Scotland Family Camp
A story by Over The Wall
We ran a weekend Family Camp for children with serious and life limiting illnesses, their parents or carers and siblings.
The camp catered for families from across Scotland and provided the whole family with a much needed respite from the pressures of daily life.
What Scotland Family Camp did
OTW's annual Therapeutic Recreation Family Camp for families in Scotland caters for whole family units who have been struggling with the pervasive difficulties that arise from serious illness in children. The camp is run at no cost to the children’s families. The 2014 Scotland Family Camp took place at Tulliallan Castle Fife, from Friday 2nd May to Sunday 4th May inclusive. We provided support to 52 individual campers.
Our Family Camps are designed to increase the self-esteem, confidence and resilience of not only the child with the illness, but also their siblings and parents. For many of our families, this will be the only holiday they get together; the first time they have shared a meal together in months. Family Camp gives them an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company, try new things, challenge each other, laugh together, relax and re-connect as a family.
Family Camp also gave every member of each family an opportunity to meet and talk with their peers who share the same challenges, worries and frustrations. Carers who have attended camp told us that they found the ability to talk to other parents invaluable, and that they have developed new networks of support as a result.
Family Camp also aims to help families develop coping strategies to help them collectively face the challenges of the ill child's diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. As with all our camps, the emphasis was on fun, and the provision of exciting activities including archery, zip wires, climbing wall, and the mega swing as well as creative writing, music and arts and crafts activities.
Family Camp serves as an introduction to our other programme's and gives parents (and children) confidence to access to our week-long camps for seriously ill children and their siblings.
" We had such a warm welcome to camp. I can see a positive change in our family. We are stronger and we talk all the time about camp. It was a really fun break and a great confidence builder for the kids. We all loved the family trial and games and the kids really loved the swimming. We had great support from our own 2 volunteers, Ali and Will but also from all the other staff and volunteers at camp. I would definitely recommend Family Camp to another carer. Keep up the good work!"
"Simon, my son, was in a wheelchair for about 18 months during treatment. He has only been out of it for a few weeks and wasn't confident, but at camp, he started running again and playing football and both the boys loved meeting lots of new friends. They also loved trying archery. We have changed as a family, since camp we are happier and closer and better at communicating with each other. Everyone is more relaxed and the boys are still singing all the songs they learnt!"
"The kids absolutely loved the relaxed, crazy, fun atmosphere at camp. Polly so enjoyed just being 'one of the crowd' - she felt normal again. But as parents, we particularly enjoyed meeting with other parents who understood all that we go through. It was such a relief to be surrounded by people who 'get it' and to know that we are most definitely not alone."
What Over The Wall has learnedIn 2014 we created and recruited to a new, distinct, Development Officer role in Scotland to take on the role of fundraising. This has ‘freed up’ our Scotland Regional Co-ordinator to spend much more time developing links with key children’s hospitals, carers and community groups, increasing applications.
It has also ensured our ability to provide more time to support families through the applications process and in the run up to camp. This has resulted in a reduction in cancellations and we have been much better placed to fill the inevitable last minute vacancies that will always occur