By Peter Nye
My first experience with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp was in early August of 1995 as a volunteer for a 10 day session.
I learned within hours that the ground on which I was roaming was hallowed. I worked with the oldest kids that summer and the first camper I met from my cabin was a 6’4″ 17 year old hemophiliac who ran immediately to the basketball courts where he would spend every free moment for much of his next 10 days. He was a good player, but he could only play the game he loved, the way he wanted to play it, for 10 days a year. The other 355 days on the court would risk a bruise or a scrape along with a trip to the hospital.
This was a real life “All Summer in a Day” moment, the 1950’s sci-fi-fi short story of life on Venus where the rain stops and sun comes out on a group of schoolchildren briefly for one day every 7 years. To see this on Earth was overwhelming, it was thrilling to be a part of. More importantly it made me proud that a place like this existed to make the rain stop and the sun shine for a moment on all its campers. This little Hole in the Wall in Ashford was truly hallowed, divine, sacred.
Over time for many of us it would also become angelic. This is why Angel Uihlein happens to have the perfect name. The Hospital Outreach Program is also a moment where the sun shines briefly for kids living on a rainy planet. Every story has become overwhelmingly heartbreaking and sometimes, with HOP’s help, heartwarming. But, those kids in the hospital rooms catch a glimpse of the sun with each visit.
I write this as an open thank you to the camp staff for allowing us the overwhelming honor of spending the night at camp. I will never forget that camp, the cabins, and those bunks weren’t built for us. Each year I use the walk back to our cabins at the end of Day 1 to be thankful for this: Just because we raise a little money and climb a couple hills, we are allowed to fill the bunks meant for those amazing children. No way are we deserving and it is deeply humbling. I will never feel entitled to this honor and I thank you all for allowing us to be part of the gift of camps light.