Last year was my third year at River Discovery and each successive year brings me more happiness and hope through friendship and adventure. There are many great aspects of River Discovery, but its best attribute is that it treats everyone on the trip as a healthy adventurer able to take on challenges they are faced with despite their current medical condition. When I am on the River I forget about my struggles with cancer and the weaknesses I harbor; instead I am absorbed with the beauty of the river and the genuineness of the staff. One of the main reasons why River Discovery is so successful is that it is a metaphor for life. To me the river symbolizes the flow of time, the rapids represent adversity and challenge, and the flat water sections embody the stagnation of life energy. But despite the challenge of the rapids or the slowness of the flat water, we steadily journey down the river with hope and eager anticipation. River Discovery tempers its participants for real life experiences and teaches them the value of facing challenges that you know are inevitable, all while having a great time in a safe environment. River Discovery is successful on many levels of self development and gives the inspiration of strength to its participants. It's impossible to participate in River Discovery without transforming into a better version of yourself and discovering new strength inside you.
River Discovery was the best! I met some really amazing people! And best of all I got to raft on the MIddle Fork of the Salmon River. Something I never could have imagined doing after having cancer. During which time it was a very real possibility that I could have my leg amputated. Although I kept my leg thanks to the amazing doctors and other medical staff at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center I spent a year on crutches. That year was particularly depressing for me. At least when I was in the hospital I was one of the more mobil patients, but at school I was always being left behind and stared at. Getting to go on an amazing week long trek into the wild beauty of the Salmon really put me back on track with my life. I really can't wait until next years trip.
I was able to participate in River Discovery in 2011 as a breast cancer survivor, 6 months following chemo. My body still hurt, my hair was almost non existent and I was pretty defeated emotionally. The river trip addressed all of my needs and helped me "put my life pieces" back together again. I have since volunteered for and with River Discovery. I will always owe them a great debt for a life "reborn."
My son goes to River Discovery every year and he loves it. I cannot explain what River Discovery does for him. He gets a week long trip to just be him. No Dr's no mom's to ask how he is feeling...What a great program..
River Discovery gave me new life and freedom. Two years ago when I had a mascectomy, I learned very quickly, people were uncomfortable talking about cancer. I carried my fears and was depressed. However, sharing with other courageous women released me. I resumed my life but with a profound outlook. I have hope and courage. River Discovery made this all possible. I am in gratitude to the staff as they were selfless, guiding us and building trust.
I've been having the problem that words fail me when it comes to this experience. River Discovery runs an amazing program that provides just the right amount of adventure, relaxation, camaraderie and FUN with healthy doses of emotional support and opportunity for reflection. The volunteers and staff are some of the most caring and compassionate people I've met. When wildfires threatened to cancel our trip they went out of their way to make it happen when it surely would have been much easier for them to give up. This was truly the experience of a lifetime for me and I not only highly recommend it but will also continue to support this organization any way I can.
River Discovery is my favorite new nonprofit, EVER. As someone who has worked in nonprofits for 20+ years that's quite an endorsement. As a cancer survivor, heck as anyone, rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho was a trip of a lifetime. White sand beaches, 3 squares a day, unsurpassed weather, incredibly competent River Discovery volunteers and river guides, and the most beautiful river. (A huge hurrah also goes out to whomever saved the Frank Church Wilderness area. Wild and scenic is where it's at.) It shook some deep healing loose inside of me. My first day kayaking rapids elicited laughter from deep within, like being a little kid on a roller coaster for the first time - sheer joy at the adrenalin rush. And the camaraderie - cancer survivors from throughout the U.S., who just "got it." No need to explain the hell I've been through, just a set of awesome people focused on healing. The river literally moved us forward. I came home so deeply relaxed that it was revelatory - so that's what it feels to be unstressed! That was life changing, and it's not something that I get in a day-to-day setting. It's a gift of the wild and scenic, campfires, good company, and one amazing river. Floating down a river for days and days, and laughing so much left me feeling like *I* was floating, and so light of heart. Thanks to River Discovery, I found the healing I'd craved the entire 5-yr cancer journey. Now I know what that feels like. ( NB: I felt completely safe and cared for the whole week. The lack of cell phone service was a blessing - remember when we weren't on electronic leashes and could just be?) I thank River Discovery from the bottom of my heart, and I am so honored to have been included - I think this is *the* healing retreat for cancer survivors and I expect it to be mobbed for years to come.
This River Discovery is for adult cancer survivors. On my trip it was all woman with our "token" 83 year old man... what a hoot! I have some mobility issues because of my past medical problems and I was not sure I was going to be able to handle this trip. I found out on this exciting 5 day raft trip of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River that my life still has many exciting things to experience! The staff, rafting crew, and fellow survivors made this a trip of a lifetime for me.
Taking the week long trip down the Salmon River was life changing. The river shows you with each rapid, that while the waters are rough in spots. It does not last long and, and calmer water lies ahead.
Review from Guidestar
As a board member and volunteer for River Discovery i have had the pleasure of participating with all the staff and participants of this program. River Discovery continues to fine tune it's program, offer amazingly professional and excellent programs for cancer survivors and continues to grow each year. To see healing and growth happen in just six days of being with a group on the river is a gift for volunteers, staff and participants alike. I have seen first hand the impact this program has on all involved and am anxious to see it continue. We continue to seek partners who want to come alongside us and help us with talent as well as treasure so that lives will continue to be healed and changed.
As a friend and client of Joe and Fran Tonsmeire over the years, I have been involved with River Discovery since the beginnings. It has been a rewarding experience to participate with a group of energetic, passionate people in taking an idea and turning it into a reality. There have been a few bends in the road and some starts and stops but I believe at this juncture in the journey we have an amazing program in place. I have had the privilege of being on both the teen adventures as well as the adult trips. In a short amount of time, with all the right ingredients of river, food, fun, outdoors, professional guides, nature, sun, people and program, I've seen miracles occur. I have seen friendships form, attitudes change, healing happen and confidence, hope, and strength return. I would not continue to support, participate or volunteer my time if I did not believe in what i'm doing and experience the truth of it first hand. The changes and discoveries occur for all involved, staff and participants alike. There is just nothing like it.