Thank you Camp Quality

For over 40 years, Camp Quality has been bringing positivity, fun and laughter back into the lives of children facing cancer.

“Camp Quality was founded by Vera Entwistle in 1983 after she read a story about a child who was terminally ill with cancer laughing again on a camping trip.

“She decided that whilst she couldn’t increase the longevity of life for children diagnosed with cancer, she could improve the quality of life for these kids.,” said Deborah Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of Camp Quality.

As Camp Quality has grown, so too have, the services and programs they offer as well as the number of people they support.

“Vera took 40 kids to the first camp and now over 10,000 children and their families are registered for Camp Quality’s services and programs across Australia,” Deborah added.

In 2014, Camp Quality began supporting The Royal Children’s Hospital’s (RCH) Foundation, by providing vital funding for a Comfort First Clinician in the Children’s Cancer Centre (CCC).

This role is currently held by Jess Merolli. Employed as part of the CCC’s CARES (4 Kids) Program, which aims to reduce patient procedural pain and distress during cancer treatments by utilising play techniques and education, Jess is a qualified Child Life Therapist, and plays an integral role in supporting young patients.

For Camp Quality, supporting a position that makes a positive difference to the child patient and the family experience in hospital, is something they are incredibly proud of.

“At Camp Quality we believe that the right support during the cancer journey helps families to cope and build optimism and resilience for the tough road ahead.

“Families tell us that kids who are supported by the Child Life Therapists have a more positive experience in hospital whilst undergoing treatment. This helps to reduce anxiety and stress and helps improve the wellbeing of the entire family,” explained Deborah.

Camp Quality also brings joy to patients at the RCH with their Camp Quality Puppets that visit the bedsides of children during their time in hospital to provide some distraction and laughter.

“Our Camp Quality Puppets entertain children at their hospital bedside at the RCH, boosting their wellbeing through distraction from their illness and therapeutic laughter. We also offer Puppet Digital Playdates which are personalised 10-minute interactive sessions with the Camp Quality Puppets, conducted in real time on their mobile or other device,” said Deborah.

As Camp Quality moves into its 41st year of operation, Deborah is extremely excited for what their future holds.

“Camp Quality began with camps for kids diagnosed with cancer, but we now support children and their families on family camps and at our family retreats. We also provide age-appropriate information at school with our cancer education program performed by the Camp Quality Puppets, as well as online information for kids and parents in five different languages with our Kids Guide to Cancer app – these are just a few of our services,” she said.

“Over the past 40 years we have expanded the number of people we support to not only include a diagnosed child but their siblings too, as well as children aged 0-15 who have a parent undergoing treatment for cancer.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the RCH to expand the Child Life Therapy program in hospitals as well as the Puppet programs. Our aim is to reach even more children impacted by a cancer diagnosis. Together we can improve health outcomes and reduce the trauma of a cancer diagnosis, for all Australian children and their families,” Deborah added.