The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

Stone Soup

Posted on by Lissy Newman

Remember the story of stone soup, when people were tricked into bringing veggies and spices and dumping them into a big pot with a stone in it?

Camp came about like that. When small group of people stood around a pond and said “Maybe here…” I don’t think anyone realized what they were in for. The people were transformed, the place was transformed, and that was long before our future campers had ever considered “raising a little hell” in Ashford, Connecticut. 

 The idea grew, and my father took great joy in the way it reached out its big ol’ arms and embraced everyone. Indeed, that may have been Camp’s first miracle – a crowd that materialized from all corners to scoff at the insurmountable and light a fire under all that possibility. Stone soup.

Thus, the seeds of goodwill and optimism were planted, and blossomed into a vast garden of hell raisers who took the job of having fun very, very seriously.  It was this garden that I entered the summer that my husband Rafe and I first volunteered (officially) in 2009. When a double rainbow appeared over the cabin circle just as campers were arriving, I suspected that I was in the right place at the right time.  And there’s nothing like a cabin full of brave, confident 12 year-old girls to shame you into becoming your best self. 

When Rafe and I had our children, Peter and Henry, my father was in his element. “Pop pop” (eventually shortened to the more elegant “Pop”) was a master of Lego construction and made a mean hamburger. He also drove a racecar and was pretty good at it. But one of the most amazing gifts he gave us was Hole in the Wall. Everything from its conception to its joyous reality has been woven into the fabric of our family.

Over the years, our boys have been lucky enough to participate in Camp whenever possible. As soon as he became old enough, Peter announced that he and his friend Will would be volunteering. I felt a gentle ping in my heart. If my father was anywhere, he was giving me a high five. They both rocked it and when they decided to go whole hog and join the full-time counselors this past summer, I was really impressed. They were going to be in some slammin’ company. 

Rafe is now working toward his 10th summer volunteering and, if all goes as planned, we might have another volunteer at Camp when Henry is old enough – a full house, so to speak. Since I won’t have to stay home to guard the kitchen from swarming teenagers, maybe I’ll be able to dive back in with my ‘hole’ family.

Hole in the Wall will always have the ability to create that shared magic. I feel like we are all in it together when we are there – campers, families, counselors, volunteers and all of the good people who contribute to keep everything hopping. Without all that skill and love and joy and commitment, it would just be a pot of water – a pond with some very nice buildings around it. But it ain’t that at all. It’s a very tasty, good-for-you, hell-raising stone soup.

 “Thank you Pop, for this Hole in the Wall ‘cause it’s been good to (all of) us.”

 XOX Lissy