Junior Summer Camp
A story by Scottish Disability Sport
We delivered an all-inclusive annual multi-sport, pan disability residential sports camp held at Badaguish Activity Centre. The camp was for four days long, very positive and intensive for participants and a great chance for carer respite sustained directly through time away at camp.
What Junior Summer Camp did
Scottish Disability Sport identified 25 volunteers who were interviewed and trained in preparation for the Summer Camp. Extensive pre-camp site visits were carried out by the Project Manager and an experienced expert in the field. The opportunity was promoted through our far-reaching national networks of disability specific organisations, local authorities, NHS and our member branches (85% coverage of Scotland) and our regional networks (100% coverage).
In order to access those that would benefit this experience most applications are not taken on a ‘first come’ basis. A deadline is set with various options available to submit e.g. online, paper, telephone and a certain amount of financially supported places are available so no-one misses out for financial reasons.
The youngsters undertook 14 different activities in the fully inclusive surroundings of the Badguish Centre in Aviemore, and we utilised the facilities on site as well as the Loch Insh Watersports Centre and Loch Morlich. The participants were divided into three teams for all activities which included adapted cycling, orienteering, water sports, team-building, an expedition and life skills.
All activities were centred on building confidence, resilience and working collectively to a common goal in a safe and enjoyable environment. All meals were taken together as a wider group with individual teams taking responsibility on rotation for preparation and clean-up under the watchful eye of a chef. The winning team were announced at a final prize-giving lunch before carers collected the youngsters and departed.
All feedback of participants and carers was unanimously positive about the camp, the venue and the activities they experienced. 87% of carer respondents indicated it gave them more time to spend with siblings of participants, 75% it gave them more time with their partner, 79% accessed leisure opportunities during this time and 93% said it gave them more time for themselves. 100% of respondents said their children enjoyed the camp and 100% said respite was a factor in applying.
What Scottish Disability Sport has learned
Surround yourself with people with a can'do attitude. Most challenges can be overcome by adaptability and flexibility of approach and a calm head in pressure situations.
Continually stretch yourself in the planning of activities, especially for what has been essentially a long-running project. Repetition and stagnation can happen when a freshness is not brought to proceedings. We endeavour to keep providing new and exciting challenges which presents its own challenges for the organisers but is well worth it in the long run, as participants' horizons are broadened considerably.
Utilise local authorities and other third sector agencies to help spread the word of the project. Word of mouth from engaged parents is a great way to engage new participants.
How Scottish Disability Sport has benefitted from the funding
The funding raised the profile of the organisation both nationally and in the local area of the Cairngorms. It brought awareness to the possibilities available to people with severe and complex physical or sensory disabilities and their ability to access challenging activities and environments. The reputation of the organisation is enhanced immensely thanks to the delivery of this project and that is down to the funders providing the opportunities. Every year we witness new participants with a different disability which broadens our experience and expertise to provide a fully inclusive environment for the group of youngsters.
Up to 40 more children and young people will feel more included and more confident in accessing sport and physical activity. Wider social networks will be improved.
36 youngsters took part in multiple sport and physical activities in a three day residential camp. Every single participant took part in every single activity. The camp inspired youngsters to meet up again thus extending their social circle and carers have cited a new-found resilience and confidence in their children. Participants have realised that these activities and environments are very much within their capabilities and parents feel their opportunities and mood have been elevated.
Aaron really enjoyed the camp. It really helped Aaron socialise and interact with people he didn't know which is normally a struggle for him. This was his second time at camp, it has brought him out of his shell and made him a more confident, positive young adult. He believes that he is more capable of achieving things he may not have thought possible. GREAT JOB GUYS!! New friendships made and confidence to try new things, it helped him become more independent. Having an opportunity for Aaron to interact with peers in a safe and happy environment and knowing it is helping him allows us to relax and take a break.
Carers witness a positive impact in the youngster's physical, social and emotional well-being as a result of the camp which eases some of the strains involved in caring.
As part of the parent evaluations we were seeing consistent messaging of improved physical, social and emotional well-being amongst the participants. There was explicit evidence given by carers to illustrate this in the post-project questionnaire. It was very evident that a lot of anxiety was being felt by both carers and participants who were attending for their first time. Following the camp the relief and motivation to continue felt by both groups was palpable.
There was less stress at home and less need for a regimented strict routine as Emma was away, this benefited her 2 brothers greatly. Having the freedom to carry on and be loud as younger children like and need was a much needed break. Our plan was to go rock pooling and take part in activities that are tricky to do with a child with disabilities. It means as a family we can relax knowing she is being cared for and having fun and also we know she benefits from not being with us all the time. Being with other people is a benefit to her which is important so it helps us not to have to worry about her for a time.
Carers of our participants feel more supported in their role and have witnessed positive impacts of the project.
Anecdotal evidence and submitted responses to the post event evaluations indicated. A large number of carers felt re-energised, reassured and enjoyed the chance not to think about the day-to-day necessities of caring for a youngster with a disability for a short period. The other major benefit was to the increased confidence and broader horizons that the youngsters had post project as compared to when they first arrived. This came across strongly in the feedback given but also camp staff were able to witness at first-hand the confidence growing through the participants.
Myself and my son are also affected by the same condition as my daughter. I am often very tired and sore but got a chance to rest. While Issy was away I was able to spend more time with my younger son and focus on him. In addition I took my older daughter and him on a family day trip which would have been more difficult for me supporting both of my disabled children. We felt surprisingly relaxed about her being away, knowing that she was being very well looked after and that you understood her needs. She felt normal, included and fully able to participate.
Youngsters are involved in regular sport and physical activity and have made a wider network of friends.
Follow-up by dedicated officers post-camp to determine the engagement participants have made since their involvement at camp. Support is given to participants to link them into sustained activity and wider social groups. The fact that it is familiar faces from camp that does this means that the participants are put at ease and are more likely to be honest in their thoughts. The friendships made are evident by returning campers, new campers and throughout the duration of the camp. It allows them to exist in an environment with their peers who may have been through similar situations and experiences as them and this creates a common theme or bond with each other.
Knowing Corey is being supported and encouraged to be active and involved in sport, means as parents you can take a guilt free break. "A fantastic camp, well done" New friendships were made and increased confidence to try new things. He was able to mix with other children who have disabilities and enjoy being part of a group. This gives him confidence in himself as well as being able to really enjoy the experience. He also finds the staff and helpers treat them all so well. The whole experience is positive. Always grows and develops confidence with each camp. It is a highlight of the year, and really enjoys the experience. We felt it helped Jay a lot with confidence and independence.