Volunteers at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp do more than just provide labor. They are an integral part of the Camp's philosophy. Many people who very much want to serve our kids find it impossible to devote an entire summer to us. The Summer Volunteer Program provides a mechanism for that service (minimum age -19 years old).
While most of the Camp staff members are college age, the Summer Volunteer Program is one source of diversity of age and background for our staff, since some children respond more readily to people in their middle or senior years. Second, the volunteers bring in fresh new energy and ideas. The Summer Volunteer Program is also a trial ground for new talent. Some of the staff in any given year were volunteers in the past.
Most important of all, the Camp's volunteers are a major route for accountability. The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is a private agency but it does enjoy the special status granted to charities. We accept food donations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and allow contributions to be written off donors' tax returns. Although we are private in the way we spend funds, we are very public in our fund raising. Virtually all of our operations money comes from the public at large through gifts and donations. We exist to serve the children of the public.
The public has a legitimate interest in how we conduct ourselves but serving that interest must be balanced with the children's right to privacy. In compliance with HIPAA regulations and out of respect for the privacy of our children and their families, we simply do not allow the general public to visit the Camp while we have campers there. Volunteers, however, are intimately connected with us and see our operation from every angle. Their participation is one means by which we demonstrate our good will to the public at large.
Two Summer Volunteer Groups at Camp
Volunteer Counselors are our largest summer group. Each year we will recruit, screen, and use more than 275 volunteers. Approximately two-thirds of these are returning volunteers, some of whom have worked for us since the Camp opened. Ordinarily, each cabin will have two volunteer counselors with two paid staff. Ideally, there should be no distinction made between volunteers and staff in terms of duties. The campers treat everyone alike.
Volunteer Physicians and Nurses are selected and supervised by our Medical Director and our Director of Nursing. Together with our medical staff, these volunteers take responsibility for our camper medical care.
Volunteer Orientation and Training
A summer volunteer's weeklong participation in The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp begins with training sessions that start the day before the campers arrive. During those sessions the volunteer will become acquainted with the philosophies, policies and programs of the Camp, as well as emergency and safety procedures. An orientation by the medical staff is provided as well. Each volunteer is provided a Camp Manual and Volunteer Information Packet before arriving at Camp. During the session volunteers have the option of a day (8 hours) off. They are also invited to a special breakfast on Camp grounds, offering an opportunity for all volunteers who participated in the week to share their thoughts, come together as a volunteer team and be recognized and thanked for their hard work.