By Matt Kroschel
EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Summer camp is a tradition for many families in Colorado. At the Roundup River Ranch along the banks of the Colorado River near Gypsum, camp has a very special meaning for some incredible kids.
The camp allows children battling illnesses to escape their very serious and scary realities.
Roundup River Ranch looks like any other summer camp. And sounds like one, too. Everywhere you look, you see the smiles, you hear the laughter. And you feel their joy.
But these kids are dealing with a very real and scary diagnosis.
“It started out small but grew big, the size of a baseball,” said Ashton Passmore.
It was a brain tumor. The 15-year-old from Delta had his first surgery when he was only 2 years old.
Like the other campers attending this special summer camp, Ashton spent a significant portion of his childhood in hospital rooms.
If it wasn’t for the time at the camp, he thinks going through all of this would have been much harder.
The sprawling ranch located along the banks of the Colorado River near Glenwood Springs offers campers horseback riding, kayaking, fishing, archery, art programs and rock climbing.
“It’s not like you are one kid with the disability, you are like everyone else and you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” said camper Alaya Richardson.
The 17-year-old started coming to the ranch six years ago. This week marks her final summer camp, at least as a camper.
“I am really sad, I wish I could come back, but hopefully I can come back as a counselor,” Richardson added.
Every week, a new group of campers show up.
“We have kids who are on chemo treatments right now,” said founding Roundup River Ranch board member Dr. Lia Gore.
It is easy to see the passion and dedication the volunteers who serve as medical staff, support staff and counselors have for the ranch’s mission.
“We have had kids say, ‘You know what, I don’t want to have surgery again, but I want to do it because I need to do it so I can go back to camp,’” Gore said.
LINK: Roundup River Ranch