As a triathlete and an accomplished swimmer who often competed nationally, physical activity has always been a big part of Evan’s life. However, in 2019, when he was just 12, Evan began to experience pains in his lower back that his mum naturally assumed was a result of his active behaviour.
“We had given Evan different stretches to do, for what we thought was muscle soreness”, said Susan, Evan’s mum, “but then after time, the pain got so bad he couldn’t sleep. It became excruciating.” Evan went to hospital for scans and was eventually diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis in his spine and lower back.
“Suddenly, Evan was unable to do the things he loved.” Said Susan. “He had to give up the training for triathlons and swimming club. He could only swim using his arms. All of this impacted him psychologically.”
When Susan discovered Over The Wall, she knew the camps would be perfect for helping Evan, whilst giving him an opportunity to experience different activities in a residential camp specifically for children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
After applying and being offered a place, Susan was going to keep the news of camp as a surprise. However, with the outbreak of Covid-19, all 2020 camps were unfortunately cancelled.
Experiencing Camp in the Cloud
In response to the camp closures, Over The Wall created an interactive online platform designed specifically for the children who were scheduled to attend camp in 2020. The aim was to bring, the joy and magic of the physical camps into each family’s home.
“We were so impressed with the way that camp was organised and with the resources that arrived. Evan had been shielding, even when lockdown restrictions eased, and so, for him to receive a mysterious box, crammed with activities and interesting things to do, was amazing.”
“The wonderful thing about Camp in the Cloud was that the whole family got involved- and everyone loved it! We had such a good laugh doing the balloon modelling and we are a very competitive family, so the quiz was also great for us. We weren’t expecting it to be, but the story writing activity was also a great success. We had a lot of fun with it.”
“There was just so much to do, and the great thing was that even after camp, Evan continued using the resources and playing the games again and again. He even carried on making balloon models, as there were lots left over. He made them for all his cousins!”
“Even though it was an ‘online’ camp, Evan wasn’t just sat at a computer on his own, in fact Camp in the Cloud made us all interact as a family. We all got involved and really enjoyed spending family time together working on all the activities.”
“Up until recently, Evan had only experienced the negative aspects of his illness. Going to camp is one of the things he can now put down as a positive, and that’s really important.”
“Camp has also helped give him the confidence to talk to his friends about his health challenge. Having these activities and learning new things has allowed Evan to say- I learnt to do this at Camp in the Cloud-which is something I am able to do because of my illness.”
“It’s allowed him to feel confident and comfortable talking about himself, and why he was taking part.”