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Camp Quality celebrates 20th anniversary

Giving children with cancer hope and a break from everyday life is what Camp Quality is all about. Their mission is simple: “Letting Kids with Cancer be Kids Again.”  This year Camp Quality is celebrating 20 years of providing a safe and fun camping atmosphere with over 65 campers right here in Excelsior Springs at Lake Maurer, which is where the camp has been held since its move from Lake Doniphan.

Campers, volunteers and countless other helpers moved into their bunks Sunday morning, July 28, for a week-long stay filled with activities from sun-up to sundown. Camp Quality representative and volunteer Jacinda Farmer said that this year’s summer camp brought out 65 campers and 105 companions who are paired up with the campers.  There are also no fewer than five nurses on staff and countless other helpers and entertainers to keep the children busy with tons of activities.

“Being a companion is very rewarding and from my personal experience I have gained way more from this organization than I have given,” said Farmer.  “Companions must be a minimum of 18 years old, love children and be a role model for young campers.”  There are companions, junior companions, helpers and many more volunteers that make Camp Quality the success that it is for children dealing with various stages of cancer, from treatment to remission.  Farmer said Camp Quality is about hope for a cure and hope for the future.  In some instances campers also have siblings that come and stay with them; Farmer added that siblings oftentimes feel left behind and can use a break as well.

This year’s camp theme is “Imaginarium.” Farmer said she and the staff hope to teach the youngsters how to capture the scientific values of life.  Some of the activities campers will enjoy this week include arts and crafts, swimming, paddle boating, canoeing, fishing, tie-dyeing, kite building, boat races, building a volcano, Build-a-Bear, talent show, dance, marshmallow shooter building with a war at the end of the week, whiffle ball, night swimming, outdoor movie and jewelry night.

“In addition we have several groups coming out including the Corvettes, motorcycles, Chiefs Ambassadors, laser tag and also we are having a Mad Science group come out to provide entertainment for the campers,” said Farmer.

Kay Jensen, who brought the idea to the Midwest, founded Camp Quality in 1986.  Vera Entwistle originally founded it in Sydney, Australia, in 1983.  A physician once told Entwistle the following statement: “No one can do anything about the quantity of one’s life, but all of us can do something about the quality.”  Since then, Farmer said, there are 16 camps in 12 states.  In the mid 2000s Camp Quality began adding family weekends, winter camps, teen leadership camps, holiday get-togethers and various day events to provide opportunities for families facing similar challenges an opportunity to see each other outside a hospital environment.

“While our week-long residential camp is our signature event, we do provide these additional opportunities for our Camp Quality family to come together,” explained Farmer.

The majority of support for Camp Quality comes from the Kansas City community, but Farmer said there is quite a bit of monetary support that comes from local Optimist clubs.  Other organizations that help include Camps for Kids, the Kansas City Corvette Association and the KCIAA.

“We are funded primarily through these organizations, as well as grants in the KC community.  The Excelsior Springs Optimist Club and Junior Optimist have raised funds for us for years, and each year they bring out a spaghetti dinner for everyone at camp.  Without the generosity of these groups and organizations Camp Quality would not be in existence today,” said Farmer.

Camp Quality’s campers attend camp at no cost and enjoy the experience of a lifetime surrounded by volunteers who feel the same way.

Tyler, a Camp Quality volunteer companion, soared overhead on a zipline during Monday’s CQ activities. (Photo by Jae Juarez)

Tyler, a Camp Quality volunteer companion, soared overhead on a zipline during Monday’s CQ activities. (Photo by Jae Juarez)

By Jae Juarez •

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