By Daniella Genovese
Published February 23, 2021
The four buildings on the camp, which has offered an emotional escape for tens of thousands of children with severe and life-threatening illnesses and their families since 1988, were left in ruin after the Feb. 12 blaze. No one was hurt in the "significant" fire.
The camp store, arts and crafts, woodshop and cooking programs, located in an area on camp known as Downtown, were completely destroyed, the camp's chief executive, Jimmy Canton, said in an Instagram post.
Within hours, however, support from over 3,000 current and former campers, staff members and volunteers -- who are familiar with the "transformational spirit and friendships that go hand-in-hand" with the camp -- began to pour in.
By Friday, the camp had already received more than $900,000 from sources, including charitable foundations, celebrities such as golfer Bubba Watson, and even the families of campers.
As a result of the "tremendous outpouring of kindness and generosity from the thousands of people in our Camp family," the $1 million match in donations initiated by The Travelers Companies, Inc. and the Travelers Championship "to inspire community support" was achieved, Canton said Tuesday.
"The fire may have come as a shock, but the outpouring of support was hardly a surprise," Travelers CEO Alan Schnitzer said. "The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp has touched many lives and countless hearts."
Those funds, on top of the $1 million commitment from the company's longtime charity partner, Newman’s Own Foundation, will allow the camp to rebuild the structures "to best meet the current, future and varied needs of the seriously ill children the Camp serves," the camp said.
"To every person who donated, every camper family that raised money on social media and everyone who reached out with their prayers and well wishes, know that we are honored by your friendship," Canton said in a statement Tuesday. "It is because of this incredible support that we can now focus our efforts on rebuilding."
After the fire broke out, the camp quickly took to social media to remind the community that although the iconic Old West-themed buildings were gone, the memories and true purpose of the camp will live on.
"While these iconic buildings may be gone, the memories made inside live on forever and we will rebuild Downtown Camp so that more children and families can experience the magic of Hole in the Wall for many years to come," the camp wrote.
Canton said insurance will cover much of the rebuilding costs, but the plan is to construct a better, much larger and safer single-level complex that is more accessible to children with a wide variety of physical needs.
The camp plans to build the new buildings out of something more durable than wood, with sprinkler systems and large underground cisterns.
The legendary camp works to provide a "different kind of healing" to 20,000 children and their families each year by altering traditional camp programs so anyone with a physical or mental limitation can participate — and it's completely free of charge.
Although The Hole in the Wall provides multiple camp experiences throughout the year on its grounds in Connecticut, staff members also work diligently to provide a "different kind of healing" in camper homes, communities and at more than 40 hospitals and clinics across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic.
The camp is funded in part through proceeds from the sale of Newman’s Own brand products. The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp has also been a primary beneficiary of the Travelers Championship, the PGA Tour event held each year in Connecticut, for well over a decade.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.