The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for Kids Facing Cancer and Serious Illness

Photo: The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

Maybe it is because I live in Connecticut, not far from where Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward set up home (and theater–the Wesport Country Playhouse) ages ago, but I hope no matter where I was that I would be as enthusiastic as I am about The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. The residential summer camp in Ashford, Connecticut, was started by Newman back in 1988, to serve children who are coping with cancer and other serious illness, and their families. Week-long summertime camp programs are the mainstay of the organization, and the work has expanded to include outreach to hospitals and clinics and ongoing services for children, families, and caregivers–more than 15,000 each year–and all of the services are provided free of charge.

Named for the secret, outlaw hiding place from the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, it is a place where kids get away from being defined only by their conditions, and get to be free from being a patient and instead can just be kids. Children diagnosed with cancer, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS, hemophilia, and other life-threatening conditions get to laugh and play and get empowered in activities designed to be sure nobody fails at archery, mini golf, swimming, boating, fishing, horseback riding, arts & crafts, sports, theater, and camping. Think of the liberty of not being different because you have no hair, or bandages, or tubes that have to be inserted, or are tired or weak from treatment or a condition, but instead, you look around to find everyone else is like you–and loving the time they are enjoying outdoors, in this community that becomes family for a week. Camp sessions are one-week long, and volunteers make this world go round. An 8-day commitment to the residential camp program (one day of orientation and seven days with campers) can absolutely change your life while you change the lives of these amazing and inspiring young folks.

Are you up for a summer vacation after which you will never be the same?


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