It all started with Harry and Sylvia Granader. They donated 87 acres of their Montana ranch plus seed money to begin constructing Camp Mak-A-Dream. Harry had been involved in building a Ronald McDonald House — a home away from home for families to stay free of charge while their children receive specialized medical treatment nearby — in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. When he visited patients in the hospital whose families were benefiting from the house’s existence, he decided he wanted to give them a chance so see a real working ranch in Montana. And he and Sylvia just happened to own one: the 6C in Gold Creek.
After building a coalition of business associates and community volunteers in Missoula, Montana, and raising enough funds to build the Camp facility on their donated land, Harry’s dream of bringing sick children to his beautiful neck of the woods became a reality in 1995. That first year Camp welcomed 46 children with cancer for a single camp session. By the next year, summer camp sessions increased from one to four.
The Granaders did all this never knowing how much it would (will) truly grow nor how large of an impact it would (will) have. They only hoped. Camp Mak-A-Dream today proves to be the Granaders’ dream of an energy source for campers — a place where they can instantly be part of an intimate community, one that would cheer them on toward victory and reserve judgment for their tears. Camp is a place where being hooked up to a central line or battling chronic fatigue doesn’t make a camper stand out. To each their own, together.
Since opening its doors, Camp Mak-A-Dream has welcomed thousands of participants from across the United States, Canada and several other countries. Camp continues to provide a cost-free, intimate Montana setting for survivors and their families to develop lasting relationships and gain resiliency today. These inclusive programs are the backbone of Camp and intended for everyone regardless of race, religion, age, class, gender identity and/or sexual orientation.
Harry died in August 2006, and we lost Sylvia a decade later in 2016 when she was in her late 90s. Both hold very special places in our hearts and will be honored and remembered at Camp for many years to come.