Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
For nearly three decades Camp Prime Time has provided children with special needs and those fighting life-threatening illnesses a place to relax, enjoy the outdoors, met other kids with similar challenges, and just be themselves without judgment from others. Yet what makes Camp Prime Time truly unique is these children get to experience this time with their families and, it’s all free. It’s the only known program of its type in the Western half of the United States. What started with taking a couple physically handicapped boys fishing on the Yakima River turned into a non-profit organization that purchased several acres above Rimrock Lake, Washington within four years.
Their goal was to provide these children a place to camp, fish, hike, and play games along with their parents and siblings - not a place for the family to drop them off for a weekend. According to Diane Eilmes, executive director for Camp Prime Time, “The organization quickly learned that parents receive just as much therapy and enjoyment out of the experience than their children. It’s a place with no phones, no worries about medical treatments, their children can play and be themselves with no ridicule or glares from strangers. They also meet and create friendships with many of these lasting a lifetime. It’s a real treat to be around these families and many of them are our biggest supporters.”
The retreats typically begin the first weekend in June and run through mid-October. In some years the demand has been so high they’ve added midweek sessions. To keep up with this demand, the past few years have seen several facility upgrades at the campsite in addition to expanding the main clubhouse. When completed, volunteer living cabins will be renovated to accommodate more families. This year Camp Prime Time is celebrating its 25th year knowing it has impacted thousands of families from all over the West Coast. The organization is now part of the fabric of the Yakima Valley through the over 300 volunteers who work at the campsite each year to the local families who take advantage of the relaxation and therapy it provides. The organization is another testament to the generosity of Yakima Valley residents who consistently support Camp Prime Time through their time and gift giving.