Galaxy Gazer goes to camp...


The chances are that some point during your childhood, you got to spend some time away from home, be it Brownie or Scouts camp, school camp, youth group weekends away or even just a sleepover with friends. These were opportunities to have fun away from parents and siblings, frequently characterised by late nights sitting up chatting and giggling and the excitement of the almost inevitable midnight feast. For those living with chronic illness, their sometimes complex medical needs often make these camps an impossibility for them, but thanks to the insight and work of actor Paul Newman in the 1980s, nowadays even those with serious health challenges can enjoy a similar experience to that of their more healthy peers. This month GalaxyGazer tells us about her recent time away from home and why it was so much fun.

29th April 2016


At the end of March, I travelled down to Dorset for the Over The Wall South Siblings Camp 2016. Over The Wall (OTW) is a charity set up to provide free camps across the UK for children with serious illnesses as well as separate ones for their siblings. I went with 2 friends, EarthGirl and Jupiter, who I know because their younger brother, Asteroid, and my brother, Marvin, go to the same hospital and the 3 of us caught the same minibus to reach Dorset.

There were about 60 children aged between 8 and 17 on the camp and we were split into 8 groups depending on our ages: EarthGirl and I were in Purple Girls, whilst Jupiter was in Orange Boys. As there are approximately the same number of OTW volunteers as campers on site, each group was made up of equal numbers of volunteers and campers. All of the children have a sibling with an illness and this was an opportunity to meet other people in the same situation as I am and spend time away from the rest of the family.

We started each day with a morning sing-song before breakfast and then we headed off to our first activity. We did about 3 or 4 activities a day as well as having a rest hour after lunch. Whilst I was there, we did many different activities including swimming, archery and climbing. I liked doing them all, but although it’s hard to choose, I think that my favourite was archery. We also did things like arts and crafts and in the techno workshop I made a wooden bird-box.


Our evening routine was dinner, cabin chat and then bed, although on 2 nights we also had a disco and a talent night. Before I went, I didn’t think I wanted to take part in the talent night, but I ended up teaching 3 of the other girls from my team a dance routine to “Cheerleader”, which we performed for the rest of the camp. Everybody on my team did something at the talent night, even if it was just presenting the other acts.

Just before bed every night, we had a team cabin chat held in the corridors linking the Purple Girls’ rooms. An important part of the cabin chat was to give out coloured beads to each camper to recognise their achievements during the day. Each volunteer would choose 1 camper to award the bead to and they would write down why they were giving that bead. There were 6 or 7 different coloured beads given for things like positivity, creativity, teamwork, supportiveness, fun and courage. At the end of the week, we were given these records and beads to bring home to remind us of our time with our team.

I had been really nervous about the food I would be eating during my time on camp because I have allergies to gluten and dairy and that can make it hard to eat away from home. However, the camp chef spoke to my Mum before I went to discuss what I could eat and prepared me a delicious meal every day. On the first night, I didn’t have a choice, but on all the other evenings I was able to choose my meal.

Every morning, I had a breakfast of gluten-free toast and honey, which was really nice. There was soya milk for me to drink and one night I had apple crumble for pudding. One of the nurses had brought some Alpro soya yoghurts with her, so I was able to have those during the week too.

I had an awesome time on camp and would love to be able to go again next year. I made really good friends with everybody on my team and we would all like to meet up again in the future. I would recommend it for other siblings because you get to spend a lot of time with people who understand what your home life is like, you make lifelong friends and you get to have lots of fun. It’s hard to pick, but the best bit for me was when I managed to hit the red ring on the archery targets, which was really close to the bullseye!

BBQMay 15th-21st is National Eosinophil Awareness Week and every year, Marvin, my family and I try to raise awareness of EGID as well as doing some fundraising. In previous years we have supported Great Ormond Street Hospital and FABED (Families Affected By Eosinophilic Disorders), but this year, following my amazing week with OTW, we have decided to raise funds for OTW (Over the Wall). We will be doing some fundraising activities in our local community and my Mum has set up a Just Giving website for people to donate through if they would like. Marvin is hoping to be selected to go on the OTW Health Challenges camp this summer and I know he will have a fantastic time.

For more entries in Galaxy Gazer's and Marvin's diary see here.
For more articles on coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity, see here; for more on dairy and milk allergy and intolerance, see here; for more articles on eisinophilic diseases, see here.

NB Information on this site is not a substitute for medical advice and no liability can be assumed for its use.

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