The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

Summer Camp Faq

For Campers ↓
For Parents ↓
For Staff ↓
For Volunteers ↓
For Medical Volunteers ↓
General ↓


For Campers

What is a typical day at Camp like?

Breakfast is at 8:30 every morning. If you wake up really early there are often “polar bear activities” such as fishing or basketball available before breakfast. Each morning you will go to a different activity area with your cabin. Lunch is at 12:30, then we have rest hour or quiet time for an hour. In the afternoon you get to sign up for an activity. Dinner is at 5:30. Every night we also have different activities such as campfire, camp games, stage night, and carnival. Lights out is at 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. depending on how old you are.

What will I eat at Camp?

There are three full meals served everyday:

  • Breakfast: Cereal, granola bars, soy milk, regular milk (whole, 2% and skim) and juices are served every morning; in addition there can be scrambled eggs and bacon, or pancakes and syrup!
  • Lunch: Build your own hamburger, grilled to perfection, with your choice of lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup or cheese; salad bar with all the different kinds of Newman’s Own salad dressings you could ask for; Dino Nuggets or something equally delicious. Dessert may be sugar cookies with a chocolate center, or watermelon!
  • Dinner: There might be pizza or quesadillas; on banquet night there are special homemade mashed potatoes and mouthwatering roast beef. For dessert, there may be cupcakes or ice cream sandwiches.

For vegetarians, there is always a veggie dish available in the kitchen, which could be veggie pizza, roasted vegetables or falafel.

If you have allergies or cannot eat certain foods because of diet needs or religious reasons, we make sure that the cook and counselors know this before your session begins. There will always be something tasty to keep you fueled for the day’s activities.

Snacks are available anytime during the day or evening – just ask your counselor, and she or he will make sure you get a bite to eat between meals.

Who will take care of me?

Four counselors will live with you in your cabin. They are there to make sure you are safe and mostly to be your friends. There are also nurses and doctors on site to make sure you get all the medical care you need.

Where will I sleep?

When you get to Camp you will move right into your cabin. You will share a big room with 7 to 8 other campers your own age. Four counselors will also share the cabin with you. The counselors are your teachers, supervisors and most importantly your friends while you are at Camp.

What's there to do for fun?

At Camp you will have times when you go to an activity with your cabin, and other times you can choose what you want to do. Our activities include: Adventure, which is a climbing wall and high ropes course; arts and crafts, archery, boating and fishing, cooking zone, horses, sports and recreation, which includes a gym, tennis, basketball and mini golf; theater, music, where you can record your own CD; swimming, and woodshop.

Will there be kids like me at Camp?

There is a mix of kids at camp. Everyone who attends has a medical diagnosis. There may be kids with the same diagnosis that you have or with different medical diagnoses. Some kids may look totally healthy, others may be bald from chemotherapy. Some need medications every day, others do not.

Where do campers come from?

Most of our campers come from New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island). Others come from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. We also get some campers from states that are farther away such as Ohio, Kansas and Colorado. There are even campers who come internationally.

What should I bring to Camp?

Camp will provide you with sheets, towels and pillows so you should just bring enough clothes for a week’s stay of fun, a swimsuit, a sweatshirt if it gets chilly at night or in the morning, a flashlight, and a water bottle. Once you're accepted, Camp will send you a full list of what to pack.

The following items are not allowed at Camp: radios, cell phones, tablets, iPods, video cameras, weapons, alcohol or illegal drugs.


For Parents

Who can attend The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp?

During the summer program, we serve children with cancer, serious blood diseases (including sickle cell disease, hemophilia, thalessemia, aplastic anemia, etc.), hereditary and acquired immunodeficiency and metabolic diseases. We also include children with very rare diseases (e.g., primary pulmonary hypertension, FOP).

Family weekend programs include sickle cell, hemophilia, cancer, metabolic disease, serious blood diseases and other rare diseases.

All applications are reviewed by the medical team. Decisions are based on the child’s inability to attend another camp, the severity of the child’s medical problems, whether the child has been to Camp before and other factors.

What does it cost for a child to go to Camp?

There is no cost to attend The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Your only cost will be transporting your child to and from Camp.

Will my child be safe at Camp?

We do all we can to provide a safe environment for the children at Camp. All staff are carefully screened including reference and background checks. Our medical providers are fully licensed and have extensive pediatric experience. Our counselor and cabin life staff go through an eight-day intensive orientation before Camp begins. All program areas are reviewed for safety on a regular schedule. All staff members maintain certifications as required for specific program areas. For more information on our safety initiatives, please click here.

Who will take care of my child?

The counselor staff undergo a strict interview and screening process including reference and background checks. Counselors are chosen from many applicants for their experience, enthusiasm and empathy. The entire staff receives intensive training in areas including: safety, medical issues of our campers, child development, behavioral techniques and cultural awareness.

The infirmary is staffed with pediatric physicians and nurses 24 hours a day. The nurses provide routine scheduled medical care for the campers as prescribed by their primary physicians or specialists and their parents. Parents have the opportunity to sit down with their child’s nurse to review all medical care on arrival day. You can review all your child’s special needs, medications, restrictions, etc. Your child’s nurse will set up a schedule for his/her routine care.

What is the staff to camper ratio?

At Camp, the ratio of one staff member to two campers is maintained at all times.

Where do the children stay?

The campers live in cabins with other children their own age and gender. Each cabin has up to nine campers with four counselors. The cabins are equipped with handicap accessible bathrooms and showers. They also have air conditioning that can be used if needed.

Can I visit or talk to my child while he/she is at Camp?

In our experience, we have found that talking to home often causes or increases homesickness in our campers. Our policy is that children do not call home during their time at Camp. If you want to check in to see how your child is doing, you can call the infirmary and speak with your child’s nurse, or you can speak with your child’s counselor to get an update. We do not have parent visits during the Camp session.

Do I need to bring my child's medical supplies?

YES. Please send all medications and supplies to Camp with your child. Make sure you send enough to last the entire time your child is at Camp. This includes: all medications (prescription and over the counter, oral, IV, IM), supplies for central line care (heparin, saline, syringes, caps, access needles, EMLA, etc), and all other supplies (IV or pump tubing, pumps and supplies, wheelchair, crutches, etc.). If your child needs oxygen during the day or overnight this must be arranged prior to coming to Camp by you and your oxygen supplier.

What happens if my child gets sick at Camp?

If your child gets sick at Camp, he/she will be evaluated by the physicians and nurses at Camp. Minor medical problems (minor cuts, ear infections, sore throats, vomiting, sprains, etc) can be handled at Camp. Emergency medical care is provided as needed (IV antibiotics for fever, pain medications, IV fluids, etc). If necessary, children are transported off Camp for further care. You and your child’s primary/specialty physician will be contacted by the Camp medical staff with any significant medical issues.

For Staff

How old do you have to be to be a staff member at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp?

A staff member must be at least 19 years of age or must have completed one year of college.

What are the living arrangements for staff?

Most of our cabin staff live in the one of the 15 cabins with our Campers. Staff and volunteers have a separate living area and separate bathroom. Program Counselors live in our staff housing. Staff housing consists of shared same-sex housing with shared bathrooms.

How long will I be at Camp?

All paid summer staff members are hired for the full 12-week program. Our season starts with a week-long orientation and staff training. Please note that you must be available to start between May 29th and June 7th (depending on your position) for mandatory staff orientation, and work through the summer until August 28th.

Can I get transportation from an airport or train station to Camp?

Transportation to and from Hartford’s Bradley International Airport and the Hartford train and bus station is available upon request. The Camp is located approximately 40 miles east of Hartford, CT.

Who are the campers at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp?

The Camp accepts children 7-15 years of age, who have been diagnosed with cancer, leukemia, or serious blood diseases including hemophilia, thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS and aplastic anemia. Many children are still receiving active treatment while at Camp, while others may be in remission.

What are the starting salaries for summer staff?

Our summer salaries start at $3,200.

Are there any restrictions I should be aware of?

  • Employment/volunteer positions will be contingent on positive references, criminal background check, and completion of comprehensive medical history/physical forms.
  • Smoking is not permitted anywhere on Camp grounds. Drinking and drug use are also strictly prohibited.
  • Except for scheduled time off, all counselors (volunteer and staff) are expected to be "on duty" 24 hours a day. We must be able to count on you to help us as the need arises, so we ask that you not leave Camp except during your scheduled time off.
  • Everyone at Camp, adults and campers alike, are required to deposit all medications with the Camp infirmary. Medications will be dispensed by the infirmary staff only.

Do you accept staff with disabilities?

We do not exclude staff or volunteers with disabilities. However, because work as a counselor can sometimes be strenuous, we expect that any person working at Camp will have the ability to supervise and provide for the safety of our campers.

For Volunteers

What is the age requirement for volunteers?

All volunteers helping with our Camp Programs are required to be either 19 or have attended one year of college. If you are younger than 19 but would still like to volunteer for Camp, please take a look at our volunteer opportunities page.

What is the role of a volunteer Cabin Counselor?

As a volunteer Cabin Counselor, you work in conjunction with our full-time summer staff to supervise, support and care for campers throughout every aspect of their camp life. Volunteer Cabin Counselors are energetic, positive, patient role models who are ready to help make magic happen. Although the medical team will provide medical care, counselors often help campers with basic daily tasks while they are at camp (including dressing, personal hygiene, or helping a camper transfer to/from a wheelchair). All sessions are 7 days in duration, and all volunteers must commit to the full session.

What are the living arrangements?

Counselors stay in their assigned cabin or lodge room (with heat, air conditioning, and semi-private restroom facilities) with other volunteers and/or summer staff members. Towels, linens and bedding are provided.

What is the process for being accepted as a volunteer?

  • Complete an Application
    All volunteers are required to complete the current volunteer application. Applications will be available on the website by January 2, 2018. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis; when we have filled the spots, we will no longer accept applications.
  • Interview with Volunteer Coordinator
    Once a completed application is received, the Volunteer Coordinator will be in contact with the applicant to set up a day/time for an interview by phone.
  • Criminal Background Check and National Sex Offender Registry
    Volunteers will be required to successfully clear a criminal background check and a National Sex Offender Registry check before being granted final acceptance as a volunteer.
  • Medical Form
    Volunteers are required to disclose full medical information by filling out a medical form including current physical exam, general medical history, immunization history and current TB test. A cover sheet is included in the distribution of our medical forms that outlines the required and recommended immunizations one should have for volunteering. As we are serving a special population of children, most with compromised immune systems, immunization history and requirements are non-negotiable.

Is there training?

A mandatory full day of training on Camp is provided the day before each session commences. For new volunteers, orientation begins at 2 p.m. and returning volunteers begin at 3 p.m.

Is transportation provided to Camp?

You will need to provide your own transportation to Camp. However, if you fly/bus/train into Hartford, we will provide shuttle service to Camp. Plan to arrive in Hartford between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on your scheduled Orientation Day and depart between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Closing Day. Please purchase tickets after you have completed the application process and been accepted.

Are there any restrictions I should be aware of?

  • Volunteer positions will be contingent on positive references, criminal background check and completion of comprehensive medical history/physical forms.
  • Smoking is not permitted anywhere on Camp grounds. Drinking and drug use are also strictly prohibited.
  • Except for scheduled time off, all volunteers are expected to be “on duty” 24 hours a day. We must be able to count on you to help us as the need arises, so we ask that you not leave Camp except during your scheduled time off.
  • Everyone at Camp, adults and campers alike, are required to deposit all medications with the Camp infirmary. Medications will be dispensed by the infirmary staff only.

Do you accept staff or volunteers with disabilities?

We do not exclude volunteers with disabilities. However, because work as a counselor can sometimes be strenuous, we expect that any person working at Camp will have the ability to supervise and provide for the safety of our campers.

What is the schedule of a typical day at Camp?

  • 7:00 a.m. - Rise and Shine (early morning activities)
  • 8:30 a.m. - Breakfast
  • 10:00 a.m. - Cabin Cleanup
  • 10:30 a.m. - Morning activities
  • 12:45 p.m. - Lunch
  • 2 p.m. - Rest time
  • 3:30 p.m. - Afternoon activities
  • 5:30 p.m. - Dinner
  • 7:00 p.m. - Evening program
  • 9:00 p.m. - Younger campers head back to the cabins for cabin chat/lights out
  • 10:00 p.m. - Older campers head back to the cabins for cabin chat/lights out

For Medical Volunteers

Who are the campers at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp?

The Camp accepts children 7-15 years of age, who have been diagnosed with cancer, hemophilia, sickle cell anemia, as well as other genetic blood diseases and HIV/AIDS. Many children are still receiving active treatment while at Camp, while others may be in remission.

Who are the medical staff at Camp?

The full-time medical staff is made up of a medical director, nursing director and clinical nurse manager who work at the Camp year-round. In the summer, we hire six unit nurses who are employed full-time from June-August.

Who are the medical volunteers at The Hole in the Wall?

We have physicians and nurses of all ages, from just down the road and across the country. Many of them are pediatric and/or Heme-Onc specialists, but that is not mandatory.

What do medical volunteers do at Camp?

Medical volunteers are essential to our Camp program. Each session, there are one to two attending physicians, one to two pediatric fellows and/or residents, and five to eight volunteer nurses on Camp. The medical volunteers work side-by-side with our full-time staff to provide routine and acute care to our campers. Volunteers bring their clinical skills, spirit, fresh ideas and energy to our program.

Do medical volunteers get to spend much time with the campers?

As a medical volunteer, you will be assigned to a group of campers and will get to know them fairly well. About half of your time at Camp will be scheduled as infirmary time. At all other times, you are encouraged to be out and about with your campers.

What is the time commitment for a medical volunteer? Are partial sessions available?

During the summer, an eight-day commitment is required of all medical volunteers. For continuity of care, partial sessions are not available. For volunteers who have limited availability and live locally, we do offer day nurse volunteers. For these sessions, expect to be on Camp from approximately 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Prior Camp experience is preferred for day nurses.

During the fall and spring, we have family weekends and camper reunions. The time commitment for these sessions is 5 p.m. on Friday evening through early afternoon on Sunday.

Is there any training for medical volunteers?

For summer sessions, every medical volunteer, new and returning, is encouraged to arrive at Camp the day before his/her session starts for Orientation. Camp provides an extensive orientation on camp routines, medical care, and behavior modification techniques…as well as the fun stuff like songs and cheers.

Are there any restrictions I should be aware of?

  • There is no smoking permitted anywhere on Camp grounds.
  • Drinking and drug use is strictly prohibited. No alcohol is permitted on Camp property.
  • Except for scheduled time off, all nurses (volunteer and staff) are expected to be available throughout the day. We ask that you do not leave Camp except during your scheduled time off.

Can medical students volunteer at Camp?

Medical students can volunteer as cabin counselors. They live in the cabins with campers and counselors and work with the full-time counselor staff to provide daily care and supervision to the campers. This experience allows you to see what it is really like to live with a disease. There are two to three lectures throughout the session on medical topics given by the medical staff that you are encouraged to attend. If you are interested in being a cabin volunteer, please contact our volunteer director, Ellen Buus at volunteers@holeinthewallgang.org.


General

How many children are served by The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp each year?

The Camp serves more than 20,000 seriously ill children and family members annually – all free of charge. Each year, 2,500 children and family members take part in year-round programs at the Camp in Ashford, Conn. and tens of thousands more experience Hole in the Wall fun through various outreach activities across the Northeast.

Where do summer campers come from?

The majority of our summer campers come from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

What illnesses do the children have?

The majority of our campers have been diagnosed with cancer, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS, hemophilia or other serious illness or condition.

What is the counselor/staff ratio to camper?

A counselor/staff ratio to camper of 1 to 3 is maintained at all times; however, it often works out to be 1 to 2. In some cases, the ratio is 1 to 1.

What kind of medical care do the campers receive?

Our campers share the joy of a camping experience of the highest quality that seamlessly incorporates 24-hour medical supervision provided by paid and volunteer physicians and nurses under the supervision of Medical Director Dr. Sharon Space.

What activities are offered at the Camp?

Each camper enjoys a full range of activities that include boating, fishing, swimming, camping, performing arts, arts and crafts, horseback riding, group games, dancing and singing. Our activities are managed so that all campers can participate and none will fail. All participation is by choice.

Does the Camp offer other programs throughout the rest of the year?

Programs at Camp run year-round. In addition to our signature summer program, we offer a full schedule of weekend programs in the non-summer months featuring family weekends, parent retreats and programs for the community. Our Hospital Outreach program brings the healing and joy of Camp programming to the bedsides and playrooms of seriously ill children in hospitals from Philadelphia to Boston all year long, while CampOut brings Camp magic right to campers in their homes and communities.

What does it cost to run The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp?

Our revenue goal for operating expenses for the Camp in 2017 is $12.5 million.

Does Newman’s Own provide a majority of funding for the Camp?

Newman’s Own Foundation is an independent organization and although not directly affiliated with The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, we were both founded by Paul Newman and share a common commitment to carry on his legacy. Paul Newman and Newman's Own Foundation have generously supported The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp since it was founded in 1988. The Foundation remains part of a generous community of more than 25,000 donors each year that allows The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to provide “a different kind of healing” to seriously ill children and their families completely free of charge.