In one of his most famous movies, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Paul Newman said, “I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals.” This quote is certainly correct when you think about Newman’s vision of philanthropy for the world! In 1982, Paul Newman created the Newman’s Own food brand (with delicious salad dressings, marinara sauces, salsas, and more!), in which all profits are donated to charity (to date, over $570 million!). And in 1988, he opened the doors of the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for seriously ill children to be able to have the transformative experience of summer camp, in a welcoming (and fully medically equipped) environment in the woods of Connecticut. This camp, and its year-round outreach programs, impact the lives of 20,000 children and their families every year—completely free of charge!
The children who participate in the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp have serious medical diagnoses, such as cancer, blood disorders like sickle cell anemia and hemophilia, immunologic disorders like HIV, and metabolic disorders like mitochondrial disease. Often these illnesses have prevented these children from doing many of the childhood activities we consider “normal,” such as sports activities, sleepover parties, and, of course, sleepaway camp. The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp provides a safe opportunity for these children to “raise a little hell,” as Paul Newman put it, and just be kids for a change. The Camp has everything! A ropes course, archery, boating and swimming, theater, arts and crafts, various sports, and even horse riding! And the camp also supports the siblings of these children by offering a special week at camp just for them.
The Camp and its year-round programs are guided by five core values: safety, inclusion, friendship, possibility, and gratitude. Hundreds of staff members and volunteers live by these values to make the experience wonderful for the children and their families! Each session of camp is run by employed staff along with volunteers who take a week out of their summers to provide support and happiness to these children. My husband Nick worked at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for several summers as a staff in the horse barn and as a cabin counselor, and it was one of his most joyful and formative experiences, making lifelong friends and making a difference.
All of these experiences are provided at no cost to the children and their families due to the generosity of others! There are so many ways that you can be involved in the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and its year-round programs. If you want to volunteer to work directly with children and families, you can find opportunities listed by your state (in the Northeast region), including volunteering in direct outreach programs, events, or offices. Donations and fundraising are also welcome!
Thank you, Paul Newman and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, for making this world a better place!