Empower 400 Youth to Make a More Peaceful Tomorrow

by Hidden Villa
Vetted
Friendship, Respect for Nature, and Fun!
Friendship, Respect for Nature, and Fun!

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.

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Day Camp Puppet Show
Day Camp Puppet Show

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.

Residential Camp Animal Chores
Residential Camp Animal Chores

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Day Campers!
Day Campers!

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.

Campers head out for backpacking
Campers head out for backpacking
Daily Chores: bottle feeding baby goats
Daily Chores: bottle feeding baby goats

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Learning to Lead
Learning to Lead

Soon the summer will be upon us, which means the sound of children of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and family structures singing loudly and laughing easily together. Our dynamic summer staff is responsible for ensuring fun and meaningful experiences through intentional—and safe—activities.

Our community of staff mirror the diversity found within our camper population, which provides unique opportunities for campers to see themselves in their mentors. Much of the material presented has been developed and honed under the staff’s own life experience, which becomes a tool of identification for many of our campers to relate to.

Hidden Villa Summer Camp's vision is to foster multicultural understanding and promote social justice in the community and is nestled in Hidden Villa's broader mission of utilizing its land and wilderness to encourage just and sustainable living. Great intentionality goes into the recruiting of our staff to ensure a well-rounded educational opportunity for both campers and staff that will inspire a just and sustainable future.

We approach hiring with every facet of Hidden Villa in mind. We utilize programs such as the Association of Experiential Education to advertise positions to environmental stewards and partner with nonprofits such as Summer Search and Students Rising Above that focus on the continued success of their participants that identify as low-income. Hidden Villa has a proud history of supporting all backgrounds through scholarships to ensure a community where all voices may be represented, supported, and nurtured.

A Youth Development Focus
A Youth Development Focus
Building Community Across Lines of Difference
Building Community Across Lines of Difference

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Summer Camp Staff
Summer Camp Staff

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.”

Fun in the sun!
Fun in the sun!

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Organization Information

Hidden Villa

Location: Los Altos Hills, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.hiddenvilla.org
Project Leader:
Tenaya Schnare
Development Associate
Los Altos Hills, California United States

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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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