Since 2016, Josh has been to four Over The Wall Health Challenge camps. Here he writes a guest blog for OTW, giving an account of how attending these camps has been life changing for him….
Hello. My name is Josh and I’ve been a camper and supporter of OTW for almost 5 years now. This is the story of how camp has impacted my life and why I urge everyone to support this outstanding charity.
Firstly, I’d like for you to have a little insight into my life to know more about me. I have Diplegia Cerebral Palsy, which affects my leg muscles and joints. It makes everything a lot more difficult and my quality of life is put under strain every single day.
School for me has always been a struggle, it still is now to some extent. My lack of effective physical mobility makes it all the more difficult to get where I need to be, and due to a lack of confidence in myself, it also affects the relationships that I have with people.
My classmates will invite me out for various activities, but my condition makes it 100x harder to go to places where a lot of walking and general movement is involved. Along with that, I lack self-confidence, so any chance of spending time with people outside of school is very, very slim.
So, people tend not to bother with me because I can’t do what they can. This means I’m isolated a lot more. I sometimes feel that it’s better if no one is around to be disappointed by my lack of confidence or mobility.
But that’s where camp comes in.
My family and I were introduced to Over The Wall in a physio class that I went to. The parent of a girl in that class became friends with my mum. She introduced us to camp and after some consideration I decided to apply.
I have been to camp 4 times now, attending in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019. All of those camps have been life changing for me, no words can truly describe how incredible of a charity Over The Wall is and why it is so important for young people and alike. I suppose I should give a perspective on one of my times at camp, so let’s go with the camp that I feel impacted me most- 2017 Health Challenge Camp.
I arrived at Whitemoor Lakes Centre now for my third time as a camper. I remember feeling nervous at first, but then my father opened the big orange door and I stepped inside. I immediately felt relaxed and completely at ease. I went through all the signing in, and paperwork etc. and was escorted by the volunteers in Purple t-shirts to the common room which I would spend a week getting to know my camp mates and volunteers and the like.
I was sitting on one of the big blue chairs shuffling a set of cards when the big double doors opened, and two boys walked into the room with their huge suitcases trundling along behind them. One of the two I had met at the previous camp that I had been to. He had been the first campmate I had stayed in contact with.
We look at each other and I shall never forget the smile on his face as his eyes beamed in excitement, as did mine. The other was looking around the big common room, slightly in awe, I think. I never could’ve guessed how much we had in common and how I finally felt like a normal person beside him. From then on, I had the best week of my life, and none of that would have been possible without the amazing staff, volunteers and everyone else that has made OTW such a blessed experience.
Each year, camp feels even better than it did the last time. It’s strange isn’t it, how you forget everything about it for a year and then WHAM it’s back like a slap in the face when you return and you realise how much you’ve actually missed all of it. I mainly see the people that I’ve kept in contact with, but I also meet new people every year. I’ve lost count of now many great people I’ve met.
The activities are amazing at OTW, I can’t think of a single one I haven’t enjoyed. Some of the activities I’ve taken part have included: climbing, abseiling, the zipwire, archery and a whole lot more.
The volunteers are a whole new level of amazing, they are all so helpful, caring, considerate and they always give us the motivation to do an activity we haven’t done before. Moments that spring to my mind are the singing and dancing, probably one of the biggest factors in an OTW Camp and something that everyone can take part in. Other moments include disco and mealtimes.
So, I’ll conclude this blog by saying, Over The Wall is a phenomenal charity, it provides children with Health Challenges and their siblings the chance to be themselves away from the struggles of normal lives, and if anyone is reading this thinking of applying. Do it! You won’t regret it.
My self-confidence has flown upwards since being involved with OTW and I can now express who I really am rather than what other people want me to be. Over The Wall has definitely changed my life for the better, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunities and joy that this astounding charity has given me.