Camp Quality: A special camp for special kids

BALD KNOB, AR (KAIT) -For 24 years the week before Fathers day has always been special for kids attending Camp Quality.

This week of summer camp is held for kids with and survivors of cancer and their siblings.

9 year old Savvy has a best friend at camp named Brooke.

"She's going through Chem right now and me and her have the same kind of cancer." Savvy said as we sat under a shade tree on a bench. "This is my third year at camp." she went on. Savvy is currently winning her battle and looks like any other girl, tan,fit with glasses sliding down her nose.

On a hot humid day the pool is the place to be. For the most part you can't tell who is currently undergoing treatment from kids who have won a round or just been diagnosed or their brothers or sisters. Being normal is what this camp is all about.

Camp Director Chris Jennings said that's what they try to achieve.

"Camp Quality provides fun and exciting camping experiences for children with cancer and their siblings for a week in the summer."

Jennings said that costs and the situation of cancer treatments often make it difficult for these kids to attend a regular camp. "So we provided a free camping program for kids from ages 4 to 17." He said.

The camp itself is held at Camp Powderfork located just outside Bald Knob.All the staff is volunteer, like the companions assigned to each kid. This is Stephanie Forte's sixth year.

Forte, "I came here with my sister as a camper and now I'm a companion and it's one of the best times of the year because I like helping all the kids."

Chris Jennings himself started out as a companion and has volunteered himself up the ladder to camp director. "Camp Quality is worldwide." he said "And it's not new at all to Arkansas. We started here in 1989."

Campers and companions are together all the time. They eat together and sleep in the same building. 4-year old Peyton is especially proud of his Buzz and Woody pajamas, they are working on the house keeping. Like any close quarters things do get thrown about a bit but hey, it's camp and it's the first day.

Stephanie came to camp with her sister and as a companion she says it's just like a regular camp. Doing regular camp things, like archery and fishing and dancing and singing.

"Like decorating our name tags. Water games in the pool. We built a boat today out of cardboard boxes and we get to race them in the pool. We have a shaving cream fight one day, all kinds of stuff." she said.

This is Georgia's first day at camp and her first time at camp. She too has cancer on the retreat. "Best part of camp?" I asked.

"The swimming and making friends. (Do you make friends easy) Pretty much." It was tough to interview her, for some reason she either was giggling or hiccupping.

This year a new pool opened with a great water slide. It was quite obviously the hit of the camp. I only got squirted twice with huge squirt guns.

Like any camper at any camp Savvy had her favorite things. "Swimming and playing in my cabin."

A special camp for very special kids.

"It's awesome" Georgia said.

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