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Guest blog: Camp is “life-changing for campers and volunteers alike”

By Andy Scott, OTW Volunteer

When a child is struggling in life and has a complicated condition that makes every day a challenge, friendships are a tortuous maze to navigate and the security of a regular and normal routine is all but absent, isn’t it fantastic that there is an organisation that addresses all of these concerns and gives these children and teenagers a slice of normality, a week of fun, friendship, new experiences and what the rest of us take for granted as ‘normal’?

I recently returned from a week spent volunteering at Over The Wall Health Challenge camp, where more than 70 kids from age 8-17 have had an amazing week, made new friendships and rekindled old ones, tried new things and discovered fresh skills, faced new challenges and met those challenges with distinction.

They left camp (yes, there were tears), revitalised and ready to start again – refreshed and with a boost to their oft-times challenged self-esteem. Having read and heard first-hand the stories, we know that camp is just part of the journey, that kids return home ready again to face up to life and know – with a new found confidence – that they are special, they are amazing and they can achieve so much. Their camp experiences stay with them – in the months ahead, manifesting as a renewed zest for life, and happiness in knowing that there is a way, they do have opportunities and the future is a lot brighter than they may have thought.

Camp is made possible because of the army of volunteers and support staff dedicated to the campers’ health and well-being, giving up their own holiday time to come to camp and freely give their time, patience and compassion. I speak as a volunteer, helping out in a team, just supporting and encouraging the kids, making sure they can make the most of the experience. I have no medical training, I have no qualifications in child care, other than having been a parent myself and I have been welcomed into the volunteer community alongside many others to help make the #mischiefandmagic possible.

These experiences are life-changing for campers and volunteers alike and I don’t use that term lightly. Ask anyone what’s it’s like and they’ll tell you that it is so difficult to put it into words, you just have to experience it for yourself.