Friday, August 7, 2009

Camp Rainbow Gold inspires charity, love

Annual gathering lets kids with cancer be themselves


By SABINA DANA PLASSE
Express Staff Writer

A happy Camp Rainbow Gold camper gets the feel for one of the 517 motorcycles that escorted campers to Cathedral Pines for the start of camp on Sunday, Aug. 2. Photo by Willy Cook

"Everyone is like family here," said country and Western recording artist Ashley Monroe. "I have never been to camp before and have never done anything like this."

Monroe was a guest of Camp Rainbow Gold for its summer camp for kids with cancer at Cathedral Pines, north of Ketchum. The camp, which is celebrating its 25th year, began Sunday, Aug. 2, with its traditional motorcycle escort from Timmerman Hill to Cathedral Pines, where 83 campers—two busloads of children ranging in age from 6-17—were brought for a week of fun and love in the Wood River Valley.

This year's motorcycle escort included 517 participants, the most in the escort's history. Last year, 175 motorcyclists participated in the escort. The Kiwanis Club of Hailey, which hosted the motorcyclists with a barbecue at Timmerman Junction, presented Camp Rainbow Gold with a bonus check. The club raised more than $3,000 for the camp from lunch and raffle sales.

The camp ends today. Certainly, lots of memories will leave Cathedral Pines to help kids with cancer survive, recover and live one day at a time. The week of activities included singing, dancing, horseback riding, a carnival, lots of laughing and much more.

During Monroe's stay, she and campers wrote several songs together, which were performed at the camp's traditional campfire gathering on Tuesday night. The song topics ranged from girls laughing about boys to what it's like to be at Camp Rainbow Gold. Monroe and the campers thrilled a packed room of eager listeners.

Included in the audience were Kris Kronin, volunteer community relations director, and Rob Cronin, the volunteer camp director. The couple were in jeans and T-shirts, the same outfits they had worn only one hour ago to speak in front of a glamorous crowd of Camp Rainbow Gold donors at a fundraising event at Gilman Contemporary art gallery in Ketchum.

The gallery hosted an event with artist Ashley Collins, catered by Judith McQueen. McQueen was a counselor at the camp last year, and Collins had only the day before spent the day creating art with campers.

Kris told a story about how Collins changed a camper's life by spending time with her drawing and talking about art. After meeting Collins, the camper and her camp mates got ready for a dance and talked to boys, which would have been very unlikely prior to Collins' visit.

"There are many stories to tell," Kris said. "Everyone is a special guest."

Collins created the painting "Courage" for Camp Rainbow Gold, with proceeds from its sale going to the camp. The immense painting includes camp memorabilia and stories pasted on and around a stoic horse..

Also in attendance at Gilman Contemporary were Camp Rainbow Gold founder Dr. Dave McClusky and Boise-based American Cancer Society District Executive Director Rick Carpenter. An American Cancer Society team, as well as more than 200 volunteers from around Idaho, supports Camp Rainbow Gold. It has been accredited through the American Camp Association since 2002.

Camp Rainbow Gold will extend its oncology camp for two weeks in 2010 so no child will be turned away.

Sabina Dana Plasse: splasse@mtexpress.com




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