Hidden Villa is a very special place to me. I've learned so much from the staff community, campers, environment, and feel honored to be a part of the Duveneck Family legacy that is truly lived every day at Hidden Villa. I have been working here for the past three summers and this summer I am the Seasonal Programs Manager.
The other day while walking down the farm and I heard a camp song in the distance. I looked around and saw a group from Day Camp coming up the road. They were adorned with flowers of every color and smiles that were contagious. A young boy stopped and removed a purple flower from a large bouquet he had picked. He handed the flower to me, saying he and his friends were spreading love around camp by giving out appreciation flowers, and he wanted me to know that I was appreciated. These simple, yet heartfelt moments are often the most powerful interactions at camp. Young people begin to see the positive impact they can have on the world. Campers come from diverse socio-economic, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. Coming from a wide array of perspectives, these moments take on a larger meaning. Hidden Villa nurtures young leaders who are equipped with empathy and the ability to appreciate and recognize the unique contributions of each community member.
Early this summer, a group of Rez Camp and Farm & Wilderness campers joined forces to play an exciting and creative game of Rainbow Tag. Ten groups were created, each with five campers and a counselor to facilitate discussion and decision-making among the team members. The object of the game was for each camper group to find and tag every color of the rainbow while keeping the entire group together. Campers learned to cooperate and achieve as a team, while also having a ton of fun singing songs, running around outside and chasing staff representing all colors of the rainbow.
After the game, we formed a circle on the lawn. We appreciated each other for leadership and communication skills and concluded that we were all winners since we had so much fun running around, singing songs, and collecting colors together. We closed by singing one of Josephine Duveneck's favorite songs, "Peace", as we do most nights at Hidden Villa. From the hills I gather courage, visions of the day to be, strength to lead and faith to follow, all are given unto me. Peace I ask of thee oh River, Peace, Peace, Peace.
Hidden Villa brings people together from different communities and backgrounds. Every summer a unique community of staff members create a camp program that teaches compassion, tolerance, and respect for each other and our world. Hidden Villa is a safe space, a retreat from the day-to-day chaos, where you can be exactly who you want to be, in beautiful natural surroundings, while being supported and cared for. Not only do the campers learn from us, but we learn from the campers and each other. The Duveneck legacy is still very much the heart of Hidden Villa as we all evolve together into the leaders of tomorrow.
I cannot imagine what my life would be like today without Hidden Villa or the amazing community we are so fortunate to be a part of. Thank you so much for making this diverse community possible by supporting our Summer Camp scholarship fund. Building community across lines of difference is critical to creating a world where all people are empowered and invited to participate. Without your support, we would not be able to provide the learning spaces where campers of all backgrounds grow into creative thinkers and empathetic leaders. We are deeply grateful to be supported by a community of such thoughtful and conscientious friends.
“The air is different up here,” a camper tells me. On this particular evening it feels cool and fresh and the golden hills surrounding us smell like apples and honey, but earthy too. But more important than the quality of air or light in this magical place, or this feeling of being on top of the world, are the people I’m on top of the world with: twenty-four teenagers from diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, and family lifestyle backgrounds and six amazing youth development counselors full of energy, love, and amazing teaching techniques.
We all completed a strenuous, four-hour hike up Black Mountain yesterday. This journey is a focal piece of the Farm and Wilderness Camp experience, an event it seems we’re preparing for, actually doing, or reflecting on for the majority of our twelve-day session. It is a big deal. It is both a physical and emotional challenge, and also something that we do as a community, supporting each other, and as individuals, pushing ourselves.
Tonight is special; our evening activity is Common Ground. As we begin, I can feel the change in energy; campers’ faces begin to look more pensive, a tad more serious, new friends reach out to hold one another’s hands. A camper bravely steps into the circle and shares about his parents’ divorce. Ten other people step into the circle as well. This means that they can identify with the speaker’s experience and as the eleven of them stand there for a moment, this young man is not alone.
This is the cornerstone of Hidden Villa Summer Camp program: empathy-building between youth and staff from all walks of life. This piece is an integral part of the summer camp experience; the organic camaraderie that springs into place when we’re together on top of a mountain, when we’ve completed a challenge together.
Summer Camp at Hidden Villa gives youth the space to explore who they are, who they want to be and to learn about the unknown. As children and youth make connections between their day-to-day lives and the unfamiliar, they begin to better understand themselves as individuals as well as active players in larger social, cultural, environmental and political systems.
To our generous donors, with incredible gratitude,Hidden Villa Summer Camp has been in the business of changing lives for nearly 70 years. Over that time we have been able to reach tens of thousands of children, families, and community organizations because of you, our generous donors. We began as the first multiracial summer camp in the country and have continued, true to our roots, to bring together youth from all different cultural, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Last summer alone we served a total of 1174 summer campers. Because of supporters like you, we were able to provide 252 youth with camp scholarships totaling $165,000. These campers tried their hands at milking cows, harvesting in the garden, sleeping under the stars, and making friends. Overall, approximately 36% of our residential campers and 8% of our day campers attended our programs with some degree of financial assistance. Our financial accessibility is what makes stories like Nathan's a reality. Nathan lost his father when he was young and his mom has described him as having "a lot of anxiety and unhappiness. He's the kind of kid who is always looking for someone to be judging him and something to go wrong." At camp, we saw him open up. We saw someone happy emerge who felt safe, comfortable, and relaxed around his peers. We saw him challenge himself to move outside his box and have meaningful conversations about family, friends, and culture. According to Nathan, "[Hidden Villa] felt like a far away, completely different place..."We are moved by countless stories like Nathan's. Stories where youth from all walks of life find solace, challenge, reward, and long term friends on our farm. We have seen these moments in campers lives transform into movements of people working for positive change locally and globally. Our camper and staff alumni have taken on jobs as teachers, poets, activists, environmental regulators, lawyers, and politicians, the list goes on.Your support has delivered camp experiences to campers and laid the groundwork for them to move forward to success.
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. All my best,
Hidden Villa Summer Camp
P.S. We have yet to fill all open positions for exceptional Camp staff, and we just opened Camp registration for Summer 2012. If you would like more information about job openings and Camp news you can subscribe to our monthly e.News or follow our blog.
*Name has been changed
Hidden Villa's Summer Camp 2011 is now history, but the experience you have helped us provide will live on as our campers return to school. By investing in our Camp Scholarship Fund earlier this year, you created an opportunity for a local youth to find their voice in a safe and positive environment. You helped instill the values of advocacy, stewardship, and community involvement in a young leader. You made a big difference in the life of a child. Thank you for your support and for investing in our future. Because we realize that your support is the reason for our continued success, we would like to take this opportunity to share some of this summer's highlights with you in order to illustrate how we value your investment.
Thanks to your investment:
Throughout all of our programs we promote diversity, multiculturism, and social justice. To provide these opportunities to a wide range of children, it is essential that we have scholarship funds. We want to ensure that children and youth are able to be a part of Hidden Villa Summer Camp where they learn respect for each other and for the earth. Thanks to supporters like you, we are able to provide these life changing experiences to kids whose financial situations would preclude them from being able to participate.
Our core Summer Camp Staff are currently taking a well deserved break. In two weeks, they will return and begin the process of preparing for Summer Camp 2012 - recruiting diverse staff, reaching out to new partnering organizations, and planning how to facilitate powerful experiences for the campers of 2012. Let's celebrate the successes of Summer Camp 2011 and look forward to Summer Camp 2012!
Our sincerest thanks,
Team Hidden Villa
P.S. If you haven't seen our new website, please check it out at www.hiddenvilla.org
Dear Supporters,Hidden Villa’s campaign to provide Summer Camp Scholarships in 2011 is well under way and we are getting closer to our ultimate goal of providing $160,000 of scholarship funds to campers who could otherwise not attend. Here are some highlights:
Based on the funds we’ve raised through Global Giving, Hidden Villa will now be able to offer a Tipi Camp Scholarship to a young gentleman named Sasha, whose hard-working family lives below the poverty line. We received a note from Sasha's parents earlier this year that said, "Since last summer Sasha has been telling me he would love to come to Hidden Villa again. He enjoys being in nature, and living at Hidden Villa for a week boosted his sense of self-confidence---I was very happy to see that." Thank you for making it possible for us to provide Sasha with another opportunity to grow and thrive at Hidden Villa Summer Camp. Your generosity is greatly enriching the lives of our community's under-served youth. Together we will help inspire these campers to become active and conscientious participants in a just and sustainable future.
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