Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

Hole in Wall Gang Camp Envisions Up-to-Date Rebuild after Destructive Fire

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In Ashford, an investigation continues into what caused the fire at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

Tuesday, the town’s fire marshal said the fire does not seem suspicious.

Despite the devastation, the nonprofit is trying to see the silver lining as they continue to support families with sick children.

Just four days since the fire, the organization is wowed by and thankful for the community’s showing of support on social media and financially too.

Between a million-dollar match offered up by Travelers and their insurance pay out, CEO Jimmy Canton expects they’ll still need more funds to rebuild.

He says they're imagining bigger and better spaces to accommodate how much the camp and our world has evolved over three decades.

"Those beautiful buildings were 35 years old. We’re serving different children today than we were back then. More acutely ill, more children with mobility issues, more wheelchairs than ever before. More people than that camp was designed for," said Canton, whose virtual interview background is a picture of buildings now burnt down.

Families who spoke with NBC Connecticut talked about the positive impact the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp had in wake of a massive fire that destroyed buildings at the camp.

But talking with NBC Connecticut Tuesday, he says this fire could have been a lot worse, as the dining hall and infirmary area were spared.

Along with firefighters, he says perhaps they have late founder Paul Newman to thank.

“Angelic wishes from Paul and from many others folks who have been in those spaces who have loved those buildings,” said Canton.  

Dani Sutherland spent a summer working as a councelor in the now burned down arts and crafts building.

“A coworker of mine sent me a text with a link to your website when it was still happening Friday evening and I was taken aback," said Sutherland, a hospital outreach specialist working for the nonprofit in Philadelphia.

She knows the impact of the camp not just as an employee, but as a former camper herself.

“I’m so fortunate to have gone to camp. It definitely helped me understand what sickle cell was and meeting other kids that had something similar.”

She says the physical buildings aren’t what made the camp so special.

“Camp isn’t just the gates and the building. It’s definitely the people and the families that you’re able to connect with and inspire one another.”

As the nonprofit pivoted during the pandemic to bring virtual activities to families, they see this fire as just another bump in the road as they hope to help kids forget about the hospital for just a minute and instead make fun memories at camp.

“By no means is our effort to serve our children and families halted and this,” said Canton. As for the fire, “This won’t halt us either.”

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