What’s your fondest memory of summer camp? Singing songs by the campfire? Archery or fishing? Arts and crafts? Making friends?
To make sure CHOP patients didn’t miss out this past summer, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a nonprofit founded by Paul Newman that helps kids with serious medical issues experience the joys of camp, sent 30 volunteers to Philadelphia armed with activity plans, supplies and an endless amount of energy and compassion.
Organized in collaboration with the Department of Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy, the weeklong camp kicked off with an opening “campfire” in the Colket Atrium, complete with s’mores. Kids had the chance to try archery and fishing, participate in a drum circle and attend the Carnivarty — a combination carnival and party where they enjoyed games, dancing, face painting and treats.
Children unable to leave their units could participate in play groups on their floors or individually in their rooms.
Slime Day, with public slimings broadcast live via CHOP’s internal TV channel, Galaxy 51, was a huge hit. Children could nominate their favorite child life specialist to get slimed via the Slime Hot Line. Friday saw the atrium transformed into the WoodCHOP 500, where children were able to make a wooden toy car and race it on special tracks.
“It was the biggest outreach effort we’ve ever done,” says Michele Gill McKenna, LCSW, Philadelphia regional manager of The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp’s Hospital Outreach Program, who is one of three staff members from the organization who visit CHOP patients year-round.
“We can’t wait for next summer.”
— Zan Hale