Hidden Villa Summer Camp is known to bring diverse campers together to enjoy all kinds of exciting activities on the farm and in our wilderness area. In the midst of song-singing, food-harvesting, or cow-milking, something profound happens between campers. But the experience ripples beyond the campers to the Summer Camp counselors. These young people are introduced to a toolkit of communication skills, curriculum development abilites and leadership opportunities. The way that camp is set-up allows campers to transition into Assistant Counselors in Training (ACT), and then on to serve as counselors. Seth and Keili are great examples of the way that Hidden Villa summer camp is creating leaders of all ages.
Kinder Camp is Hidden Villa's newest offering and engages the youngest generation of earth stewards in hands-on fun with the farm and the natural world. Seth is the perfect fit for guiding leaders of tomorrow as the Program Head for Kinder Camp. He brings 17 years of Hidden Villa summer camp experience as both a camper and counselor and knows how to boogie on down to a good camp song. Seth is also training new camp counselors and shaping the program to hold true to Hidden Villa Summer Camp values: environment, family, diversity, farm & food, and identity. “We believe that sharing these values will help encourage the cultivation of empathy. I’m excited to build the foundation for Kinder Camp and watch the kids come back year after year.”
Keili first came to Hidden Villa summer camp at the age of 8. She is now 22 and the Program Head for Residential Summer Camp. That kind of dedication has earned her the honored "lifer" title here at Hidden Villa.“HV Summer Camp always felt like home to me, and I loved that the counselors created a safe space for us to be ourselves. That is what inspired me to be a counselor and now the Program Head for Residential Camp. It makes me happy to know that my family is creating our own legacy here: I first came here on scholarship and now my parents donate to the scholarship fund to share this place. Plus, my two younger siblings are in Kinder Camp and Day Camp this summer.” We're happy to have such great leaders on our summer camp staff team and we appreciate your support in collaborating with us to make it all possible.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
This is a proverb perfectly mirrors the experience that high-school aged youth get when they participate in Hidden Villa’s summer camp program, Farm Academy. This 3 or 6 week apprenticeship combines field-based instruction with hands-on experience in sustainable organic farming. Working alongside the Hidden Villa agriculture team participants are exposed to progressive food production practices and philosophies. They learn about irrigation techniques, the science of soil, pest, and disease management, as well as environmental and social issues in agriculture.
“In school we learn biology, physics, chemistry, but not much about agriculture. At Farm Academy we’re learning where our food comes from, which is important because everyone has to eat. You can go to school all your life without knowing where your meat or vegetables come from. We see how much work it takes and understand why there are people that are standing up for farmworker rights.” – 2013 Farm Academy Participant.
Gaining the skills and experience in farming techniques is an important aspect to Farm Academy, but equally important is recognizing the way that food brings us together. Participants harvest and cook for a weekly potluck, bringing together volunteers, staff, and community members. They prepare and harvest for weekly Community Supported Agriculture shareboxes, donations to the Community Services Agency of Mountain View, and for the Los Altos Farmer’s Market. Farm Academy participants see the full cycle of the season from farm, to market and table.
We are excited for our upcoming Farm Academy and feel privileged to be teaching young people to grow food, for themselves and others for a lifetime.
Summer Camp registration began last week, which means we’re gearing up for our 69th year of Hidden Villa summer camps. Each summer, campers of diverse ethnicities, economic status, religions, and family structures come together to enjoy a wide range of exciting activities, farm life and wilderness exploration. In the midst of song-singing and game-playing, something profound takes place at camp. Young people learn what it means to live in community. They develop greater multicultural understanding and appreciation, resolve conflicts peacefully, cultivate independence, and overcome personal challenges. Lifelong friendships begin here, and campers take with them a new sense of awe for natural beauty.
This year we are excited to offer a wider variety of camp options for young people. Kinder Camp, offered for children ages 4-5, will explore and discover Hidden Villa’s farm and surrounding natural beauty. From the garden to the barn, from the pasture to the kitchen, campers will play and learn in a small group setting. This is a great, hands-on learning opportunity for the young and curious.
Another new offering for summer 2014 is our Sierra Backpacking Trip. During this trip backpackers will join the Alpines of the Americas Project to hike in Yosemite National Park. After spending the first two days at Hidden Villa, the group will spend 15 days exploring San Francisco’s water source; starting at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, hiking into Tuolumne Meadows, and ending in Yosemite Valley! Along the way the group will transform into citizen scientists to recreate historic photos, volunteer with the National Park Service, and return to the farm with memories that last a lifetime.
We are excited to meet our campers this summer, new and old, who will be stewards of our natural environment and help us create a just and sustainable future.
With the change in temperature and the turn of the leaves, we tansition from the end of summer and begin preparations for the next. As with the end of anything impactful and marvelous, we celebrate the summer before closing the door. This summer we served 1,164 campers with 37% of residential campers attending on scholarship.
Our day campers enjoyed puppet shows on Fridays in the house built by our founders, Josephine and Frank Duveneck. Our residential campers learned to care for farm animals while stretching their own sense of self, independence and responsibility. Bay 2 Sea campers experienced team building, self awareness and environmental stewardship while on a ten day backpacking trip. One camper reflected their experience of the backpacking trip by stating:
"During Bay 2 Sea, I realized that we count on nature and I learned to respect it. …For once I didn’t care how I looked or smelled and I was able to just be myself. …There is no team bonding better than hiking 55 miles with only each other for company & entertainment. I have never been as happy as the moment that my bare feet touched the sea after nine days of backpacking. We were holding hands, laughing, singing and smiling like we were on top of the world. I will never forget that moment for as long as I live."
It is these stories and life events that make a summer at Hidden Villa unforgettable and give us the motivation and excitement to begin working on creating space for another group of young leaders to inspire and just and sustainable future through our programs, land and legacy.
We are familiar with the magic of Hidden Villa's Summer Camp programs. The undercurrent of intention and powerful energy guiding these programs reveals this mystery. A Residential camper pops a sour grape in her mouth as she pokes her head in the secret grape hut. Inside, her chore group is cooling off while chatting about how the 1965 grape strike and boycott influenced pesticide policies throughout california and the standard of living for farm workers nationally. Meanwhile atop Black Mountain, Farm and Wilderness campers are creating common ground. Through a ceremony of sharing vulnerabilities, the twenty-four teens discover that they are not alone. "I feel closer to you guys then my friends I've had my whole life," reflects one F&W camper. "I want to try and build this at home."In Tipi Camp a similar nurturing community built upon curiosity and respect is being cultivated. A 9 year old camper told his mother about "learning to be an ally, how its better to use an 'I' statement and not a 'you' statement, and the gender roles exercise. Then he summed up in this way: "Its not the other camps I've gone to, you don't just do crafts and learn archery, its like a 'how to live a good life' camp.""Thank you for giving youth the opportunity to discover membership in a community united around positive change.
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