5 easy steps for creating community

Alicia Rosales, survivorship program navigator at St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute, also serves on the board of River Discovery, an Idaho non-profit that offers white water adventures for people dealing with cancer.

“Do you want to come on a 3-day camping/rafting adventure?” she asked. “As part of the volunteer staff?” Yeahhhh.


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Cover girl Alicia Rosales

There’s nothing like waking up to early morning light and smell of campfire smoke and mist rising off a river as a reminder that there are some important things in life. And watching TV or fighting rush hour traffic aren’t among them.

Yes, we need to battle traffic to get to jobs to pay the mortgage to keep a roof over the heads of our family. Yes, we need to clean house and take out the garbage. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with checking Facebook or playing Pokémon Go.

But we also occasionally need to get away and replenish our souls and reprioritize.

On the second evening of our weekend venture, Super Woman Alicia instructed each camper to find a stick. “One that speaks to you,” she said. (My stick didn’t actually say anything, but you never can be too sure about these things.)

Later around the campfire, she asked us to think about what in our lives limits us or holds us back. The idea was to symbolically throw that hindrance into the campfire.

One by one, campers tossed their sticks into the fire as they named what kept them from living fully:

“Uncertainty of the future.”

“Fear before getting the results of my follow-up tests.”

“Worrying about things I have absolutely no control over.”

* * *

Interestingly, the most important things in life aren’t things. They’re people. And with people, comes community and making memories and learning to unlearn our fears in order to give back.

Community is established while fighting similar battles — battles with disease, with pain; battles with uncertainty or loss of hope; battles on behalf of our loved ones.

In 5 easy steps, here’s one way to establish community:

1. Find a Super Woman (or Man) who knows how to get to an island in the middle of a river

2. Leave all electronic devices behind

3. Pitch a tent

4. Tell stories around a campfire

5. Go white water rafting with 23 of your closest friends (or 23 people you’ve never met, but before the weekend is over, will seem like some of your closest friends)


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Island Ranch near Cascade, Idaho


We 23 Idahoans and 1 Oregonian were all strangers at the beginning of the weekend. But by Sunday, after sharing much laughter and fabulous open-range cooking and white water crashing over us, there was some good camaraderie going on.

Thank you, Super Woman Alicia, Camp Nurse Shelby and Camp Chefs Jim & Mary, for a most fabulous weekend. It was community at its best.

What about you? Is it time to rethink some of your priorities? To de-clutter those things that take up too much time and don’t serve you well? To connect with people who can come alongside and help you fight your battles?

P.S. If you found this post helpful or inspirational, please share, tweet or pin!


Sarah’s poem — I am still me


One of your hugs would be nice right now


  1. Marlys-it was so nice meeting you on the river last weekend. Learning about your journey was inspiring. I wish you all the best as you move forward through the new paths that you are forging.
    Good luck.

  2. Joanne Pro Tefertiller

    Beautiful description of our weekend together. Such a pleasure to meet and visit with you

    • Loved the weekend together, Joanne! And I love knowing there is an extraordinary community of cancer survivors and co-survivors just across the Oregon/Idaho border. Thank you for your kind words. (Wouldn’t it be fabulous to meet up again at Paul and Shellie’s fundraising dinner in September!)

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