Camp Magical Moments

Q&A with Ann Walsh

Published online: Aug 31, 2020 Articles, East Idaho Health
Viewed 934 time(s)

Cancer is the unthinkable. It’s the diagnosis no one wants to hear, especially when it’s your own child on the receiving end. We all know cancer is a difficult trial for everyone involved in that child’s life. This is one of many reasons why Ann Walsh started Camp Magical Moments. IFM staff sat down with Ann to learn more about the mission of the camp and what it does to help children and their families during the worst of times. 

Q: What is the main mission of Camp Magical Moments? 

A: We started the camp to operate children with cancer and their families, a place of retreat and support and an environment of fun friendship and love. 

Q: What are some of the things that you guys do to fulfill that mission? 

A: We started out with one oncology camp. We would have been celebrating our 16th anniversary this year. Unfortunately, we had to cancel it because of COVID-19. 

Our first camp was in 2005, and from there we decided we needed to do a siblings camp so we thought, ‘Well, you know, the moms need a camp, too.’ 

Now we do free camps for the entire family. We have really good donors who believe in what we do and we have no paid salaries at this time. Everything people donate goes toward the running of the camp.

Q: How did you get involved with starting the campout? 

A: I’m from Alabama and I was an executive director with the American Cancer Society. When we moved down here in 2003, I told my husband I was going to start a camp for children with cancer. 

Q: What have been some of the things 

that you have loved most about running the camp? 

A: You know, it’s just the relationships all the volunteers have made with the families. Our volunteers may not do all four camps like I do, but they’ll come and volunteer at the mom’s retreat or they may also volunteer at the siblings camp. 

We’ve had children come that we knew they didn’t have long to live. When you have those children come in and they may just have two months to live, you see how much happiness they have throughout the week, and how they can get away from what they deal with on a daily basis. 

Q: How do you get through that? 

A: We listen to the laughter and the laughter that the children share – that we all share. There’s hard moments and we tell the kids we may be crying, but it’s because we’re so happy they’re there. 

During the week of camp we do a celebration of life ceremony. It’s important for those children to know that if something happens to them that they will always be remembered at camp. 

Q: What are some of your favorite memories from the camp? 

A: Our first year, a mother sent her son, Izeyah, and he only had six months to live. He had a glioma brain tumor. She unselfishly let him come to camp from the Boise area and he then passed away in the winter time.

Some of our campers were there from the previous year and they would start seeing this yellow butterfly. We would be in a group and this yellow butterfly would come and fly in between us and the kids started saying, ‘Oh, look, Izeyah is here!'

Q: How can people get involved?

A: Visit our website to figure out how you can donate or volunteer!

Camping with the Ashcrafts

For Camille Ashcraft and her family, participating in Camp Magical Moments is a significant moment not just for her daughter with cancer, but for the entire family. The camp satisfies an array of needs with activities for children, therapy sessions and building a sense of camaraderie among families. 

“Camp Magical Moments is the best thing that’s happened to our family,” Camille Ashcraft said. “It’s the silver lining of cancer. I think it’s been the highlight of my daughter’s childhood. It’s been one of the things that I look forward to the most, every year is going to camp.”

For Camille, Camp Magical Moments is exactly what it promises – magic. Children with cancer, siblings and parents alike are all able to unwind and connect with others sharing similar experiences. 

“I’ve had other stuff happen in my life and the friends I’ve made at camp have been there for me and other hardships that I faced,” Ashcraft explained. “ They’re the ones I want to share both the good and bad things that happened to me with. The camp really helped facilitate relationships that have carried us through. The best friends I have come from Camp Magical Moments.” 


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