Adventures for cancer survivors and loved ones of all ages!

Our unique adventure programs offer youth, teens and adults a life-changing experience in the great outdoors.  River Discovery adventures range from 1-day to 6-day river adventures, paddle board sessions, and survivor and co-survivor retreats. These programs immerse participants in the beauty and serenity of Idaho’s outdoors and expose them to the recuperative benefits of nature.

River Discovery programs often include hiking, swimming, rafting, paddle boarding and kayaking that strengthen the mind, body and spirit.  Activities can be customized to accommodate any fitness level or limitation; no experience required.  A medical release from a physician is required.

River Discovery contracts with a licensed outfitter to provide professional guides and high quality rafting and camping equipment. A safe and fulfilling adventure is a top priority so we always bring along professional medical and mental health volunteers. Each adventure promotes the essentials of healthy survivor-ship with frequent physical activity, good nutrition and a variety of activities to inspire, empower and heal survivors and their loved ones.

You may pre-register for each program by clicking the link below, additional registration paperwork will be emailed in order to complete your registration.  


Idaho City Snow Shoe & Hot Springs Adventure - February 1, 2019

Joe & Fran Tonsmeire Salmon River 6-day Adventure - August 24-30, 2019

3-day Adult Survivor & Co-Survivor Retreat - July 19-21, 2019

Youth Survivors and Family 1-day Adventure - June 26, 2019

Sunrise Retreat for Widows of Cancer - TBD

Healing Waters Family Float 1-day Adventure - August 7, 2019

Paddle Out Cancer Stand Up Paddle Board Sessions - Summer 2019

Outdoor Adventure Program Details

Youth and Family 1-day Adventures

Youth and Family 1-day Adventures. The Youth Survivor & Family Adventure, for pediatric cancer patients and their families, and the Healing Waters Family Float, for children or teens who have lost a parent to cancer and the rest of their surviving family.  This river adventure allows youth and their families to participate in an exciting adventure that promotes healing and strengthens the mind, body and spirit.  This fun filled day on the Cabarton Run of the Payette River is perfect for kids and busy families.  It provides a great opportunity to build family bonds, challenge each other, and enjoy Idaho’s natural beauty while experiencing a fun and educational adventure on the river.   

1-day youth and family adventures are offered for free to children 6 years+ and their families (max of 6, this is negotiable). Please complete the  pre-registration form now to reserve your spot.  


Joe & Fran Tonsmeire Salmon River Adventure

August 24-30, 2019. This 6-day Adult Adventure program offers cancer survivors 18 and older a trip of a lifetime.  This 6 day/5 night adventure will give them the opportunity to meet and bond with other adult survivors while rafting and camping on the beautiful sandy beaches of the Main Salmon River.

Participants must pre-register for a lottery draw- pre-registrations are accepted through March 31, 2019.  A lottery draw will take place on April 1st and the 1st round of select participants will be notified and given the opportunity to hold their spot. The river adventure programs are offered for free, although an application fee is required. All selected participants require a medical release from their physician in order to complete the registration.

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Paddle Out Cancer: Stand-up Paddle Board Sessions

Stand-up Paddle Board (SUP) is a great opportunity to learn a new outdoor sport that is tailored to your ability.  Paddle Boarding offers you a chance to experience a water activity working on your strength, flexibility, balance and paddling fun.  Paddle Boarding can be customized to your abilities and is a great introduction to water activities.

This adventure is scheduled in partnership with our friends at Idaho River Sports throughout the summer. Participants will have two hours to paddle around the beautiful new ponds at Boise's Ester Simplot Park.  Cancer patients and survivors are free of charge.  Caregivers will be charged a $10 fee and are encouraged to join in the fun. 


3-day Adult Survivor & Co-Survivor Retreat

July 19-21, 2019. This is a spectacular 3-day adventure for Adult Cancer Survivors and 1 Co-Survivor/Caregiver. This retreat takes place in Idaho’s beautiful Cascade, ID on the banks of the Payette River.  Participants will have the opportunity to challenge themselves with rafting, kayaking, paddle boarding, hikes and more. This unique opportunity also offer the chance to connect and share it all with a with someone special who has been on this cancer journey with you. Participants must pre-register for a lottery draw, pre-registrations are accepted until March 31, 2019.  A lottery draw will take place on April 1, 2019 and the 1st round of select participants will be notified and given the opportunity to hold their spot. The adventure program is free but does require a $30 per couple registration fee.  A complete application with medical release is required for participation.  


Sunrise Retreat for Widows of Cancer

2019 TBD.  A retreat experience for widows of cancer to replenish, rejuvenate and re-ignite their spirit.  Relax by the creek-side camp fire, have a massage, rise to the gentle flow of yoga, seek adventure as we paddle the Payette River, find creative inspiration through art and connect with other widows. A beautiful natural setting that supports, nourishes, celebrates and honors the widow’s journey.  Participants must pre-register for a lottery draw, pre-registrations are accepted throu March 31, 2018.  A lottery draw will take place on April 1, 2018.   Space is limited to 8. A $30 registration fee is required. All other onsite expenses covered.   Join the Sunrise Retreat Facebook page HERE

Learn More About Your Resource Team HERE

Outdoor Adventure Program Testimonials

“Each one of the families on the river that day had a positive, bonding, and stress-free experience that is hard to come by when a child is battling cancer.”  Malia W, Child Life Specialist (1- Day youth and family trip)

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.”  ~ ToryTory (6 day Participant)

“It was life changing.  I accomplished some things that I never thought I would even participate in like rock jumping, rappelling.  The time spent making new friends and forming life-long relationships was priceless.  Everything that we participated in was well planned and executed.  I only wish that it would have been a 10 day trip, reason being is that it seemed too soon to part ways as we were just getting to know each other.  But that is the beauty of life-long relationships.” Deb, 47 – 2013 6-day Participant

"I thought it was fabulous.  I have talked about it to everyone and his/her brother.  Every time I tell someone about it, I get all energized again.  It was truly a trip of a lifetime for me.  I never, ever thought I would have an experience such as this again and i am grateful beyond words.” Liz, 66 – 2013 6-day Participant

“This was an amazing experience…lifelong friendships were made with other survivors; the scenery was completely healing to the soul and breathtaking; the staff and guides were wonderful, providing history and insight along the river trip; showing us a time-honored way of life along the river with traits such as respect, courage, responsibility and perseverance. The food was incredible; not only were the meals delicious and visually appealing, the quality of the food was outstanding. Who knew you could make these types of meals on an open flame? Certainly not me!”  Julie, 48 – 2013 participant

“This was a great trip.  It’s nice to forget about the struggles of life and cancer for a while.”  Kyle -Dad on 1 day Youth Survivor and Family adventure 2013

“When you have a child with cancer you spend an unbelievable amount of time dealing with their appointments, medications, side effects and emotions.  All of this comes at a cost – time spent away from your other children.  The River Discovery trip gave us a chance to get away from all the pressure and stress and enjoy each other fully.  It was wonderful to be in the company of other families who understand and connect with you immediately.  The river was healing too—it was great to be outside, to laugh, to splash—to feel human again.  Thank you.”  Lonnie, Mom on 1-day Youth/Teen Survivor and Family adventure 2013

“I rode two of the hardest rapids on the bull and made a new friend named Canyon.  I had so much fun!!”  Kade, 10, Youth 1-day participant 2013

“It (River Discovery adult 6-day trip) changed the quality of my life, and because I was treated so well on the river – all my needs met, the incredible healing qualities of wilderness — I’ve been treating myself much better since. So there’s a lasting effect. Now I know what being really relaxed feels like (buoyant), and how to get there. I hadn’t been that relaxed for 5 years or more."  Amanda, 39 – 2012 6 -day participant

“We all worked so well together and had a great time taking on the rapids and getting our minds off of cancer.” ~ Rachel, 2011 Teen Adventure

River RX: Cancer patients, survivors find healing on the water

Mosaic Art Program

Mosaic Arts provided to St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital brought to you by River Discovery and Mosaic Essentials ~

When Joe Tonsmeire received his cancer treatment at St. Luke’s his family spent a lot of time there.  An afternoon escape from the hospital Joe found Reham Aarti’s shop nearby and worked with her to bring mosaic art projects to the children in the hospital.

Mosaic art materials are provided to St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital for all children in treatment to create an expressive art project. Pieces can be created either in a group setting or individually in their rooms. These mosaic pieces are created by the young artists with wooden cut outs, ceramic and glass tiles, buttons, rocks, and beads. Reham Aarti assists with grouting the final pieces.  Art work is then returned to the young creative artist for a keepsake.