Aspen Institute donates Wye River Conference Center, which will be renovated to provide free year-round camp programming for children with serious illnesses and their families in the Mid-Atlantic
As The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp prepares to welcome campers for its 35th summer in Ashford, Conn., CEO James Canton and Board Member Bradley Cooper announced today that the organization will open a second location on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 2023, providing “a different kind of healing” to more children with serious illnesses and their families in the Mid-Atlantic.
“For 35 years, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp has been guided by Founder Paul Newman’s creative spirit, expanding programming to bring joy and hope to more children with serious illnesses while also increasing opportunities for their families to experience the healing power of Camp all year long,” said Canton, who was a cabin counselor during the Camp’s first summer in 1988. “This same commitment that expanded our reach from 288 campers in 1988 to now more than 20,000 children and family members annually also inspired us to pursue this opportunity to bring Camp magic to more children and family members in the Mid-Atlantic – a region that Hole in the Wall has served to some extent since its earliest days. We are thrilled for this next chapter and humbled by the Aspen Institute’s incredibly kind and generous donation – it’s a gift that will keep on giving.”
According to Canton, Camp’s multi-year exploration of adding a Mid-Atlantic location took an exciting, unexpected turn when it learned that the Aspen Institute’s 166-acre Wye River Conference Center in Queenstown, Md. was for sale and that the board was willing to donate a majority of the historic property to Hole in the Wall. In 1979, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur A. Houghton, Jr., gifted the property to the Institute, which inspired the board to pay it forward. The historic property, which boasts scenic water views, tree-lined pathways and majestic meadows, contains several residential buildings and other conference facilities that will be renovated to provide a helpful starting point for Camp to begin programming.
“Since 1979, the Wye River campus has played an important role in the Aspen Institute’s history. This beautiful and protected site has hosted countless seminars and convenings, including some of international significance,” said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “We are now proud to make available a significant part of this land to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to become their second location. Their mission to provide joy to children with serious illnesses and their families is inspiring, and secures a wonderful future for the Wye River campus.”
Maryland’s Eastern Shore represents an ideal Hole in the Wall location for many reasons. The Connecticut location’s on-site programming primarily serves those traveling from within a three-hour radius in the Northeast. The Maryland location will create an adjacent three-hour radius in the Mid-Atlantic, which contains some of the nation’s most prominent pediatric hospitals treating many of the populations that Camp hopes to serve at the Maryland location. Hole in the Wall’s plans for the new site are guided by Camp’s many years of experience serving children with serious illnesses while also answering the diverse needs of their families. The
facilities and all programming will be designed to be family inclusive so that those most devastated and isolated by serious illnesses, including the rare disease community, will be able to find a caring community of support that understands their unique challenges.
Actor, producer and director Bradley Cooper is honorary chair of the committee leading the launch of the new location. Cooper, who volunteered as a cabin counselor at the Camp in 2006 and later joined the Board of Directors in 2014, has a deep, personal connection to the Mid-Atlantic having grown up near Philadelphia and graduated from Georgetown University.
“I’ve seen firsthand the life-changing impact of Hole in the Wall’s programs, which is why I’m honored and excited to see that Camp is bringing a much-needed escape, a support network and empowering experiences to the lives of some incredibly brave kids and families in the Mid-Atlantic,” said Cooper. “Just like when Paul Newman first started the Camp, this expansion into Maryland will rely on the generosity of many new friends who want to see these kids become campers and their family members experience all the magic Hole in the Wall has to offer.”
Following what is expected to be a one-year renovation, Hole in the Wall plans to open the Maryland location in summer 2023 by offering multiple sessions of Family Camp programming to serve those populations in the region who are most in need of Camp’s healing impact. In the meantime, Hole in the Wall’s Hospital Outreach program continues to bring Camp-style games and activities to several Mid-Atlantic hospitals daily with plans to establish a DC metro area regional office and expand to more medical facilities in the coming months.
About The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp:
Founded in 1988 by Paul Newman, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp provides “a different kind of healing” to more than 20,000 seriously ill children and family members annually – all completely free of charge. For many of these children and families, Hole in the Wall provides multiple Camp experiences throughout the year at the facility in Ashford, Conn., in more than 40 hospitals and clinics, directly in camper homes and communities, and through other outreach activities across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Learn more at www.holeinthewallgang.org.