As Spring transitions into Summer, young people from across the country, and from around the world in some cases, begin arriving at Hidden Villa to prepare for a season working at Summer Camp. Beginning with the application and interview process, including background checks and references, and through intensive orientation and training before and after arrival, we instill in our counselors and leaders the importance of safety. From food handling practices to positive behavior management to first aid and CPR, the ability to maintain the physical and emotional safety of the campers in our charge is the highest priority.
During orientation our summer staff role play emergency scenarios, learn about age-appropriate characteristics, and mandated reporting. Camper forms are meticulously reviewed and medical and developmental needs are noted, all in the service of providing a healthy and positive environment.
We recruit a diverse staff from an array of backgrounds, ethnicities and family structures so that all campers may have an opportunity to see themselves reflected in their role models at camp. Daily conversations, sometimes casual, and often more structured as campers mature, allow participants to give voice to their thoughts and emotions in safe setting of respect and acceptance.
One of our summer staff, Alec, describes Hidden Villa’s mission as providing “…a community in which social and environmental justice are advocated, and in which campers and counselors alike are able to express themselves fully and freely in an atmosphere that is fun, non-judgmental and educational. Summer Camp welcomes differences in race, gender, orientation, opinion and background, and through such embrace, Camp produces young leaders who are able to promote tolerance and acceptance beyond the grounds of Hidden Villa..”
The high rate of returning campers lets us know that the children we serve, and their families, feel confident that Hidden Villa provides an environment of not only respect and emotional safety in which to grow and learn, but also a place that inspires young people to be the change they wish to see in the world.
In the words of one scholarship camper: “ Whoever you are you will be accepted here. The fact that there is a camp that makes it possible for everyone to feel comfortable is a great feeling. I love this camp for existing, and for making it possible for me to come here.”
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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