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Hometown Helpers: Camp director brings laughter and smiles to kids battling cancer

Hometown Helpers

EastIdahoNews.com is introducing you to Hometown Helpers in our community. We want to spotlight a firefighter, police officer, city worker, and others who quietly keep our cities and counties running.

SWAN VALLEY -— This week, we are featuring Heather Olsen, the camp director at Camp Magical Moments — a place where kids battling cancer can go to escape their problems for a while and just play and have fun.

And Olsen’s main job is to bring a smile to every child’s face while they’re here.

Camp Magical Moments is a free weeklong camp held every June at Hansen Guest Ranch in Swan Valley.

Those who attend participate in activities such as paintballing, swimming, ziplining, horseback riding, arts and crafts, and rock climbing.

Olsen has served in this capacity since 2020 and she enjoys getting to know each child and providing an experience where they can enjoy being kids again.

“Some of them after their cancer treatment, they have some disabilities and it makes it a little trickier to do some of these activities. They just complete it and finish it and it’s great to see that,” says Olsen.

Most of the kids are from Idaho, Utah or Wyoming, but occasionally there are kids that come from other states. There was one kid from Texas and another from California in this year’s camp, which was held the week of June 12.

Olsen has been volunteering with Camp Magical Moments since 2006. She fell in love with it and has been coming back ever since.

“The kids are the best thing ever and they just get into your heart and you can’t help but come back,” she said, trying to hold back tears.

Unfortunately, not every child’s story has a happy ending. Some kids end up losing their battle with cancer and that’s one of the difficult parts of the job for Olsen.

“We have a celebration of life every year where we remember those that have passed away,” she said.

But to help her get through it, Olsen has a group of about 35 volunteers to help run the camp. It’s the contribution of these people that keeps the camp in operation, she says.

Olsen is grateful for their service and she refers to them as a garden of angels.

“We just become a tight-knit family out here,” she said.

And she’d love to see that family continue to grow by adding more volunteers to the camp.

To get involved or learn more about Camp Magical Moments, click here.

If you know a Hometown Helper that we should feature, email andrea.olson@eastidahonews.com.

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