On Sunday, 26 children with cancer – who are known as campers – started a weeklong camp at Camp Quality, west of Neosho.

"Our goal is to let kids with cancer be kids again," said Dave Adams, former camp director. "So during this week, we are going to do everything typically you do at a summer camp. We are going to fish, swim, have a talent show, a dance lined up, the Shriners (from Neosho and Joplin) were out today (Sunday) giving the kids car rides, we have just got a lot of fun activities, some crafts in the morning, a lot of fun activities for the kids to do. (It is) just a normal week of summer camp to kind of break up what has become their routine of maybe not getting to be able to be a kid all of the time. So we are going to give them one week where it is all about them and they can just be a kid."

This year, their youngest camper is 5, with the oldest being 16.

Camp Quality is a camping experience and year-round support program for children with cancer and their families. In 1983, the first camp was founded in Sydney, Australia. This year, the local camp has been in existence for 25 years.

During the camp, each of the campers is pared up to a companion (which is a volunteer). This year's theme is Camp Quality Boot Camp.

"We are going to do a few activities throughout the week in regards to that, kind of celebrate our military, along with enjoying ourselves and having fun," Adams said. "Our big event this year is going to be our dance on Thursday night. We have got a bunch of prom dresses donated for all of the girls. We have got limousines picking up the kids, taking them to the Holiday Inn in Joplin, they donated their banquet facility. Outback Steakhouse has donated dinner, so they are going to have a nice sit down steak dinner. A DJ has donated his services this year, everything for that night was donated. We are going to have a big military ball and we are going to get these boys all dolled up in army gear, all the girls in dresses and we are going to have a good time."

Traditionally on opening day, the Christopher Foundation, named after Christopher Cooley, who actually was a camper years ago, presented a check and cooked dinner for the campers, companions and volunteers with the camp.

"We are presenting $3,000," said Cathy Cooley, mother of Christopher. "It (camp) is a great opportunity for these kids to get to come out here and be normal kids for a week, not have to worry about things. It is a great thing they do and we are glad to support them, help them out."

As far as what Adams thinks about the countless volunteers who either donate their time or items or money for this event, he is grateful.

"You know, I have always said, 'I may turn the key and start the motor, but I don't make it go,'" he said. "We have such a phenomenal group of volunteers that sit on our committees, come and spend time with these kids, without them, none of this is possible. Everything that we do is donated. We do a couple of fundraisers, we get tremendous support through that."

Adams is pleased to be a part of this camp.

"To be a part of something like this, I tell everyone over the years, I get more out of this than the kids do…" he said. "I have seen some of the smiles of these kids' faces. One little girl was smiling earlier today (Sunday) and all of it is worth it, when that one little girl smiles. She walked into the dress shop and froze."

The camp ends this Friday.