Student Ellie Pearce discovered Over The Wall at her university’s career fair and was immediately attracted to the idea of volunteering at camp. Since her discovery four years ago, Ellie has volunteered at eight different camps in both the South and the Midlands.
“When I first volunteered I was studying English, but now I’m studying medicine as a graduate,” explains Ellie. “I have plans to be a paediatrician so volunteering to work with children with serious health challenges has been a valuable experience for me.”
As someone that was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at 19, Ellie’s own health challenge has had an influence on her decision to pursue a career in medicine. “I was only just an adult myself when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis,” says Ellie. “When I was first diagnosed, I often felt like ‘that girl with the IBD’ – it became a huge part of my life almost overnight. Learning about camp and its ethos of not letting campers be labelled by their illness really resonated with me.”
“I was 20 when I first volunteered with Over The Wall, and I thoroughly enjoyed it- everyone was so welcoming and involved me immediately. Seeing camp in action was better than I could have ever imagined. As a volunteer you come away with so many friends, you meet so many wonderful, likeminded people.”
“I often find camp hard to describe, because there is nowhere else like it. Nowhere as positive, nowhere as inclusive. People feel naturally free and optimistic – it is a wonderful place to be. Over the years I have seen particular children come to camp as very shy, reserved people, that struggle to interact. Then by the end of the week they are performing in front of the whole camp in the talent show! That change alone is a testament to how special camp really is.”
“The other wonderful thing about camp is that its benefits aren’t limited to the campers. It also provides volunteers with so many benefits. For example, the experience of camp has been great for my CV- in fact, I recommend volunteering to anyone that wants to work with children in roles such as nursing, teaching, care work and so on. Also, Zoe- the Director of Volunteering at Over The Wall- has always given me wonderful references that have already been so useful.”
“I also think you come away from camp with more confidence in yourself. It has really helped me develop as a person. I have volunteered as both a Team Leader and Activity Leader, roles that have that given me confidence in my leadership skills and my ability to work as part of a team. There are also some great activities at camp just for volunteers, such as our closing ceremony and volunteer evening party ‘Chez Jaune’, which is great fun! Obviously, volunteering is all about the camper’s experience -that’s the main part- but there’s a lot in it for you too!”
“Once I graduate as a paediatrician, I hope to one day become a clinical volunteer on ‘Beach Patrol’.”
If you are looking for a new challenge in 2020 and would like to try something completely different from your day-to-day life, consider volunteering for Over The Wall. Our camps are life-changing – for children and volunteers alike.