SWAN VALLEY, Idaho - Summer camp is a tradition many kids look forward to. This week, it's the annual Camp Magical Moments in Swan Valley. The traditions are the same, but this camp is extra-special: all the campers are 7 to 12 years old who have or have had cancer.
One camper is 7-year-old Olive. It's her first year at camp, and so far she has loved tie-dying shirts, painting rocks, and archery. Olive has a brain tumor.
"It starts from your brain stem and goes all the way down and it leaves water in your head so they had to cut open my neck and put a tube in their and drain the water down to my belly," said Olive.
For this week, she doesn't have to worry about that.
"We have a fantastic medical team who meets before camp to go over all of their charts. There is lots of paperwork the parents have to fill out. We get consent for medical treatment; the physicians have to sign off the kids can go to camp," said Ann Walsh, camp founder and director.
Some of the favorite activities were rock climbing, horseback riding, and crafts.
After the morning activities Monday, it was time for lunch. United States Submarine veterans named each camper an Honorary Submariner. They got a certificate and a shirt marked with dolphins to make it official. They also rang the bell that submarines use to indicate when they are surfacing.
"We love getting out here with the kids we have more fun than they do, they don't know it but that's what happens," said veteran Woody Reed.
Among all of the camp traditions, the connections are the best
"I love all the nice people here because it's one place I can go and no one makes fun of me for having had cancer because they all understand," said 11-year-old Anna.
Each camper paints a rock that is planted in a rock garden, so they will always be a part of the Magical Moments family.
The camp also hosts a moms' weekend and a siblings' weekend camp throughout the year. This year they will start a dads' weekend. Camps are free to the campers, operated by volunteers and funded through donations.