How Volunteer Nurses Bring a Different Kind of Healing To Kids at Summer Camp

3 Min Read Published April 2, 2024
How Volunteer Nurses Bring a Different Kind of Healing To Kids at Summer Camp

This is a guest article by Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

The health and safety of the children with serious illnesses and families that attend Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Connecticut, each summer is a top priority, and so is fun, not just for the campers, but for volunteer counselors and medical staff as well. So much so, that, every summer at Hole in the Wall, you’ll spot a familiar group of nurses volunteering in the infirmary, also known as the “OK Corral,” and hear their laughter echoing throughout Camp. 

The Golden Girls

Sue, Noel, Diane, and Maryanne, fondly called the Golden Girls around Camp, have been a fixture in the infirmary since 2011, bringing years of healthcare expertise and plenty of silliness. The four, who all have spent decades dedicated to nursing careers, met at Camp. Sue and Noel began volunteering first as nurses in 2004. Then in 2007, Diane had her first Camp experience. And in 2011, Maryanne joined in the fun. Their stories and backgrounds are unique, coming from Conn., New Jersey, New York and even Kansas, but they all say they leave Hole in the Wall better than when they arrived. 

Volunteering as a Camp Nurse

“Our volunteers are truly the backbone of our infirmary – making all the joy and hope possible by providing seamless and unobtrusive medical care,” said Camp Nursing Director Emily Ring. “Because of our nurses’ expertise and dedication, our campers can truly leave their illness behind and just be kids. And the relationships the team builds within the infirmary are just as rewarding and life-changing.”

“Camp makes me a better nurse,” Sue said. “It feeds the soul.” Watching the campers grow from year to year is a source of happiness for the group – especially when they find one of their patients from home joining them onsite for the week or when one of their former campers comes back as a summer counselor. And seeing what all the campers take from their experiences is inspirational. “It’s really heartening to see the kids grow and develop,” Noel said. And Diane added, “They learn how to factor themselves. They buddy up. If one kid is afraid, another will come and help. They all fit in here – no one looks at each other differently.” 

And while the group keeps in touch over the winter and even plans an annual trip to Florida, they can’t wait to get back to Camp each summer to share in the magic. “You’re doing good work in a beautiful setting with people who care about you and who you care about,” Maryanne said. “It makes me refreshed and able to face whatever comes my way.” 

About The Hole in The Wall Gang Camp

Nearly 2,900 volunteers donate nearly 40,000 hours of their time and talent each year to help Hole in the Wall provide “a different kind of healing” to thousands of children with serious illnesses and their family members annually – all completely free of charge. While volunteer nursing opportunities are specific to working directly with children and families at Camp in Ashford, Conn., volunteers also support Camp at hospitals and clinics, directly in camper homes and communities and through other outreach activities across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

If you’d like to learn more about volunteering at Camp this summer, contact the volunteer team at or visit


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