Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp Pivots Amid a Pandemic, Providing Hope and Healing to Seriously Ill Children and Families
By The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp on October 27, 2020
When COVID-19 caused The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to suspend all residential, regional and hospital-based programing in March, the staff quickly embraced the innovative spirit of the Camp’s Founder Paul Newman to find new ways to deliver hope and healing to seriously ill children and their families during a critical time. The result was a virtual reimagining of traditional programs and an alternative array of new offerings, ensuring that the Camp’s service population would experience some much needed Hole in the Wall fun and friendship at a time when these children and families were experiencing even more fear, uncertainty and isolation than usual.
Since March, 43 families have laughed in their living rooms during virtual Family Weekends and more than 145 campers and family members have enjoyed virtual home visits featuring everything from trivia games to virtual Disney rides and scavenger hunts. Additionally, 120 parents/caregivers have already participated in our Caregiver Cabin Chats on Zoom where they connected, played, meditated and discussed all of their “corona bonuses” thanks to some special guest speakers.
In addition, hospitalized children in the Camp’s 43 partner hospitals throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have enjoyed a virtual variety of programming from Hole in the Wall’s Hospital Outreach program (HOP) including bedside visits and group activities. HOP staff has also been staying busy behind the scenes and in front of the camera, creating more than 50 videos that so far have received more than 1,500 views while also providing custom content that is being shared via closed circuit TV at several locations.
And this summer, Hole in the Wall invited the 1,200 children who applied to come to Camp to participate in their choice of alternative programs, including a screen-free mailing series with adventures in STEM, creative writing, art and more; virtual Camp sessions featuring Stage Night, Cabin Chat and other Hole in the Wall favorites; and Camp Clubs where campers explore shared interests in photography, cartooning, cooking, theater, music and magic. All campers were sent a customized Camp-in-a-box including all the essentials and some traditional Camp comforts including a handmade quilt. And for families looking to get in on the fun, staff are also providing virtual home visits.
Though we're counting the days until we can resume our in person programming, until then, we'll continue providing "a different kind of healing" in different ways. Now, more than ever, our families need the magic of Camp, and we are so grateful to those generous friends who continue to support our mission through workplace giving and otherwise.
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