My Nonprofit Reviews

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Review for Hole in the Wall Gang Fund, Inc., New Haven, CT, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

In 1995, my family entered into the incredible world of Paul Newman's The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp. My 13 year old son had just completed a year of treatment for bone cancer and although he had survived the horrors of his illness, he was utterly demoralized and debilitated. The Camp gave him back his childhood and gave me and my family courage, optimism, playfulness,hope,extraordinary friendships, and a context from which we could understand how our lives had been changed and how to proceed to fashion his and our recovery. At age almost 27, he is in good health and "on top of the world". A microcosm of total strangers inspired by Paul Newman's vision gave us this extraordinary gift and have become our lifelong friends and second family. The Camp which is in Ashford, CT, has done this for over 17,000 children and enters its 22nd summer season in 2009. Over 1000 children will attend, all free of charge. Cancer, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS and hemophilia are the major medical conditions affecting these children 7-15 yrs of age, but campers with rare disorders who could not attend camp elsewhere are also included.There is a full range of activities including, swimming, boating, fishing, horseback riding, theater, making movies, songwriting and making CD recordings, photography, arts and crafts, woodshop, archery, hot air ballooning,camping out overnight, a climbing wall with a 300 foot zip line, and many more activities. Despite the complexity and severity of their illnesses, the children are able to just have fun and many describe their week at Camp as the best week of the entire year, the time of their life, and better than Disneyland. Although one might expect a somber emotional tone, it is a place of incredible happiness, playfulness, positivity, love, respect,trust, and safety. They can't wait for the next summer's camp experience. Top tier medical care is provided by a large staff of outstanding pediatric specialist doctors and nurses. 2 Big Apple Circus clowns are resident all summer long.We have a full time music director and entertainment director and the dining hall is filled with laughter, music, song, and dancing. The Camp provides year round programming in Ashford and offsite with a special summer session for healthy sibling campers, family weekends at Camp, weekend parent retreats, off-season camper reunions, and website communication. There is also extensive programming for aged out campers. A hospital outreach program staffed by young artists who are former counselors provides thousands of visits to sick children throughout New York and New England. The counselors who are largely college and graduate school age, 1/4 of whom are former campers, are among the most talented, intelligent, intuitive, and compassionate young folks I have ever meet. The senior administrative staff is second to none and it seems that no situation has not been anticipated and fully planned for. The Camp operates a 300+ acre facility with a 40 acre lake and is gorgeous. The architecture is a Wild West motif with fantastic design. My entire family has served as volunteer counselors and my wife and I will return this summer for our 13th consecutive year. My fellow Board of Director members are among the most thoughtful, innovative, capable, and generous people I have ever met with several having served since the inception of Camp. They are a diverse and high-profile group of national leaders and my family and I have been the beneficiaries of their kindness and brilliance. Paul Newman provided unique leadership and vision for all of us and his legacy grows ever larger. Camp has a deeply spiritual dimension as well and is a land of "the ultimate right stuff" where people perform selflessly and at their highest capacity in the name of the children. It is a truly magical kingdom and as a parent, volunteer counselor, and 7 year member of the Board of Directors, it is a great privilege to be associated with this organization.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

its enormously positive impact on my son and my entire family

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...


What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the people who have come to be my second family

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

see my review above

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

it could not do any better tnan it does already

Ways to make it better...

could not be better

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

the present economy as a challenge for all nonprofits

One thing I'd also say is that...

see review above

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


Role:  Board Member & see my review above.