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Camp For Seriously Ill Children To Build Second Location On Maryland's Eastern Shore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A well-known camp for sick children and their families will build its second location on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp announced plans Tuesday to open its second location in Queenstown, Md. at the Aspen Institute's former 166-acre Wye River Conference Center.

The Aspen Institute, a nonprofit for humanistic studies, is donating a majority of the property to Hole in the Wall. The property was gifted to the institute in 1988, so the organization is paying it forward.

"Since 1979, the Wye River campus has played an important role in the Aspen Institute's history. This beautiful and protected site has hosted countless seminars and convenings, including some of international significance," said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. "We are now proud to make available a significant part of this land to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to become their second location. Their mission to provide joy to children with serious illnesses and their families is inspiring, and secures a wonderful future for the Wye River campus." 

The camp was founded in 1988 by legendary actor and entrepreneur Paul Newman to provide "a different kind of healing" to seriously ill children and their families, completely free of charge. The camp, based in Ashford, Connecticut, mostly serves families within a three-hour radius, as will the Maryland location.

The camp said the Maryland location is an ideal location because of its proximity to some of the United States' most prominent pediatric hospitals, like the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and the University of Maryland Children's Hospital.

The Wye Conference Center has several residential buildings and other conference facilities that will be renovated to give the camp a starting point to begin programming.

"The facilities and all programming will be designed to be family inclusive so that those most devastated and isolated by serious illnesses, including the rare disease community, will be able to find a caring community of support that understands their unique challenges," the camp said. 

With its year-round programs, the camp serves 20,000 people annually, and it hopes to bring that impact to the Mid-Atlantic.

Lisa Nickerson and her son, Evan Bucklin, visited the camp when her daughter was ill.

"When my daughter died, I was equally worried about Evan because emotionally it took such a toll," Nickerson said.

"It truly is a one-of-a-kind experience," Bucklin said. "It gives you a lot of the things kids in that age, in that environment really need- which is both friendship, an environment where they can have some fun... it gave me some sense of power over my own life."

Construction and renovation at the camp is expected to be complete by Summer 2023, which is when programming will begin.


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