manager
for Camp Rainbow Gold.
Camp Rainbow Gold takes place Sunday, Aug. 4 through Friday, Aug. 9 at
Cathedral Pines campground north of Ketchum near Easley and just south of
American Cancer Society chapter in conjunction with Boise’s Mountain
States Tumor Institute started the camp in 1984 as one of the first
children’s oncology camps in the U.S., according to Buckle.
little, year after year, Camp Rainbow Gold has grown to where 70 campers
between the ages of six and 16 are expected for the 2002 session—and
they’ll be supervised by 60 trained volunteers.
they may ordinarily travel to Salt Lake City or Spokane for their
treatments, about 95% of the campers come from Idaho and a few from
eastern Oregon, Buckle said.
three campers usually come from Blaine County, six or seven from the Magic
Valley, the same number from eastern Idaho, a handful from the Panhandle
region and the bulk from the Boise Valley.
Rainbow Gold, they interact, make new friends and have a great time being
a round robin of activity," said Buckle, excited that campers will be
able to ride horses this year through the Sagebrush Arena’s adaptive
horseback riding program.
hiking, swimming and field games, to carnivals, costume dances, arts and
crafts, skits and songs, the Camp Rainbow Gold activity staff of five
keeps the kids hopping.
of the extent of their illnesses, newcomers are welcomed with open arms.
Their medical needs are taken care of. The socialization process
accomplishes healing, too.
said, "Childhood cancer is the most curable. But these kids have all
had serious illnesses. They come to us in varying degrees, from those who
are quite ill to kids who are six or seven years out from diagnosis.
camp is a bonding of those with similar interests. It helps the kids get
back on track and starts them thinking about what kind of adults they will
be. Socially it turns them around and encourages them to attack life with
optimism. Their families benefit, and their classrooms benefit.
kids have been through so much. The camp is like a big family. Really it’s
an amazing experience."
Camp Rainbow Gold work is its volunteer staff, many returning year after
year. This gives the program continuity, Buckle said.
through mandatory training that includes some home study and mostly group
counselor program called "Counselors in Training," for ages
17-20 takes the volunteers through a three-level leadership training
process taking them to full counselor status.
counselors start at the age of 21 and include volunteers up to age 66.
Their experience is so rewarding that, to a person, they will say they
receive more than they give.
Camp Rainbow Gold is free of charge to the campers, including
transportation to and from Cathedral Pines, the program has to raise
$50,000 a year through fundraisers and donations, Buckle said.
Hailey’s Red Elephant Saloon spearheaded a Wood River Valley benefit
that ended up raising $20,000 for the camp including a generous matching
donation, she said.
liaison between the American Cancer Society and the camp’s all-volunteer
staff, Buckle is the only paid employee, so most of the donations go
directly to the camp. She puts in plenty of extra hours.
campers for a week and a business for the other 51 weeks," said
Buckle, who’s had her Camp Rainbow Gold job for seven years.
for the first time, Camp Rainbow Gold is gaining accreditation through the
American Camping Association as well as through the American Cancer
Society’s Camping Center of Excellence.
summer, more and more kids take advantage of Camp Rainbow Gold.
"We haven’t gotten to the point where the camp is full, but every
year we get a little bigger."
the application process, call Buckle at 208-734-2425 or write her at Camp
Rainbow Gold, 357 Edwards Drive, Twin Falls, ID 83301.
The camp is
also in need of the following donations:
flier miles to campers and volunteers for camper transportation,
volunteer conferences and staff accreditation training sessions.
for camper art donated for fundraising purposes.
sponsorships so the kids can go to Camp Rainbow Gold. The cost is
about $600 per child for sponsorships.