As the sun set on the last night of Camp Quality, 37 children and dozens of volunteers gathered by the shores of Lake Nipissing's West Arm to reflect on their battles with cancer. Intricately decorated luminaries lit a parade to the lake's edge and, one by one, private wishes were placed in a canoe, cast adrift and set on fire.
It was a remarkable ceremony, a solemn reminder that not all children's cancers end with the words remission" or cure"-- and each child knows it. These
memory moments" are a tradition at Camp Quality, a chance for every camper to look beyond camp week to the battles ahead, and to the battles of others.
Mostly, though, memory moments are remarkable because they so contrast with the week that comes before. For five days, dozens of children who have at one time battled cancer played at the water's edge, swam, painted, built crafts and played games--a feast of sunlight and fun punctuated with daily explosions of energy. Camp Quality, a sleep-away camp for children with cancer, comes alive one week every year. Campers are kept too busy to reflect on the one thing that brings them together. Until the last night.
* * *
Thursday afternoon, however, is anything but solemn. Campers wake up from afternoon rest period to find a 40-foot slippery slide awaiting them on the lawn and a large inflatable raft-- dubbed Big Mabel--hooked up to a speed boat waiting in the water.
Evan Lielkans, 14, can't wait to get in the water. In cancer remission since he was six, Evan's been to the camp every year since, save one year he had to leave early for basketball camp. He hedges on his favourite part of the week.
There's a lot to do here," the Sudbury native says, eyeing a large inner tube being hooked up to the back of a second speed boat.
I like to hang out, but I like the water, too. That's probably my favourite part."
Everything you need to know about Camp Quality is in its motto: Letting kids be kids." It begins with float plane rides on Monday, offered by local pilots on their own time and at their own expense. A crew of foresters from Domtar comes next, repelling the campers high into trees in intricate rigs. On Wednesday, the Sudbury Wings Motorcycle Club rumble in to give each camper a backseat ride. (This may be disxt year, owing to pending provincial legislation restricting children on the backs of motorbikes.) To read the rest of the article: http://www.nugget.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1682540