Scotland Family Camp 2015
A story by Over The Wall
We ran a weekend Family Camp for families of children with serious and life limiting illnesses and disabilities.
13 families attended our camp, comprising 45 individual campers, made up of the ill child(ren), siblings and parents and / or carers. The campers came from across Scotland to attend camp which took place at Tulliallan castle in Fife from 15th to 17th May 2015.
What Scotland Family Camp 2015 did
Our Scotland Family Camp provided much needed respite for families who are dealing with the relentless pressures and challenges that serious illness in childhood brings. The impact is felt across the whole family and it can pull families apart.
Our camps give these families precious time to reconnect, to have fun, to try new activities, to achieve new things together and to laugh and relax together.
Our camp was supported by a team of 24 specially trained volunteers, 2 of whom were medical professionals who manned our special 'Med Shed' facility. The volunteers were supported in turn by our core staff team who run all our camps.
A full and varied programme of activities was provided throughout the 3 days of camp. From climbing wall, zip wire and archery to arts and crafts, creative writing, talent night and story telling. Whereas the children only saw the fun, these activities were carefully planned to help develop confidence, self-esteem and coping strategies that will bring about huge benefit, long after camp ends.
All campers were successfully encouraged to take time to meet and mix with their peers. Carers in particular enjoyed and gained from the opportunity to spend time with others who share the same challenges and frustrations and fed back that this helped reduce feelings of social isolation.
Families were referred to us by the children's consultants or specialist nurses with whom we have developed links (via Scotland Co-ordinator) and some applied directly to Over The Wall. In all cases, families were required to provide medical forms for the ill child, completed in part by their consultant or care provider.
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We also met some great families who were an inspiration to us and made us see what others could do in more challenging situations that ours. Camp has given us great memories which we will treasure for a long time.
These memories are so important to children with serious illness and their siblings. They only get one childhood and Over The Wall makes sure there is positivity and fun even through the tough times."
"At Family Camp, for the first time, there wasn’t an ‘elephant’ in the room. All of the families were in the same situation. So much of the camp was just pure fun and so light-hearted. It was brilliant! And it was also so nice that the parents could get to know other parents who were going through the same things.”
What Over The Wall has learnedWe have learned that it is better to have two volunteer helpers per family. This allows the family greater freedom during their break. So that they can break away and do different things if they choose and still be supported.
We learned that we need to maintain communication with families throughout the long period between applying for a place and camp, to minimise no shows and last minute cancellations. Due to the nature of our camps, there will always be some late cancellations that are unavoidable, we also learned that to keep the camp as full as possible and to avoid 'wasting' empty places, we need to maintain contact also with everyone on the wait list right up to the week before camp.