Doing more than she thought she could: Gabby’s Camp Quality story
When Gabby was just four years old, she was diagnosed with dyskeratosis congenita – a rare disorder that effectively makes her body age prematurely.
By five years old, she was already having bone marrow failure and needed a transplant. At 12, she has severe osteopenia (a condition which affects the bones) and fractures very easily. She also suffers from fatigue, getting tired really quickly.
Getting through school is hard – she usually manages only two or three days maximum a week because she’s so tired. And school camps? They’re a whole other challenge.
“She’s been on year five and year six camp, but it’s just really exhausting,” says Gabby’s mum Megan. “She doesn’t have a teacher aide, so I’ve gone on both camps with her to make sure she’s got the care and rest she needs.”
Enter Camp Quality…
A couple of years ago, Gabby and her mum were introduced to Camp Quality through the Child Cancer Foundation.
“I was meant to go in January last year, but in August we went into lockdown and didn’t have camp,” shares Gabby. “I was sort of relieved because I was very nervous to go to camp without someone I know.”
When she found out camp was finally going ahead this year, she says she was “still a little bit nervous,” but excited too.
For mum Megan, it was pretty daunting as well. “It was the longest we’d ever been apart, so I was a little bit nervous too. But I knew she’d be fine – having someone look after her one-on-one made a world of difference.”
Before camp, the Camp Quality team spent time getting to know Gabby and matched her up with her companion, Zoe.
“Knowing that they put all that groundwork in to match them made me know she was in good hands.”
Going to camp
Once she was at camp, the nerves started to fall away.
“When I got to camp, I was still nervous because I had to bunk with three other kids and their companions who I didn’t know,” shares Gabby. “But it was really nice once we got to know each other and we had a fun bunk room.”
At school camp, Gabby often misses out on doing lots of the activities due to tiredness. But at Camp Quality, she was able to do almost everything – from going to laser strike, to doing arts and crafts, to making pizzas, to disco night.
And because Camp Quality builds rest into the camps, she was able to recover and came back feeling better than ever.
“School camps are next level – just go, go, go all day with no downtime. Camp Quality is so important because she can just be like all the other kids and do all the fun stuff,” says Megan.
Flying high on that Camp Quality buzz
“When she came off the plane, I expected her to be an absolute wreck,” says Megan. “She can barely manage two days in a row at school so with being away for five days I thought she’d be exhausted.
“But she came off the plane just buzzing; excited to show us what she’d made and tell us about camp. She was just flying high for two or three days.”
Gabby’s now excitedly looking forward to camp 2024, hoping that she can have Zoe as her companion again.
Plus, she’s already started telling other kids about Camp Quality – apparently she couldn’t stop talking about it when they bumped into a little boy they know who has cancer! Mum Megan says that’s a sign of the confidence that Camp Quality gave her – she would never have talked to a stranger like that before going.
“It gives her something to look forward to and made her realise she could do more than she thought she could.”