More than 1,400 seriously ill children from all over the country, who were scheduled to visit activity camps before the pandemic struck, will now be able to enjoy a virtual online camp, thanks to a grant of £70,000 from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons.
Camp in the Cloud, run by Havant charity, Over The Wall, is a new and innovative virtual camp. It is a free, fun and interactive way of engaging children with serious illness through online activities. Camp in the Cloud combines the best of Over The Wall’s therapeutic recreation camps with state-of-the-art learning technologies to help tackle the associated issues of health challenges in young people.
The aim is to create an inclusive, accessible and engaging online programme, in parallel with a package of physical resources, including a coloured t-shirt and activity materials, sent by post, which allows campers and families to experience the magic of camp from the comfort of their own home.
The daily routine at the Camp in the Cloud will be based on that at the physical camp, with a morning game or mindfulness session, a dance party, with singing and dancing to popular songs and afternoon activities such as building a balloon rocket. The evening will feature interactive sessions with camp staff, other children and families.
Children with serious illnesses can feel isolated, set apart from their peers and suffer with low self-esteem. COVID-19 means children with health challenges are especially susceptible to feelings of isolation and loneliness, as well as bullying and mental health challenges.
Over The Wall has often been told that their camps were the ‘highlight’ of a child’s year, an outlet, a safe and encouraging environment in which to challenge themselves. While COVID-19 prevents Over The Wall from running camps in 2020, these children need, more than ever, a place to feel included, where they can engage with others on a similar journey and challenge themselves.
The grant from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Kevin Mathieson, CEO of Over The Wall, said: “We’re very grateful to Hampshire Freemasons for their generous grant, which will help us to provide a wonderful virtual camp experience to 1,400 seriously ill children who would otherwise have missed out because of the pandemic. Our camps are great fun for the children and have very positive long term effects on their self-confidence and mental health.”
Jon Whitaker, Head of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons, said: “I’m hugely impressed at the way Over The Wall have adapted to the COVID-19 crisis by changing their physical camps to this amazing online Camp in the Cloud. Thanks to this imaginative plan, well over a thousand children with serious medical conditions will be able to enjoy themselves and benefit from the proven positive effects of the camps without any risk of catching the virus.”