Junior Summer Camp
A story by Scottish Disability Sport
We provided an all-inclusive annual multi-sport, pan disability residential sports camp held at Badaguish Activity Centre.
The camp was 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 28 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, watersports, 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 and 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. 84% of carer respondents indicated it gave them more time to spend with siblings of participants, 80% it gave them more time with their partner, 84% accessed leisure opportunities during this time and 92% 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
Start planning early, pre-site visits and early promotion and awareness-raising has been integral to the success of this project and in reaching the right people. Things can take time to filter through the various systems within local authorities so as much advance notice as possible assists greatly.
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.
Raising awareness of the full and partially funded places has been an important step forward for us. We can be confident now that those that would benefit from this experience, but who may otherwise not be able to afford it, are given the opportunity to participate
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.
Kerys really benefited from being with other disabled children and young people. She was very nervous about being away from her family and people she knows but this was handled so well with the other girls in her room taking on a mentoring role and really looking after her. Her confidence in her own abilities has grown and her self-confidence increased from the fantastic role models she met while at camp. She has been encouraged to be more independent and try things she would have asked for help with before. It is lovely that she has made friends she would otherwise never have met and has stayed in touch with them.
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.
Josh was made to feel very welcome and was remembered by the staff from previous camps. We felt happy leaving him at the camp and were told that he had participated in everything. This was down to the staff being so supportive and we know how much he enjoyed the whole experience. It allowed Emma to socialise with her peers when usually she will shy away. The team aspect takes Emma out her comfort zone but allows her to join in activities she won't usually get a chance too. It allowed her some respite from home life and her daily struggles. Abbie has made some lovely friends from the camp and a few have arranged a meet up which gives Abbie more confidence. Being able to take part in sport and socialise with other children gives Josh such a boost and helps him do things which are difficult for him. He is so happy when we collect him that we know he has enjoyed the experience. Doing all the physical activities is beneficial for Josh as he does not get the chance to do these things at home combined with meeting other people it is a very positive experience.
Carers of our participants feel more supported in their role and have witnessed positive impacts of the project.
Very similar to above, 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.
As the recent weather was extremely hot Kerry wasn't able to get outside with her friends. She has albinism and no melanin in her skin and is very sensitive to the sun, therefor an opportunity to socialise with new friends at camp was a lifesaver. (Weather turned cloudy). She was constantly on social media and very reluctant to leave her room at home. It was super to see him making new friends with people, less self conscious about his disability and just get on with things. Happy to help others to settle in, and to eg lead others on walk. Great to see this side of him develop since the first camp he attended 2 years ago. Camp helps self esteem hugely, and he really enjoys it. We have all absolutely benefited from the camp. Apart from the life affirming experience my daughter had I can honestly say that my husband and I felt totally refreshed. We were able to enjoy some hill walking without feeling that or daughter was "missing out" and worrying about what physio we would have to 'pack in' when we got home to compensate for the time we had off. We knew that while we were having a break she was having as much fun, which made it a real break for us as we did not have to worry about her. A very positive impact on my daughter. She was able to enjoy activities which would not usually be easily accessible to her. Her confidence is increased and she was on a complete high when we came to collect her. Furthermore, it gave her the opportunity to meet other young people with disabilities and it was a very affirming experience for her! When she was out pushing in her wheelchair today, I noticed she pushed faster and over a longer distance. When I commented she said "well some people at camp could do it so I can do it too!". I believe that this two day experience has been more inspirational for Charis than my years of trying to encourage her. The positive influence of adults and peers with disabilities cannot be underestimated and it has given me and her an increased positive hope for the future.
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.
Due to social and some physical difficulties summer is a time for my kids where if not managed they will become reclusive. Without set clubs and school they need daily encouragement, explanation and support to do things like interact with other people or need supervision when going on physical activities like cycles or long walks. Summer is a long time and the camp gave us a little break, knowing that or kids were being encouraged to interact, to join in and had things to do that were different than what we could provide for them. They were out exercising, mixing with people and having fun and not tied to their parents. They had independence and we were able to have a few days rest. I am just so happy Cadyn is happy coming as it keeps him active. Fantastic for Brendan and the main outcome was he made friends. My daughter absolutely loves the time she spends at this camp, the friends she makes and the activities. My daughter enjoyed the camp and constantly talks about the activities and was immediately looking forward to next year after this years camp finished. I know she has also made good friends with some of the other camp members and keeps in touch with them. I feel that these friendships are an additional and longer lasting benefit of these camps.