The 1980s: an era of many wonderful things including great music, “fab” fashion and big hair. There was no such thing as the internet, or a mobile phone, and to be cool all you needed was a Walkman!
It was also a time when a family who had had a child diagnosed with cancer was left feeling lonely, isolated and overwhelmed as they struggled to come to grips with the idea that only 3 out of every 10 kids who were diagnosed in that period would go on to grow into adulthood.
It was in this version of the world that the idea of Camp Quality was first conceived by our Founder Vera Entwistle and her husband Brian.
Quite simply, having become aware of just how tough the experience was for kids and their families, Vera and Brian set out to create an organisation that was dedicated to ensuring kids facing cancer were given every opportunity to still just be kids: to laugh with abandon, make new friends who “got it” as they were living it themselves, and to have adventures that other kids might have taken for granted.
35 years on there is still a passionate and dedicated team of people: both paid and volunteer, who work every day to ensure, where cancer can steal a childhood, we bring moments of fun, laughter and play back to them.
Every year in Australia nearly 11,000 children are trying to come to grips with their own cancer diagnosis and while survival rates have improved significantly to over 70%, the news is still stopping them in their tracks and launching them into an experience that no parent is every prepared for.
In addition to these kids, a further 60,000 are trying to understand what the diagnosis of a loved one (like their brother, sister, mother or father) means for them and their family. It’s not an easy question to answer and as they try to work through it their childhoods are often put on hold or even taken right away from them.
At Camp Quality, when cancer imposes the sterility of hospitals, or long periods of isolation on a child, we make sure there are people around them that “speak kid” to explain those confusing procedures and we provide the release of outdoor play, little mates to play with and glorious, grubby adventures.
When cancer takes Mum or Dad’s smiles away, we give them emotional support, the chance to share their fears with other parents who “get it” and the relief of laughter.
When cancer steals a kid’s energy and hair, or confidence, at school we send in puppet power to make sure other kids understand what’s going on and don’t make cancer harder.
And when cancer leaves a family reeling as they try to cope with Mum or Dad’s diagnosis, we help answer those questions the kids are bound to ask by speaking to them in a way that they understand through the use of technology and within their schools.
Ultimately, through our services and programs, which are all provided completely free of charge to those that need them, we work hard to make sure kids facing cancer are not defined by the experience.
We can only do this though thanks to the generosity of people just like you as we are 100% reliant on donations from individuals and businesses.
In the end, here at Camp Quality we recognise that we may not be able to stop children from being impacted by cancer – but we can absolutely stop it from stealing their childhoods.
Kylea Tink, Camp Quality CEO