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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of August 13 - 19, 2003


Rainbow Gold draws ‘beautiful people’

Camp shows talent of those who give

Express Staff Writer

When a visitor arrives for VIP Day, which was held Wednesday, Aug. 6, at Camp Rainbow Gold, 14 miles north of Ketchum at Cathedral Pines, one thinks "what a beautiful place."

The mountains soar into the blue skies. The camp sits on the banks of the Big Wood River. The cabins are quaint and cozy, and the other buildings continue in this theme. It even smells good, like pines, river and fresh air. When a visitor leaves the camp, the thought has bloomed, "what beautiful people."

Camp Rainbow Gold began in 1984 as one of the first children’s oncology camps in the United States. Idaho’s American Cancer Society, in conjunction with St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute, runs the summer camp. A board of directors oversees it.

This summer the camp hosted 68 campers between the ages of 6 and 17. They were supervised by 53 staff members as well as Counselors in Training, many of whom are older kids who were once campers themselves. Among the staff are nurses, physicians, musicians and art teachers.

Activities arranged for the kids include the very popular art shack that has an art therapist on hand. The campers also river raft, have dances and theme nights. They hike, fish and mountain bike, and ride horses with Sagebrush Equine Training Center in Hailey.

A 15-year-old from Twin Falls, who was at the camp for his fifth year said, "It’s great to be here. I get away from my parents," he laughed. "Don’t use my name. I don’t want to upset them but they’re over protective."

Then he went on to say he was an Eagle Scout, and had just spent a week river rafting with his Scout troop on the Middle Fork of the Salmon.

Activities aside, the camp’s real objective is to give many of these children the chance to be normal, for a change. It’s a place they can be themselves and not feel different, fragile or feel shunned by people who don’t understand their situation.

Addressing that sensitive issue, in the annual talent show, McCall resident Jo Jarvis preformed a song she wrote about being the girl people pointed at, the girl with cancer. The Idaho Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged for her to record her song in Los Angeles. Her peers jumped to their feet after her performance, applauding.

Another Make-A-Wish participant is Boisean Clayton Anderson who has severe Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. He was flown recently to San Francisco where he met and played ball at PacBell Stadium with his favorite baseball player, Barry Bonds. He was a very nice man, Clayton said. The current director of the camp, Tim Tyree, a lawyer from Boise, played emcee during the talent show. Performers—some in costume—sang, played piano, told jokes, and played drums. Aaron Maynard, a drummer and drum maker living in Boise, taught the kids to play drums in the style of Fungha, a tribe in East Africa. Their performance and the showcase of the drums he helped them build was a highlight of the talent show.

The two youngest campers at, 6-years-old, were Yesenia Sanchez and Vicky Majorga. Talking to a visitor, Sanchez pointed to Rob Cronin, who with his wife Kris is a constant presence at the camp.

"Ghosts really scared me. He’s a ghost," she giggled.

Cronin explained that the night before he had been telling ghost stories to the campers. "I had them in tears," he said gleefully.

Although they may ordinarily travel to Salt Lake City or Spokane for their treatments, about 95 percent of the campers come from Idaho. Many of the Idaho residents are patients at St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise.

Since the camp is free of charge to the campers, including transportation to and from Cathedral Pines, the program has to raise $50,000 a year through fund-raisers and donations.

During the VIP Day, when families, patrons and friends came for a visit and to watch the talent show and barbecue, checks from $1,000 to $20,000 were given to Cronin, who next year will be the camp director.

The Harley-Davidson raffle held Sunday, Aug. 3, raised $45,000 for the camp. A Silver Sage Girl Scout Troop from Sun Valley, accompanied by leaders Ann Johnson and Sue Dumke, donated $1,000 that they had earned themselves. An anonymous donor left the camp 12 installments of $1,000 in her will. The Dam Fools, a group from West Magic Lake, has been giving to the camp for 10 straight years. This year the group gave $1,200.

When the Cronins moved to the Wood River Valley four years ago and bought the Red Elephant Saloon in Hailey, they were introduced to the camp. At the time the camp was severely in the red and the board of directors were not sure they’d have enough for that summer’s camp week.

The Cronins joined the board shortly thereafter and began fund raising in earnest. This year they organized, with Make-A-Wish, a "Share Your Heart Ball" in Sun Valley that was highly successful. Cronin announced that today there is $125,000 in the camp’s bank account. Their goal is to seed an endowment fund that will support the camp for years to come.



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