Camp gives quality times for kids with cancer
Waikato / Bay of Plenty
SunLive article by Alisha Evans on 13 January 2020
A sea of colour and laughter fills the air dozens of kids and young adults take part in a colour fight. The fight is one of many activities campers at Camp Quality have enjoyed at their week long summer camp.
The Waikato / Bay of Plenty camp has been held at Aquinas College with 38 children across the region enjoying a week of activities.
Children and their companions have spent a day at the Huntly Speedway, been rock climbing, surfing, enjoyed the activities at Waimarino Adventure Park as well as a water bomb and colour fight.
Mat Synge acting regional manager says the goal of camp is to provide a quality experience for everyone. “So there's nothing we can do about the quantity of anyone's life - we can improve the quality.
“We’ve just run with the idea to try and run quality activities to improve the lives of children who have had bit of a crap time.
“It's that sense of family and community where everyone, all of the other kids here have been through obviously not the same but a similar journey.”
Jaxon Mair, from Mount Maunganui, says his favourite activity at this camp was getting in the water at Waimarino.
“I went on the blob, it's this big thing where people jump onto the back of it and then the person at the front, all the air goes to the front and then you go really high and into the water.”
This is Jaxon’s third camp he keeps coming back because of the fun activities and the friendships he creates.
“I like having companions and making some fun friends that are sort of the same as me.
“We did some things that some people might not ever do.”
Every child at the camp has a volunteer companion so they are buddied up one on one with a young adult who ensures they have a good time.
Jaxon’s companion Charlie Lin says, “Companions make sure the kids have quality time during the week, that they’re never by themselves, that we're facilitating them with activities they might not feel comfortable about, so making sure they're safe and making sure they feel encouraged.”
Neila Grace, 9, loved rock climbing because she overcame her fears whilst doing it.
“I was really quite scared when I was at the top but my friend Monique helped me and encouraged me to jump down. It was really fun.”
Neila, from Papamoa, values the companion system and her buddy for this camp is Monique Berger.
“I enjoy having fun with my companion and also meeting a new one every time.”
Monique says, “I've just loved getting to know Neila and watching her feel the fear and doing it anyway, especially the rock climbing. And how much she's grown over the week, she's gone from being quite quiet, to being a little bit louder and quite cheeky, which is awesome.”
This is Cara Weaver’s first year as a companion but she has been a part of Camp Quality for 12 years after starting as a camper at six-years-old.
“I really just love camp quality. It's such a good community, such a good feel.
“Everyone's so lovely, we all look after each other and we know each other quite well.
“It's really cool coming from being a camper and having somebody take care of like me as a little sick kid to being able to do that for somebody else, being able to give back to the people that helped me.
“It was a really cool place to come and just enjoy being a kid. I feel like with a lot of hospital visits and stuff like that, you kind of got into this real medical sort of feel and being able to come away for a week and even a couple of days during the winter and just have fun and enjoy life, that's a real treasure.”
Mat says they are always looking for volunteers especially male companions and the camps are completely free for campers and companions.
Cara says being a camper and companion has shaped her as a person.
“It's just an awesome thing to be a part of, it's so cool to be able to watch the kids grow and develop as they get older and then hopefully come back as companions. “I'd recommend anybody doing it that has a love for helping and giving back to the community.
“Especially these kids that have been through so much already in their short lives, it’s an awesome experience to be part of.”