Red Sky Gives Back: Gone Camping

Last year, Red Sky began a new tradition. We wanted our team to have more of a say in where our philanthropic dollars went, and to truly experience the power of giving. Through #RedSkyGivesBack 2013, we gave every employee $100 and the time and choice to figure out how to donate and get involved. Everyone chose a different organization and cause, and shared the story behind their choice to amplify those worthy missions.

This year, we instituted a company-wide policy giving every employee paid time off monthly for charitable work throughout the year. And for #RedSkyGivesBack 2014, we also offered to match whatever they donated on top of the $100 from the agency. Amanda Watson kicks off our #RedSkyGivesBack effort with her time at camp.

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By Amanda Watson

AWatson This was never supposed to be about me. Two weekends ago I headed to Camp Rainbow Gold’s Family Winter Retreat to help provide support. For others. As a volunteer, I assumed I was going to scrape plates, facilitate schedules and sweep floors. I did those things, most definitely, but what I didn’t anticipate was how deeply this weekend was going to move me.

Although I have worked for three years now with Camp Rainbow Gold, either as a contractor, a board member or simply a volunteer, I never realized the effect four simple days could have on a person. If you’re unfamiliar, Camp Rainbow Gold is an organization that takes everything that is ugly and awful about childhood cancer and makes something beautiful. A safe place. A place of solace and refuge for families who have faced the brutal, unfair reality of a child in their family with a cancer diagnosis.

Awatson2The team at camp was comprised entirely of volunteers, some who have been giving their time for more than a decade. They work hard every minute to ensure the visiting families feel safe, relaxed and unburdened. Nurses who work extremely long hours with taxing schedules plan their year so they can volunteer at camp. Cancer survivors who were previously campers come back to serve the families facing the same things they once had to. In short, the volunteers alone have an amazing story.

Then there are the families facing what seem to be insurmountable odds. Two different families I met this past weekend lost a child within the last several months. Two other families have children or family members with pretty severe disabilities who are also fighting cancer. Others are dealing with the painful after effects of cancer treatment that impede the simple joys of being a child.

AWatson4The mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and the cancer survivors I met this weekend were like superheroes to me. When it would be so easy to allow the pain and the injustice of a child’s cancer diagnosis to crumble the morale of a family, instead what I saw was something spectacular; hope. And, while this weekend was never meant to be about me, I came away with a completely changed perspective. As a person who tends to worry about everything and stress about the small things, it is like a tsunami of reality for me to see how these families can face what they do with a smile and a laugh.

Thanks to my company, Red Sky, for giving me paid time away from work to spend at camp and for the monetary contribution they’ve designated for me to give to Camp Rainbow Gold. To all the volunteers and leadership who make this organization possible—you’re the salt of the earth and just being around you all makes me better. I am so grateful to be a part of this rockin’ family. If anyone you know is interested in the experience I just had, or if you’d like to give, please check out Camp Rainbow Gold.

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