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Royal Family Kids Camp Montana continues legacy of founder lost to cancer

Joseph and Amy Rowan started the Montana chapter nine years ago, after realizing Montana's need for such a resource.
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Posted at 11:15 AM, Jun 24, 2024

BOZEMAN — For nine years, Royal Family Kids Camp Montana has been bringing together foster youth from around the state.

After the tragic passing of co-founder Amy Rowan in January, her family and volunteers vow to keep the legacy alive.

"She just showed unconditional love all the time. And almost all the kids at the camp have been here before and they loved her deeply, just as she loved them," Says Joseph Rowan, Amy's husband and camp director.

Amy passed away after a battle with cancer, but her husband says she never stopped fighting for Montana’s foster youth: "She said, 'Child abuse doesn’t stop just because I’m sick.'"

Royal Family Kids Camps is a national organization with over 200 camps across the country. After recognizing Montana’s need for such a resource, the Rowans opened the first Montana chapter in 2015.

"You know, there’s obviously a lot of challenges in their life. And probably one of the biggest ones is they have been thrust into adulthood and they don’t really get to be a kid," Rowan says.

"When they first get here, they pull up the bus, and we literally roll out a red carpet for them and we cheer, and we have signs with their name on it," he says.

Former participants often come back as Camp Cousins, to lead a new group of foster youth every year—and they explain why this sort of experience is so important.

"Right now, we’re focusing on them and not on anything else. Just on them," says Max Gray, Camp Cousin.

"I just love this camp. You always feel safe here and it’s just always a nice place to come back to," says Camp Cousin Samanth Beals.

Rowan also says foster youth often struggle to feel accepted by their peers, but coming to camp allows them to connect with others who understand their circumstances.

"Even when they don’t feel like someone is looking out for them, there is absolutely someone looking out for them. And it’s someone who enjoys their company and wants them there," says Camp Cousin Jessica Cramer.

Despite the challenges the camp faced organizing without Amy, Joseph says with the help of volunteers, they made it happen.

"These kids are just too important for me to not give them my best. And so, they get the best that I have every year," says Rowan.

For more information on Royal Family Kid Camp Montana, visit the Facebook page or the national website.