A look back on 37 years of Camp Quality
From a charity that struggled to fund its first camp and only ran one type of event, Camp Quality has come a long way! Take a trip down memory lane with this timeline of 37 years of Camp Quality and see how much we have grown.
1983 – Conception
Vera Entwistle arrived in Australia from America and tried to volunteer to support kids facing cancer. When she realised there was no such support program, she decided to start her own.
End of 1983 – First camp
Vera held the first Camp Quality camp with 38 campers and 38 companions. After plans to get corporate funding failed at the last moment, the camp was supported by the Saints Church, with financial aid from Rotary, Lions, Apex, churches and individuals. When the camp ended, the group was $389 short.
1985 – ‘Camp Quality’ name is registered in Australia
Vera got the idea for the Camp Quality name from a doctor who said, “No-one can add to the quantity of anyone’s life, but all of us can enhance the quality.” At this point in time, the survival rate of childhood cancer was much lower than today. Victor Alberts gave Vera permission to register his Australia Flag Hot Air Balloon design as the initial logo.
1988 – First Family Camp
After Good Morning Australia sent a television crew to a Camp Quality camp, founder Vera Entwistle received over 500 letters in the mail from doctors, nurses, children, and parents who wanted to support or attend the camps. Ansett Australia airline assisted in providing free air travel that led to 11 more camp locations around Australia and the introduction of Family Camps.
1989 – The Puppets are created
After talking to children who were attending school following cancer treatment, Vera was inspired to create the Camp Quality Puppet program. Based on real-life experiences, scripts were developed and, thanks to funding from Paul Newman and Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities, the program was offered for free in all schools.
2000 - New CEO Simon Roundtree appointed
Vera Entwistle and her husband Brian retired after 17 years of leading Camp Quality. Simon Rountree was appointed CEO.
2002 – The much-loved Giggle logo is introduced!
2014 – A big review of the services and programs
Camp Quality worked closely with charities Redkite and Canteen to ensure there was less duplication of services and programs and more collaboration. Camp Quality changed its age range of kids supported to 0-13 (previously 4-18). Child Life Therapy was expanded into four hospitals in NSW and Victoria. Camp Quality also expanded its existing programs to include kids facing a parent's cancer diagnosis.
2019 – Kids Impacted by a Carer’s Cancer (KICC) Camps are launched
Camp Quality identified an overwhelming need for more support of children facing a parent’s or carer's diagnosis. KICC Camps were based on the successful Kids’ Camp model and were introduced for kids 7-13 years old facing the cancer diagnosis of a parent or carer.
KICC-only programs, including KICC Family Camps and KICC Family Fun Days, were also introduced.
2020 – A new CEO, Deborah Thomas, and COVID-19
Our current CEO, Deborah Thomas, joined the Camp Quality team in January 2020.
Deborah soon faced the huge challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing to support the 8,900 kids registered for Camp Quality's services and programs.
This was the catalyst for Camp Quality’s digital transformation, starting with the Happiness Hub, home to kids’ activities, puppet videos, stories read aloud and wellbeing resources for parents.
Online fundraisers, such as Camp In for Camp Quality and Big Walk for Little Kids, were also launched to great success.
Virtual Camps and Puppet Digital Playdates were developed for kids facing cancer who were isolated by COVID-19, sickness or living in regional/rural areas who otherwise might have missed out.
Camp Quality changed the age group of kids supported to up to 15 years old.
2021 – The digital transformation continues
Camp Quality continued to grow into new spaces, including a partnership with cancer charity Canteen on the Parenting Through Cancer platform. This platform gives parents a place to connect online, find helpful resources and access a free telephone counselling service. Hospital support was increased for families by boosting Child Life Therapy hours in the oncology wards of the children’s hospitals, and the Primary School Cancer Education Program debuted a redeveloped show and puppets.
Today Camp Quality provides kids, their siblings, and parents with fun experiences, education, specialised cancer care, counselling, and a supportive community: in hospital, online, at school and away from it all on camps and at our retreats. Camp Quality services and programs are there to help kids and families at every stage of the cancer experience.
Over 8,900 kids aged up to 15 years, and almost 4,000 families, are registered for Camp Quality services and programs.
There are 1,200 volunteers registered with us.
A big, heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been a part of the Camp Quality family for the past 37 years!