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camper and volunteer

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

Rating: 5 stars  

I can still recall vividly arriving for the first time to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Counselor were cheering. The sun was shining. Everyone was smiling. And little did I realize that my life was about to be changed forever. I have been involved with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for the past twenty years. I was a camper. I have volunteered as a counselor. I’ve played a role in fundraising. And I can say that the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is truly a magical place. There is a large population of children out there who can neither go to “traditional” summer camps nor simply spend the summer “playing.” For those children, the Hole in the Wall Gang camp offers a unique respite. As a camper, I fished; I canoed; I made beads; I put on plays; I climbed a rock wall; I wrote poetry; and I did all of that in a supportive, safe, respectful, and loving environment. These experiences were, of course, great fun. But they were also so much more. They offered a sense of normalcy. I too have ridden horses. I too know how to canoe. I too have a drawer full of arts and crafts projects. While, perhaps for some children, these are just summer distractions, they gave, to me, a sense of being “normal.” As a child, I spent much of my time around doctors or hospitals. And during much of my remaining time, I was around those who had never had such experiences, a constant reminder that I was “different.” But for a short time each Summer, I enjoyed what everyone else seemed to take for granted. My time at camp was special for yet another reason as well: the many wonderful people that I met there. I had a chance to meet other kids with similar life experiences and see that I was not alone. I also met a series of mentors, young people who had left their colleges or medical schools or jobs to come offer their time to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. I look back upon my time as a camper and realize that I simply cannot imagine what life would have been like without camp. Can you imagine what your life would be like if you had grown up in a different country or been born to different parents? Consider that for a moment. There are some counterfactuals that just can’t be imagined. For me, that is life without the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. And my experience as a camper was not unique. Thousands of children go through the rustic wood gate at the front of the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and are forever changed for having done so. Perhaps even more amazing (and almost as transformative) as my time as a camper has been my time as a volunteer. Each time I step foot on camp or help at a camp event, I am struck by the dedication and energy of those who pour their hearts into running the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Try to imagine what is required in taking care of a single child with an illness or disability. Now imagine what is involved in caring for thousands of them, while giving them a normal summer camp experience, and doing it in such a way that never feels intrusive but is always carefully supervised. Each and every time I meet other counselors, I’m always amazed by how much they can pour into that endeavor. Passion, professionalism, and skill are a rare combination, but one that I have consistently observed in the camp staff and administration. A camp counselor once remarked to me that everyone gets more out of the Hole in the Wall Gang camp than they put in. In my seven-year-old wisdom, I questioned how such a feat was possible: where did it all come from? Twenty years later, I still do not know the answer to that question. But I do know that it is the miracle of the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

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

my life and the lives of others.

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

be very proud of what I do.

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


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

truly incredible.

Ways to make it better...

everyone who wanted to attend camp could do so.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


Role:  Client Served & Camper, Volunteer.