From volunteer to employee

The OTW camp experience often influences the ambitions, life-plans and even career choices of our volunteers. Several of our very own permanent staff members were so inspired by their experience of volunteering, that they decided to adopt a permanent role in making camp happen. Here, we speak to two staff members, Lucy and James, about their initial experiences as volunteers, and how volunteering at camp has motivated them to become full time OTW employees.

Lucy Miller, OTW’s Head of Nursing

Lucy (far right) with some of the Beach Patrol volunteers

“I first discovered Over The Wall whilst working as a nurse. A Doctor I was working with had previously volunteered and they thought I would enjoy it, so I gave it a try.

The first camp I attended was Scotland Siblings Camp in 2015, and I thought it was just amazing. I couldn’t believe I had discovered an environment where the siblings of children with illness could just have fun, without any worries and simply enjoy being children. After that, I was so inspired I volunteered at another two camps – again, as a clinical volunteer on the Beach Patrol team.

It was not long after volunteering that I received an email advertising for an internal full-time position with OTW and I decided to apply. I was really excited at the prospect of being more involved with the charity and becoming a part of the process of getting more campers to learn about camp, whilst increasing the numbers of children attending. So, I applied for the job, and was absolutely delighted when I got it!    

Working as a member of the OTW team means I now have a much deeper understanding of all the different aspects of how camp comes together. It’s hugely rewarding to know that I have played a part in the charity’s growth over recent years. Camp is a very special place.

For me now, as a full-time staff member, nothing beats being at camp, especially on the first night, when all the campers and volunteers have arrived, and as a team, we can see that our hard work has paid off.”

James Snowden, OTW’s Head of Camper Experience

James Snowden (middle) pictured here with the Wellbeing team

“I first heard about camp and volunteering with Over The Wall from a friend. Having worked with children for a number of years, as a teacher and youth worker, I instantly fell in love with the idea of camp. It seemed perfect. I cannot even begin to put into words just how powerful my first experience of camp was. It was at a Scotland Siblings camp back in 2012, and when I arrived, I couldn’t believe that a place as welcoming, inclusive and as positive as camp existed. It really was the happiest place I’ve ever experienced and was one of the most fun and inspirational weeks of my life. 

After that, I was hooked! In fact, I volunteered at around 20 different camps over the period of 2012-2017. My roles varied from being an Activity Leader (for drama), to a Team Leader, but it was when I saw the advertisement for an internal role that I just knew I had to apply.

For me it offered an opportunity to apply the best bits of teaching, whilst also supporting those with social, emotional and behavioural needs. It just seemed too good to be true. 

Although camp obviously changes the lives of our campers, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words the positive impact it had on me as a volunteer too.

The skills I’d gained through volunteering such as confidence, public speaking, working in a team, were all fundamental in getting me to a place where I could apply for this role.

I love working for Over The Wall and seeing the behind-the-scenes side of camp is fascinating. Of course, it’s a slight step back from being with the campers. Now, rather than directly supporting them as I did as a volunteer, a lot of my role is supporting volunteers to support the campers. 

I still absolutely love those times at camp where I have a moment to stop and just watch what’s going on, whether it’s in the dining hall, or in an activity, or watching a small interaction between campers who have become best friends in less than a few hours. I just love being able to step back in the knowledge that I’ve played a small part in making those life-changing experiences and memories happen.”

Interested in volunteering?

To join Over The Wall as a volunteer is to join a warm, generous and fun community – all geared towards making a child’s camp experience among the most memorable times they’ve ever had. You’ll be given specialist training for camp and develop skills in organisation, project management, fun management and more. 

Volunteer at our free and fun activity camps and join a community dedicated to making a difference to children’s lives. Our residential camps are held at locations around the UK and we have a variety of roles awaiting you including: Team Mate, Activity Leader, Clinical Volunteer (including paediatric nurses, doctors and paramedics), media crew and safeguarding officer.