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I Never Imagined

Posted on by Danielle Sutherland, HOP specialist, Philadelphia

Even with all the trips I’d taken from Queens, New York on the bus with 30 plus other kids heading to Ashford, Connecticut, I never would have thought The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp would fill my heart so much for so many years to come. 

I wish I had all the details to share - all of my counselors' names, all the names of my fellow campers, all the Stage Night performances. I wish I could go back in time and relive the excitement and energy of “Bouncing Around the Room!”

I wish all these things, but the truth is a lot of it is a blur - a blur of laughs, awards and compliments; a blur of learning ‘the cup song’ in the dining hall with the rest of my cabin; a blur of riding a horse for the first time; a blur of spending every possible afternoon program in arts and crafts; a blur of throwing clay on the wheel; and, of course, a blur of the magic that is Carnivarty!

It’s all a blur now because I lost touch after moving from New York to Florida. Years flew by, and in 2017, I was preparing to graduate from college. I was terrified of what post-college life would look like and not sure what was in store. But after a conversation with a good friend of mine, I knew in my gut that I needed to go back to Camp! It had been nine years, but I sent my application in to be on summer staff in - you guessed it - arts & crafts! 

Even though I had been gone for so long, I was still filled with excitement approaching Camp and looking out for the sign with the bandit as I’d done so many times before. I finally arrived on Camp and was right at home! The cabins smelled the same, and arts & crafts was just how I remembered it. Summer 2017 was a whirlwind of new relationships in such a familiar space. One of the best parts of that summer was reconnecting with a camper friend who I hadn’t seen in almost a decade who was volunteering Session one. We instantly recognized each other and promptly caught up and exchanged numbers! 

Fast forward to 2019, and I submitted another application to be part of the summer staff leadership team. This time I would be working in a new capacity in the volunteer world where I saw yet another side of Hole in the Wall. Returning to Camp was the best thing I could’ve done. The genuine smiles and love that this place brings is so beautiful. After being a camper, summer staff member and volunteer, I knew there was more for me to do with this organization...

So, earlier this year, and without a second thought, I packed up everything in Florida and drove 1,035 miles to join the Hospital Outreach team in Philadelphia! And I write this with two whole months of full time Hole in the Wall employment under my belt! This transition has been a time of learning and growing, and I’m happy to work with such a supportive group of people. Even though I’m not in Ashford, the spirit of Camp is felt throughout the hospital floors, and I’m proud to be part of a team that gets to bring it there!

Eight-year-old me riding the bus to Camp for the very first time never could have dreamed of this. I’m so grateful my parents took that enormous leap of faith and sent me to Hole in the Wall all those years ago. If it weren’t for them, I’m not sure I’d have Camp in my life today. Thank you Paul for this Hole in the Wall, this Camp continues to be good to me!