— By Shannon Banfield, Camp Mom
My name is Shannon Banfield and I live in Twin Falls, Idaho. I grew up in the Treasure Valley but moved away for a brief period before moving back and into the Magic Valley. While we were living in Nevada, my son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of three. He endured 38 months of treatment including 9 months of intensive front-line treatment followed by monthly visits for the next 29 months to conclude his full course of treatment.
We moved back to Idaho shortly after he completed all his treatment, and I am happy to report that he is a healthy 11-year-old today and almost 5 years out of treatment. When we moved back, I searched for organizations in Idaho that support pediatric cancer patients and their families — what I found was Camp Rainbow Gold. That first year was the first time my child was able to go to Camp Rainbow Gold for pediatric cancer patients and he was finally able to connect with other children who were going through or had gone through what he had been through.
Our First Camps
I cannot tell you how much that means to a mom who has watched their child struggle through school, not being able to relate to other kids, and having to be incredibly careful with his interactions so he would not get sick during treatment. That summer, he was so shy when he first got to camp but by the time I picked him up he was ready to plan for the next summer. He has been back each summer and comes away with friendships and experiences that he would not be able to get anywhere else.
In addition to Youth Camp, they also have Sibling Camps and Family Camps. In July of 2019, my husband deployed with the military, and while he was away, I signed my family up for one of Camp Rainbow Gold’s Family Camps in October. The experience I got at that camp was one I will always remember. As a mom, I was able to connect with other parents who have “been in my shoes” and my children were able to connect with siblings and others who have been through the very same experiences we had. Camp had everything set up and we were able to enjoy a much-needed weekend away connecting and bonding not only as a family but with others as well.
A childhood cancer diagnosis affects the entire family and not just the diagnosed child. Camp Rainbow Gold is providing amazing experiences so that my family and so many other families can enjoy time to bond and connect in one of the most stressful times in their lives.