Sibling, camper, companion: Jim’s Camp Quality journey
A young child battling cancer not only has a profound impact on the child themselves, but their loved ones too. Siblings often have a childhood different from their peers – whether it’s time spent in and out of hospital with their brother or sister, time away from Mum and Dad, or maybe missing out on other opportunities for fun and adventure.
Jim knows the experience of having a sibling battling cancer, and knows how tough it is. This summer, he returned to Camp Quality as a companion for the first time, helping to give kids like him and his brother fun, hope, and happiness.
Finding Camp Quality
Jim’s brother Hugh’s cancer was discovered on the day Jim was born, so Jim’s really been exposed to the illness since birth. After a year or so of intense treatment, Hugh made a full recovery – but not before being told about Camp Quality by some friendly nurses at hospital. Hugh went to his first camp and absolutely loved it.
While Hugh was having fun at camp, Jim got the opportunity to attend a special siblings camp, bringing together kids who shared the unique experience of growing up with a sibling battling cancer. Jim loved those camps, and got to have awesome experiences with other kids who knew exactly how he felt.
In 2010, a vacancy came up last minute at Hugh’s summer camp, and Jim got offered the spot on short notice. He leapt at the chance to go, having heard from his brother how great it was. Jim and Hugh had the best week together, getting up to all sorts of fun and adventure!
Coming out of his shell at camp
When Jim thinks back to his time as a camper with Camp Quality, he immediately thinks of how much camp enabled him to come out of his shell.
“As a young kid, you haven’t really had many experiences. I was a very scared kid for a long time, and always nervous about trying anything new. I spent a lot of time on the sidelines,” Jim recalls. “At camp, my companion let me take my time with things, giving me the quiet space I needed while also telling me it was okay to give things a go.”
For Jim, camp also meant he had the time and space to create his own experiences.
“When you’re the sibling of a child with cancer, a lot of attention has to go into your sibling,” he says. “I was never mad about it, as that’s just the way it is because their health and wellbeing are more pressing in the moment.”
But, it also meant that Jim missed out on some things.
“When Hugh first went to camp, I got a whole week with Mum and Dad where it felt like we could make up for some lost time. And when I got to go to camp myself, I got to have quality time with my brother I’d never had before and to also create my own fun and experiences.”
Becoming a companion
It’s those great experiences and quality times that drove Jim to become a companion in 2021.
“My brother and I both hold such special memories of our time at camp, so it makes sense to give those experiences back to kids battling cancer now,” says Jim. “Seeing how much joy my camper experienced – even the little things like riding in a police car or jumping into a lagoon – made me realise just how impactful fun and laughter can be for a kid who has been through some immense hardships.”
As a companion, Jim realised even more how close-knit the Camp Quality community is.
“Camp is really like one big family,” he says. “Both when it comes to the network of support you have at all times, and in how each camper is collectively looked after by a very thoughtful and consciously caring group of people.”
Jim had an awesome time with his camper, who was a ball of energy and positivity. He’s already decided to return next year – and he’s sure for many more to come after!
We love to see ex-campers returning to camp no matter how many years have passed. It’s such a special experience to see how Camp Quality has had a profound impact on the lives of people – whether it’s kids battling cancer themselves, or their loved ones battling the side effects.