Siblings & Young Carers Camp 2020
A story by Over The Wall
Siblings & Young Carers Camp 2020 was a virtual camp experience for 48 young carers which took place Tuesday 14th – Thursday 16th July 2020. This project brought the magic, connectivity and respite of camp to young carers in Scotland in the safety of their homes during lockdown.
What Siblings & Young Carers Camp 2020 did
From 14th – 16th July 48 siblings and young carers of children with serious health challenges in Scotland took part in a bespoke virtual camp experience. All the participants had been either registered or waitlisted to take part in a residential activity camp in Summer 2020, however the arrival of Covid-19 meant that this was not possible. To ensure that our beneficiaries still had the opportunity to access respite, social connection and fun during lockdown Over The Wall designed a brand new remote programme, Camp in the Cloud, which was delivered in the safety of campers homes.
Campers took part in 3 full days of activities, logging onto the Camp in the Cloud platform online to follow the programme. Activities included making arts and crafts (Filter Paper Flowers and Log Cabins (age8-11), Origami Mobiles (12-17)) Problem solving (Escape Room in a Box) and Stem Activities (3D Structures (8-11), Robot Hands (12+)). As well as these activities campers could make a marble run, enjoy daily dance parties, and pick you own activities such as mindful colouring in the afternoons and then come together in teams in the evening for a video hosted Cabin Chat. All campers were posted a bespoke resource box which included all the resources they needed for every activity, even down to hot chocolate for Cabin Chat.
To make this project possible we commissioned a developer to create a bespoke online platform to create a virtual version of camp. Camp staff designed activities to deliver our outcomes with camper age in mind, recorded “how-to” activity videos and created the resource boxes for every camper. Volunteers were recruited and trained to facilitate the cabin chat sessions.
Due to our recruitment phase being cut short by Covid-19 we struggled to reach our target of 70 campers using the platform however the project was successful for the campers who did attend, with 81% saying that they felt refreshed because of Camp in the Cloud.
What Over The Wall has learned
Developing new short-break activities - planning and delivering a virtual programme for the first time provided a host of learning opportunities. This included the development of an innovative online platform using Moodle; a new activities programme which could be completed by campers independently, facilitated online and use resources that can be posted; learnings around online safety and use of online platforms/software.
Opportunities to engage new families - through the development of Camp in the Cloud we have realised the additional opportunities this mode of service delivery presents to impact campers that wouldn't normally be able to participate in our camps (e.g. those with medical conditions which we may currently exclude, those who are unable to travel). Next year we will also be able to provide greater flexibility to families as sessions won't be based on locations in Scotland and families will be able to apply for any camp they are eligible for, rather than the one that is 'closest'. We're also hoping to use our learnings from Camp in the Cloud to support the delivery of a new, virtual outreach programme.
Partnership working - provided opportunities for campers to attend from a variety of partner charities. The development of these partnerships will continue into 2021 to provide more opportunities for supporting and working with other children's charities. We've also worked incredibly closely with our platform developers, AdaptiVLE, to create a platform which represents campers needs and meets the outcomes we aim to achieve. The development of the platform included the use of camper focus groups to ensure co-production and suitability of the platform and activities.
How Over The Wall has benefitted from the funding
Creative Breaks funding has enabled Over The Wall to respond rapidly to the impact of Covid-19, and to design and implement a brand new pilot project to bring camp to young carers remotely. Not only does this ensure service provision for as long as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupt our physical camp schedule, it also create an opportunity for us to reach more seriously ill children and their carers in the long term, especially those who, due to the nature of their illness or family logistics, may not be able to attend physical camps.
70 young carers will have access and support to try and enjoy a wide range of new activities not usually available to them
48 campers took part in the Siblings and Young Carers Camp 2020. Feedback from our campers showed that the Siblings & Young Carers Camp 2020 was successful in improving young carers’ wellbeing in Scotland. Quantitative data collected in our post camp questionnaire showed that 83% said “I feel better about myself”, 79% said “I am happier” and 65% said “I feel less worried” following their Camp in the Cloud sessions. We also collected qualitative data asking parents to describe differences seen in their child following the project which included observing that their children were “Less stressed and down, doing more creative things” and “A little more confident.”
When Rhianna was three years old, her brother Connor was born with multiple life-threatening food and environmental allergies as well as asthma, eczema, adrenal insufficiency, and keratoconjunctivitis. Connor’s illness meant that he required a great deal of care, which inevitably had a huge impact on Rhianna’s childhood too. “I became a young carer for Connor, at a very young age” said Rhianna, “My mum was around, but I still had to do my part. He was being taken care of, 24/7, so I had to learn to figure out how to do things, in case he had to be tended to instead.” It was when Rhianna’s parents found Over The Wall, that she discovered a place where she could reclaim her childhood, be free and have fun. “Camp is one of the happiest places I have ever been, I have met some of the best people through Over The Wall and I have experienced some of the best days of my life. For years I felt shoved aside for my brother’s needs, I felt isolated, left out. But when I came to camp, it was like I finally had people there for me.” Over recent years, Rhianna experienced sibling camps and was especially excited about attending her last camp in the summer of 2020, until the outbreak of the Coronavirus caused all camps to be cancelled. “I was at school when I found out camp was cancelled. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t help crying. It wasn’t until later that I heard from Over The Wall and learnt that there would be a ‘virtual camp’. I was so happy- but also confused as I had no idea how it would work!” “I really enjoyed the ‘escape box’ - and the robot hand was fun. I also made an origami mobile which is now hanging up in my room. I hadn’t done any of these activities before. I’d always wanted to try and do an escape room- so having the box delivered to the house was a cool way of doing the challenge. I really enjoyed it.” "During Camp in the Cloud, the days went so quick! There was a lot to do- the week was over in what felt like seconds. It gave me something to do rather than be on my phone. There was a gallery where we could post pictures- and comment on each other’s work and I was also able to FaceTime my friends whist we did the challenges together – so we could chat whilst doing them! That was really good fun.” “Camp in the Cloud was really great. It captured the atmosphere of normal camp- even though we weren’t there, and it still gave me an escape. I’m so glad it happened.”
70 young carers will have enjoyed a fun break from their caring responsibilities at a camp designed to deliver long term benefits as well as short term respite. These include: increased confidence & self-esteem, new coping mechanisms and a better understanding of the need and means to self-care.
48 campers took part in the Siblings and Young Carers Camp 2020. Feedback from our campers showed that the Siblings & Young Carers Camp 2020 successfully gave young carers the opportunity to enjoy life outside of their caring role. Quantitative data collected in our post camp questionnaire showed that 82% said “I am more willing to try new things”, 81% said “I feel refreshed”, 75% said “I am more confident” and 69% said “I feel more positive about the future” following their Camp in the Cloud sessions. We also collected qualitative data asking parents to describe what campers gained from participating in this project which included one parent observing that their child had “Learned to work on activities alone, being independent.”
Nathan is 11, his 13 year-old brother Aaron has multiple food allergies, meaning he must always carry an epi-pen for his safety. When Aaron is exposed to allergens, he has various reactions including breathing difficulties, that could potentially be life threatening. Aaron’s health challenge naturally impacts the places he and his family go and has consequently impacted his and Nathans childhood opportunities. “Looking after Aaron has meant that often, Nathan, his younger brother, is unable to do the things he would like to do, which can be tough for him.” says Mum Shona. “For Nathan it can feel like the places we go are always Aaron’s choice, and sometimes there are things he’d like to do, foods he’d like to eat, but he can’t because of Aaron’s allergies. Which is why camp is so great for them both.” For Nathan, Camp in the Cloud was an exciting break from routine at home during the pandemic "I really liked the excitement of all the activities and wondering what else I was going to do during the week. It made me happy as I could not go and play with my friends due to the virus. It meant I had things to do and everything I needed for the activities including face paint, which was in the box, so I was able to do all the activities!"
70 young carers will feel happier and more able to cope with the challenges of everyday life, which will impact positively on their sick siblings and parents / carers.
Feedback from our campers showed that Siblings and Young Carers Camp 2020 provided support to young carers and siblings which connected them with others in a similar situation and helped them to know they have a support network as they continued their caring role. Quantitative data collected in our post camp questionnaire showed that 77% said “I feel less isolated and alone”, 72% said “I am better able to overcome personal challenges”, 61% said I feel more confident in making new friends and 58% said I have made new friends following their Camp in the Cloud sessions. We also collected qualitative data asking parents to describe what campers gained from participating in this project which included the following observations: “Knowing other kids are in similar situations or have a sibling with a disability.” “A chance to renew and further friendships” “I got to catch up with campers I haven't spoken too since previous camps and meet new campers.”
Rhianna who is a young carer for her brother Connor found connecting to others through Camp in the Cloud made a big difference to her. “I loved the online ‘Cabin Chat’ and being able to easily connect to friends I had met in the past, as well as speak to new ones. Our whole family had been shielding and so I hadn’t been out for a long time. It was a relief to forget about the lockdown and have different activities to wake up to every day.” “It was great to hear from the volunteers too, and chat to them- that made it all feel like camp. Some of the campers I hadn’t spoken to since my last camp, so it was good to catch up with them. Talking to people in similar or worse situations makes you feel like you aren’t alone and you feel much better about everything. Without Camp in the Cloud, I would have missed out on that.” “When Camp in the Cloud came to an end, I felt more relaxed and much less stressed. It gave me a breather- from everything- like normal camp would have. Camp in the Cloud gave me a break, it felt like everything was reset again.”
Additional project outcome
Improved Family Relationships
Although we do not have a specific case study to support this outcome, our independent feedback survey showed that 53% of campers said “I am getting on better with my family” as a result of taking part in this project.