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Camp Journey NW: A Camp for Hope

Camp Journey NW provides medically supervised camp experiences for children and family touched by cancer



Camp Journey NW: A Camp for Hope:

Photo by Samantha “ Savvy” Houseman


 

By Taylor Shillam


“Our campers truly just want to be a kid for the week,” shares Belinda Jacobsen, executive director at Camp Journey NW. “They come to our camp because they often can’t go to traditional camps due to their specific needs.” 


Camp Journey NW is a medically supervised camp for children, aged 5 through 17, living with cancer. Campers can bring a sibling or buddy of their choosing to join them.


“Our caring, compassionate and trained team offers a fun, customized age-appropriate program in a safe environment,” Belinda shares. Every camp is designed to make it possible for those experiencing childhood cancer to experience “just being a kid” through a nurturing, worry-free, immersive experience. 


In 2024, they will offer three camps: Overnight, Day Camp, and Family Camp. For every event, local oncology physicians and nurses are on-site around the clock, volunteering their time and services. Belinda says all of the camp’s medical volunteers come from Sacred Heart Children's Hospital, keeping Camp Journey NW at the forefront of pediatric oncology.


In a setting designed to meet campers' needs, the Camp Journey NW environment encourages the confidence and self-reliance in its participants, "which often get lost in their struggle with the disease,” Belinda says. “The accompanying siblings and friends return home from the experience with new abilities to nurture and help others that they can use for a lifetime.” 


Camp Journey NW is located at Ross Point Camp and Conference Center in Post Falls, along the Spokane River. 


“Ross Point’s facility is beautiful, and they accommodate all of our campers’ needs,” Belinda shares. “As a medical camp, we also need to be within 45 minutes of Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, per our medical director’s requirements.” 

Community funding provides campers with housing, meals and camp activities.  


In the summer of 2023, Camp Journey NW saw approximately 50 campers participate. “At our largest in 2019, we had 134 campers and 90 volunteers,” Belinda remembers. “We anticipate 50-plus campers and 70 volunteers in 2024, but hope to return to 100 campers in the future.” 


She goes on to share, “Our camp population is only different because they are touched by cancer, but so are many others in their communities. To build community, you need to foster the children that are our future. Our campers need to have an outlet just like any other child. They want to be normal, if only for a week.” 


While the local community has always been very supportive, Belinda says Camp Journey NW is constantly looking for fundraising and donor opportunities to fund its camps. "We never charge our campers or their families for our camp — they have too many financial burdens already!" 


Their hope is that this year will bring a donation that could allow them to create an endowment that would sustain the camp for years to come. 


Above all, Camp Journey NW hopes to provide its campers with the chance to feel hope. Offering a break from worry about their diagnosis “helps them become better fighters of their own battle and eventually better citizens of their community.”

To learn more about participating in or supporting Camp Journey NW, visit CampJourneyNW.org or contact Belinda directly at Belinda@campjourneynw.org



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