ALEXANDRIA, La (11/13/10)…Most adults will remember Paul Newman for his acting ability, piercing blue eyes and sex appeal, but campers at The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp will remember him for something entirely different—their visit to a place where they could retrieve some of their lost childhood and “raise a little hell.”
Founded in 1988, and located in Connecticut, The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, which got its name from the secret, outlaw hiding-place in Newman’s film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, gives children a place where all activities are specifically designed to not only include every child, but also to ensure that no child will fail.
This magical place provides year-round programming, and offers a summer program as well as 24 weekend programs. Not only that, the Camp’s year-round Hospital Outreach Program brings their hopeful and playful spirit to seriously ill hospitalized children in sixteen hospitals. Altogether, the Camp serves more than 15,000 children annually and services are offered free of charge.
Where else can children with cancer, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS, hemophilia and other serious and life-threatening conditions get a chance to try their hand at being a naturalist, a fisherman, an athlete, an actor, a hot air balloonist or photographer?
J. Michael “Mike” Smiles, the Camp’s Chief Development Officer: “The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is a special haven for children with cancer, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses. Camp is more than good fun. It is about changing lives. Perhaps the best part is that it does so, not only for the campers, but for those who help make their experience possible: the many volunteers, donors and participants who devote of their resources to help a child and family coping with serious illness.”
The time that campers spend at The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp is transformational and the Camp continues to help campers keep that experience all year long. Friendships the campers make continue through a campers-only web site.
Typically, campers attend Camp one week for three years in succession, and their time spent at the camp is a critical experience in their lives. In addition, The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp operates other programs such as family weekends that serve specific disease groups, parent programs, a Change of Pace Experience weekend program (COPE), Periodic Area Gathering for Everyone events (PAGE), a Camp Parent Weekend and a seven-day wilderness-based program they call the Hero’s Journey.
One of the truly great things The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp offers is the Camp Alumni Program and their Stars in The Sky Society, an alumni association, which serves to reinforce the fact that the Camp operates on the belief that every camper is going to be an adult.
Like all the other individuals and organizations highlighted in this blog, The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp saw a very specific need and found a unique way to work together to meet it, and in doing so, truly Teamed Up For Success.
A native of Louisiana, Carla Ledbetter now lives in Alexandria, LA, and is also a contributing writer for Out and About Louisiana. She currently works as the Director of Web Content for Cenla Advantage Partnership, a nonprofit organization, funded in part by The Rapides Foundation dedicated to building prosperity in Central Louisiana. The author of three published suspense novels, she is working on her latest book and can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Blogspot and LinkedIn.
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