The first time Vera Entwistle spoke to a hospital about her idea to take kids facing cancer on camp, she was told to find something else to do with her time.
“If I had a dollar for every time someone told me it wouldn’t work, I’d have been able to fund the Camp!” Vera laughs.
Luckily for the hundreds of thousands of kids facing cancer that Camp Quality would go on to support over the next thirty-five years, Vera was not deterred. After hearing how going camping had made a little girl with terminal cancer laugh again, Vera had vowed she would give that experience to other diagnosed children.
At the next hospital Vera visited her idea was applauded. She was taken to the children’s oncology ward to hear the kids ideas for what they wanted to do on Camp.
“The thing that impressed me was they asked for simple things; paddling a canoe or shooting a bow and arrow. I thought, ‘Yes, that’s easy, we can do that,’” Vera says.
Camp Quality has not looked back since.
In her seventeen years at the helm, Vera, with the unflinching support of her husband Brian, created Kids’ Camps, Family Camps and the Primary School Education Program. She helped communities launch their own Camp Qualitys, including overseas in Ireland, India and New Zealand. An indomitable leader, Vera raised funds and grew a dedicated crew of volunteers and, despite losing 37 of the 38 children from that first Camp, never wavered from her vision of improving the ‘quality’ of the lives of kids growing up with cancer, even though she couldn’t change the ‘quantity' of their lives.