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Laughter Therapy: Camp Quality

If laughter is the best medicine, Camp Quality can be hereby referred to as a miracle ward. Providing a playful escape to children who have been touched by cancer, Camp Quality is dedicated to supporting families and taking their mind off the hospital visits, stress and inevitable sadness that have marked their child's illness. Although such children have been robbed of the perfectly carefree existence which marks the innocent mind, they come with a level of bravery that can only be present in those who have been untouched by cynicism or worst-case scenarios. After all, the human lust for life is most radiant when it is void of jaded perceptions; the telltale signs of time and experience. At Camp Quality, the devotion to extracting such a passion for living is almost palpable. And so when NBN newsreader Georgi Glover decided she needed to do something that would make a difference, being part of an experience that would enrich a child’s life seemed like the perfect answer.

“I spent a lot of time travelling in developing countries, so when I got back to Australia I just thought, we have so much here, there is so much more I can do with my life,” she explains of her decision to get involved with Camp Quality.

“I was in Peru at one stage and it was an absolutely freezing minus one degrees, and I was walking home from a restaurant with a couple friends. Along the way there were all of these people – some of them young kids – just sleeping on the side of the road with tiny shawls on. It was one of those moments where you’re like, wow, life is so fabulous for us in Australia… and I knew I had to do something to make a difference.”

It took Georgi three years to finally grab a volunteer spot at the camp, and she signed up well before she truly realised just how much she would get out of it as well. And so in late March she headed over to Collaroy, where she acted as a companion to Amelia, a six-year-old “gorgeous little girl” who was diagnosed with cancer when she was two. As one of the main purposes of the camp is to give parents a break, Georgi effectively took on the guardian job for the four days they were there.

“Our main role to make them laugh, have a good time and forget about everything,” she explains.
“It’s a real escape – they’re not really thinking about anything when they’re there. If they are, it’s your job to distract them from it. Most of the time kids are caught up in all the activities going on – it’s a little holiday designed for them.”

“Best of all, it makes you laugh, and you get to get back to your childhood a bit – just play games and be stupid. It’s four days of no makeup, just playing Jack in the Box and singing at the top of your lungs and going in jumping castles and running around. You let them run the show and you just have to be there for them.”

As Georgi describes, laughter is not only the best medicine, it’s also the best distraction. For a few days, the kids can forget about whatever it is that is making them sick and concentrate on having fun – an effective therapy in itself. But Georgi says the gloom and doom isn’t really all that noticeable when they’re at the camp, and that is largely because of the very children who are more than entitled to focus on it – but choose not to.
“Ironically, you get so much support from your kid,” says Georgi. “The children are so courageous, and they put on a brave face. If they have to have an injection or whatever, they just suck it up and move on with it, and these are children that are six or seven. They are so young and yet have so much maturity and resilience – it makes you want to be like that as well.”

It is exactly that sentiment which propelled Georgi to seek volunteer work with Camp Quality in the first place: “The idea is fantastic. Heaps and heaps of money is going towards research and a cure for cancer, and I just think this is more hands on. You get to be there for a child who has gone through cancer, not just as a sponsor but as someone who can form a long-term bond with them. That’s what drew me to it –it’s quite a different concept to other camps and clinics.”

As for her relationship with Amelia, Georgi is planning on meeting up with her in a couple weeks time, because as she puts it, “it may be selfish to say this, but you start doing it because you have so much fun yourself, instead of just being there for the child. We can all spare even just an hour each week to help other people. It really is so rewarding – I’ve gotten more out of it than Milly probably has. These kinds of things teach you how to be a better person.”

Camp Quality’s volunteers undergo interviews and training before they participate in the programs. For more information, click here. For further information on how you can help Camp Quality, visit their website.

Georgi & Amelia


words: Seema Duggal

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