In 1954, a group of young Wood River Valley mothers wanted to ski a few times a week, but they needed a babysitter for their toddlers. From this, the Papoose Club was born.
"The Papoose Club's sole purpose was a babysitting exchange so we could go skiing," said a founding member Betty Bell. "A couple times a week, we would take all the kids to one mother's house, and rotate. Only the name is the same now—the club has a loftier purpose."
Today the Papoose Club has evolved into one of the valley's most enriching youth-oriented organizations, fostering cultural, social, educational and athletic activities for many children in the valley. In addition, the club holds fund raising events throughout the year to help fund other local organizations and activities.
"It is a support group for adults with children and adults without children who want to give back to the community," said Papoose Club publicist Karin Horvath. "I don't have any children of my own, but I wanted to be a part of giving back to the community."
In its fifty plus years, the Papoose Club has seen many changes in the valley, and the club's importance has grown for young moms and kids who are elementary-school age or younger. The club also has social evenings for adults with an opportunity to meet Papoose Club alumni.
"Joining the Papoose Club has allowed me to connect and be involved with a part of the community I generally don't have a lot of interaction with on a day-to-day basis," Horvath said. "It's allowed me to be proactive in helping to enrich the cultural, educational and athletic opportunities for children in the valley."
Due to The Castle Rock Fire, this fall the club had to cancel its Wagon Days Pancake Breakfast, not only a valley tradition but one of the club's bigger fund-raising events, serving over 1,500 plates of pancakes, eggs and sausage.
"The upcoming Holiday Craft Bazaar will have to be a big push this year," Horvath said.
The club donates the profits it generates from events to the community, whether to help purchase tests for the Woodside Elementary School library or assisting the Wood River High School cross-country team in purchasing necessities for its team members.
"One hundred percent of the funds are given out to the community," Horvath said. "It's not a huge amount of money, but organizations that need a little helping hand who may have larger donors or sponsors need it."
The Papoose Club has presented the Kinder Cup downhill race as a community service event for more than 50 years and is now seeing three generations of participants.
"It's a great way for kids to compete and interact with other kids their own age," Horvath said. "Every child receives some recognition whether it's a badge or gold coin."
The Papoose Club also holds the Quigley Cup Nordic ski race and additional fundraising events such as the Webb Nursery plant sale. Years ago, mothers had to drive to Twin Falls for plants because nursery businesses did not exist in the Wood River Valley.
"It's a great social network of very generous women from all walks of life who feel passionate about contributing back to our community," Horvath said. "I like to think that my participation in the club may help make the difference in allowing just one child to be exposed to something new and unknown and find a passion to continue that activity for life, which I think is a positive way to influence a child's growth."