OUR HISTORY

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 Camp Quality – and see how much we have grown.

A newspaper clipping about Camp Quality starting in 1983

1983 – Conception of Camp Quality

Our wonderful founder, Vera Entwistle, arrives in Australia from the United States. When she attempts to find a volunteer position in support of kids facing cancer, she is dismayed to find there’s no such charity here. So she decides to start her own!

End of 1983 – Our inaugural camp

Vera holds the very first Kids’ Camp. Despite ending up over $300 in the red, for her and the children it is a major success. Everyone tells her it can’t be done, but she does it, and the doctors start reporting amazing wellbeing changes in the kids – who are now keenly looking forward to their next camp.

Camp Quality's founder

Hear from Vera Entwistle

Camp Quality's balloon logo from 1985

1985 – ‘Camp Quality’ name is registered in Australia

Vera receives inspiration for the Camp Quality name from a doctor, who says: “No-one can add to the quantity of anyone’s life, but all of us can enhance the quality.” Sadly, only one of the children who attends the first camp survives cancer, as survival rates in 1983 are much lower than they are today.

This is also the year Victor Alberts gives Vera permission to register his Australia Flag Hot Air Balloon design as Camp Quality’s initial logo.

A child, a man, and Camp Quality founder, Vera Entwistle, pose for a photograph at the first Camp Quality Family Camp in 1988

1988 – First Family Camp

After Good Morning Australia sends a television crew to a Camp Quality camp, Vera receives more than 500 letters in the mail from doctors, nurses, children and parents who want to support or attend her camps.

Things really start to take off when Ansett Australia airline assists in providing free air travel – leading to 11 more camp locations around Australia and the introduction of Family Camps.

A newspaper clipping about the start of the Camp Quality puppets

1989 – The Camp Quality Puppets are born

Vera is motivated to create the Camp Quality Puppet program after talking to kids returning to school following cancer treatment. Based on the children’s real-life experiences, scripts are developed and, thanks to funding from Paul Newman and Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities, the cancer education program is offered for free in all schools.

Camp Quality's old Giggle logo from 2002

2002 – The much-loved Giggle logo is introduced!

2000 – New CEO Simon Rountree takes the reins

Vera and her husband, Brian, retire after 17 memorable years at the helm of Camp Quality. A new era begins when Simon Rountree is appointed as our new CEO.

A parent impacted by cancer hugs her daughter at a Camp Quality event

2014 – A big overhaul of our services and programs

Camp Quality joins forces with fellow cancer charities Redkite and Canteen to ensure there is less duplication of services and programs and more collaboration. Our vital Child Life Therapy program is now expanded into four hospitals in NSW and Victoria. We also change the age range of kids supported to 0-13 (previously 4-18).

2019 – Kids Impacted by a Carer’s Cancer (KICC) Camps are launched

Camp Quality recognises the overwhelming need to support children who are facing a parent’s or carer’s cancer diagnosis. So KICC Camps are rolled out for children 7-13 years old based on our successful Kids’ Camp model.

KICC-only programs, including KICC Family Camps and KICC Family Fun Days, are also introduced for our registered families.

Deborah Thomas, Camp Quality CEO

2020 – New CEO Deborah Thomas, and COVID-19

Our current CEO, Deborah Thomas, joins the Camp Quality family in January 2020 – and what a year it proves to be. Deborah soon faces the huge challenge of COVID-19, and how to continue supporting the 8,900 kids registered with Camp Quality in the midst of a pandemic.

Thankfully the team is able to quickly pivot, and the pandemic becomes a catalyst for Camp Quality’s digital transformation. This starts with the launch of our Happiness Hub website and online fundraisers, such as Camp In and Big Walk for Little Kids, are launched to great success.

Virtual Camps and Puppet Digital Playdates are developed for kids facing cancer who are isolated by the pandemic, ongoing health concerns, or living in remote rural areas. The success of our new online services means we are able to expand our reach, and provide much-needed services to kids who otherwise may have missed out. Camp Quality also changes the age group of children we support, now up to 15 years old.

A Camp Quality kid accesses digital services on her tablet device

2021 – The digital revolution rolls on

Camp Quality extends support into new spaces, including an exciting partnership with cancer charity Canteen and the joint launch of the Parenting Through Cancer platform. This website gives parents a place to connect with each other, find helpful resources, and access a free telephone counselling service.

Hospital support is also increased for families with our support of more Child Life Therapy hours in oncology wards of children’s hospitals. And our revamped Cancer Education Program debuts a redeveloped show – as well as brand new puppets!

A Camp Quality family cheer at a Family Camp

2022 – and beyond

Today Camp Quality continues to bring positivity, fun and laughter back into the lives of kids facing cancer.

Camp Quality’s services and programs help families build optimism and resilience through community, education and fun. We are there for kids (0-15) dealing with their own cancer diagnosis, or the diagnosis of a sibling or parent, every step of the way.

Over 9,000 kids aged up to 15 years, and over 4,100 families, are registered for Camp Quality’s free services and programs.

There are more than 1,100 volunteers registered with us, and we appreciate them greatly!

A big, heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been a part of the Camp Quality family– as we look forward with optimism to the decades ahead.

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We rely almost entirely on the generosity of everyday Australians, major donors, corporate partners, and trusts and foundations, to help us provide our services and programs free of charge.

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