Meeting Amy is like meeting a ray of sunshine — she’s bubbly, friendly and always has a smile on her face! Amy is an ambitious teenager with lots of talents. She’s learning to play the keyboard and enjoys being creative. Amy’s time at one of our transformative residential camps only helped to enhance what was already a natural part of Amy — her kindness and confidence always shines through. Amy has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, but her Health Challenge doesn’t stop her getting involved with everything at camp. We’re so glad to be a part of her journey and can’t wait to see what she gets up to next. We caught up with Amy to see how her experience at camp has had an impact on her life!
I like being creative, including watching YouTube videos on how to draw things, like how to draw a hospital! Horse riding is my favourite hobby but I also love go karting and climbing. I love music and have just started learning to play the keyboard I love music and have just started learning to play the keyboard – I can already play a One Direction song and songs from The Greatest Showman soundtrack!
I liked everything about camp! From the food to the activities, I loved every part of it. I liked we could do things inside and outside. One of the best things about camp was that even if you can’t do one thing, there are lots of other things you can try. I was really looking forward to going up the climbing wall. I’ve climbed before but it was a while ago, so I wanted to see if I could get higher up. I did! If someone’s a bit scared of heights and worried about going up the climbing wall, I could come with them and show them what it’s like. I could show them step by step what to do. If they don’t like it, they could come back down or try a different route up. I’m looking forward to getting even higher on the climbing wall next time!
The festival and disco were so much fun too. At the festival, I learned how to do facepainting whilst another volunteer painted my face to look like a cat (I love cats, and have four of them at home)! A volunteer called Charlotte taught me how to make friendship bracelets, which is another activity I’ve never done before. I still make them now, and even made a friendship bracelet for my best friend’s birthday! My favourite activity was when we tie-dyed our t-shirts. At the disco, the volunteers taught me some funny dances. On the way home from camp, all the songs were stuck in my head. I still remember how to do the macarena too!
Camp was the first time I’d been away from Mum and Dad for a long period of time. I’ve had sleepovers at my aunt’s house but that’s it. I learned at camp that I can look after myself and that I’ll be ok even if I’m not with Mum and Dad. I feel confident about going away again as I’ve already done it, so there’s nothing to be scared of now!
At the end of camp, I was happy to have my phone back but I was a little upset to be leaving. Camp showed me I can have fun without my phone as I didn’t think about it when I was there. It was weird not being able to contact Mum and Dad at first, but I got used to it because there were lots of nice campers and volunteers around me to speak to. It was actually my cats and my keyboard that I missed the most!
Making new friends
At first, it was weird meeting new people without my parents or my brother being there. I made friends with two campers who were sharing a room with me. The best way to make new friends is by being nice to them and introducing yourself. I didn’t get the phone numbers of the friends I made at camp, but I’d want to tell them that they supported me at camp and I’d love to get to know them a bit more. If I couldn’t do something, they would encourage me to give it another try. I hope I get to see them again at another camp in the future!
Sharing the camp experience
If I could bring anyone to camp, I would bring my best friend from school, because we’ve been friends since we started in Year 7. She was amazed by everything I told her about camp. I would show her the climbing wall and show her how big our bedrooms were! We’ve never had a sleepover before, so that would be fun.
Camp made me more confident!
Camp is amazing. It made me more confident. Before, my parents would have to come with me to do things, now I’ve been to camp on my own I know I can do things by myself. Meeting lots of people helped. Before camp I felt 50% confident. Camp made me 100% confident!
I was a bit nervous before coming to camp but then I was excited. If I could speak to past Amy, I would tell her that she would have fun at camp, not to worry and that I would be coming back again next year!
I would say to anyone who hasn’t been to camp before, even if you’re a bit nervous, by day one or day two you’ll get used to it. I would also give them more information about what we’re doing in the evenings and the other activities at camp, so they can have something to look forward to.
I want to be a vet! I have four cats, but I also love horses, rabbits and dogs. I’m going into Year 9 this year and have started thinking about my GCSE options. That’s when the idea of being a vet came to mind. I think I’m most excited for music, as I can practice on my keyboard at home. I’m really good now and I’ve been learning The Greatest Showman songs – maybe one day I can perform them at camp!
The impact of camp
Camp isn’t just about providing an opportunity for children and young people with serious illnesses and disabilities to have fun away from home. Built on a model of Therapeutic Recreation, camp is a place for these children and young people to develop their confidence and independence.
Amy’s parents were delighted when Amy returned from camp full of exciting stories about everything she got up to. School trips often aren’t accessible for Amy, so she’d never been on a residential trip before. Since camp, Amy has already been to a sleepover at her Aunt’s house, and this time she packed her own suitcase:
“Before, we would have done everything for her, so it’s little things like that. We know when she goes to camp next year, she’ll make her own list, write everything out that she needs to bring. It’s the little self-care skills really, the things we thought she probably couldn’t do – she’s more than able.”