Like all parents who struggle with having a child with a serious illness, Julie and Ewan Mcinosh had a tough time of it. Not only did they have to deal with the illness of their six-year- old son George, but they also had to address the needs of their other “healthy” son, eight- year-old Archie. George’s illness, originally diagnosed as TB Meningitis, and now identified as a spinal brain tumour, devastated the entire family.
The McIntosh’s found out about Over The Wall from an outreach nurse at Edinburgh hospital. In 2015, they all attended Family Camp. “George was and is a very sensitive boy. He was so frustrated with being poked and prodded. His confidence was low as he started thinking of himself only a “sick” child…like he was not able to do normal things anymore.” According to Julie, Family Camp changed all that. “He got his independence back-- away from me. George loved the mayhem of dressing up and singing all the great camp songs. It was so inspirational. It helped all of us to have George happy again!”
George wasn’t the only one who benefitted from the experience. In fact, Archie enjoyed Family Camp so much he begged to be allowed to go to Sibling Camp. “Because of George’s illness, Archie always was with my mum and not with us,” Julie explains. “It was quite difficult for him.” At first, Julie wasn’t sure about letting Archie attend. “I was worried,” she notes. “He was only just eight and it would be his first time away from home. But I shouldn’t have worried. He had an amazing time! In fact, he blossomed. He was back to being a child with noworries. When he got home I asked him if he had missed me and he told he hadn’t. Then he said: ‘I hope that is not a bad thing to say.’ Under the circumstances, it certainly wasn’t!”
Julie loves that Archie brought home an important camp tradition. During camp, at the end of a fun day of activities, campers and volunteers gather together and have “cabin chats” where they go over all their day and what they achieved. Now Julie and her son make it a point to have their very own “cabin chat” every evening.
Julie believes going to Over The Wall Family Camp, and having her son going to Sibling camp, has had a major impact on the family. “I was so impressed with the ethos of Family Camp, the idea of bringing everyone together. At Family Camp, for the first time, there wasn’t an ‘elephant’ in the room. All of the families were in the same situation. So much of the camp was just pure fun and so light-hearted. It was brilliant! And it was also so nice that the parents could get to know other parents who were going through the same things.”
Over The Wall is a national UK children’s charity and a member of the international SeriousFun Children’s Network. We provide free of charge Therapeutic Recreation camps to help children with life-limiting illnesses and their families, reach beyond the perceived limitations of illness to rediscover a whole new world of possibilities. Through participation in a proven programme of fun-filled recreational and educational activities, our camps help promote inclusion whilst developing the confidence, self-esteem, coping strategies and peer relationships of all our campers.
We give children one glorious week of experiences that are memorable, exciting, fun and empowering, in a physically safe and medically sound environment.
Over The Wall is the only residential camp in the UK structured on the late Paul Newman’s renowned ‘Hole in the Wall Gang Camp’. As Paul Newman put it “A place where kids can kick back, relax and raise a little hell”.
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