Frequently Asked Questions
School Programs (Preschool to 6th Grade) FAQ
Summer Camp FAQ
- What is Hidden Villa?
Hidden Villa is a nonprofit educational organization that uses its organic farm, wilderness, and community to teach and provide opportunities to learn about the environment and social justice.
- Is Hidden Villa private?
Founded by the Duveneck family over 60 years ago, Hidden Villa has been a private nonprofit organization since 1960. We receive no government funds and rely on donations to provide this valuable service to our community.
- Can anyone come and visit?
Yes, we are open to the public.
- When are you open?
Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. until dusk (closed on Mondays, except holidays). We are closed during the summer for our camp program, except for a few open weekends – check Visit Us for updates.
- Is there a fee to visit?
We ask for a $5 parking fee per vehicle to offset the costs of maintaining the land. (paid either to our gate keeper, if on-duty, or by honor system in the canister near the Gate House or Education Garden). The parking fee is also waived for rentals and public programs participants. You may also purchase a season pass.
- How can I come for a visit?
Individuals or families can come to the farm during open hours of operation: Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. until dusk (closed on Mondays, except holidays). Map and directions. Park at the Program Parking Lot. Parking fee is $5 (paid either to our gate keeper, if on-duty, or by honor system in the canister near the Gate House or Education Garden). Groups of 10 or more must schedule a visit in advance with the Community Programs (Public Programs) Department at (650)-949-6326 email@example.com.
- Where can I park?
Please park at the Main Parking Lot. The Dana Center lot is used only as overflow.
- Are you a petting zoo?
No, Hidden Villa is not a petting zoo. You cannot go into the pens with the animals unless on a guided tour. Even guided tours may avoid entering some animal pens in accordance with changing conditions on the farm.
- Can we go inside the animal pens?
Due to safety reasons, you may not go inside the animal pens unless you are on a guided tour. Please note that even guided tours may avoid entering some animal pens in accordance with changing conditions on the farm.
- Can we feed the animals?
No, please do not feed the animals. They are well fed and are often on special diets.
- Is it OK to pick things in the gardens?
No. This is because our gardens are used for educational purposes, and production, and we respectfully ask that guests do not pick from them.
- Can I bring a picnic?
Yes, you may. Please note that no food or drink (other than tap water) is available for purchase on the farm. Large group picnic site rentals are available.
- Where's the garbage?
There are no public garbage cans at Hidden Villa. Hidden Villa is committed to a trash-free environment, so we ask that you pack to minimize rubbish and be prepared to take any trash home afterwards.
- Is it stroller friendly?
Yes. The farm is stroller friendly. The roads at Hidden Villa are coated with an environmentally friendly surface but are not paved (similar to dirt roads, surfaces are uneven in places). Hiking trails are not stroller friendly.
- Are dogs allowed?
Yes. Dogs are allowed on leash on the farm but not on the wilderness trails. People must pick up after their dogs. Dogs are not allowed in the animal pens.
- Do I need to register with someone if I have a big group of people and we do not need a tour?
Yes. Groups of 10 or more must contact the Public Programs Department in advance at (650)949-6326 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Do I need to be part of a tour to visit?
No, you do not need to be a part of a tour to visit. The public is invited to visit on a casual basis and go on a self guided tour during the hours of operation. Self guided tours may not enter animal pens.
- How do I arrange a tour?
If you are interested in a public tour on the weekends, please sign up here. If you are interested in bringing a school group, please contact Hidden Villa’s Environmental Education Program (HVEEP) at (650) 949-8644.
- Can we enter the buildings?
Our buildings are all active offices so we ask that you not enter the buildings unless you are part of a group that is currently renting the facility.
- How can I volunteer?
There are many opportunities to volunteer at Hidden Villa from working in the fields to data entry. Interested individuals and groups should contact the Volunteer Coordinator (650) 949-8652.
- Who can I talk to about:
School Programs (Pre-K to 6th Grade)
- Can I bring a group to Hidden Villa without arranging for a tour?
Groups of ten or more people must register with the Rentals department at Hidden Villa and may visit after 2:30pm, when school programs are concluded for the day. We are closed to all visitors on Mondays. For the safety and security of our summer campers, we are also closed for eleven weeks in the summer.
- What programs do you offer for school groups?
For children in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade, we offer a “Farm Tour” that lasts an hour and 15 minutes. . For students in second to sixth grade, we offer full-day programs of up to 5 ½ hours. The full-day programs may also be combined with our “Overnight and Farm Chores” program.
- Can we enter the animal pens without a guide?
For your safety, we cannot permit visitors to enter animal pens without a Hidden Villa guide.
- What if we decide to bring more or fewer people than we originally registered for?
We assign just enough guides to accommodate the pre-arranged number of participants. If you contact us more than thirty days before your visit, adjustments can be made to your reservation and fees. Within thirty days of your visit, if you have fewer participants than were pre-arranged, you will not receive a refund. If you have more participants than expected, they will pay the same rate as the other participants. More than five additional participants without prior notice may result in some individuals being turned away.
- Do tours still take place if it is raining?
Yes, our programs run rain or shine! If we determine that conditions on the ranch are unsafe, we will contact you on the morning of your tour. Only tours that must be canceled by Hidden Villa will be refunded or rescheduled for a later date.
- Can we feed the animals?
Please do not feed our farm animals unless you’re on a guided tour that allows you to do so. Because we are an organic farm, the animal care staff must be very careful about what the animals are fed. Only under the direct supervision of a specially trained Hidden Villa guide may tour participants offer token amounts of approved feed.
- My students have already been to Hidden Villa once. Do you offer any other programs?
For students in second grade and up, please inquire about our Special Programs. We can also adapt our standard programs to refresh the experience for repeat visitors by emphasizing science standards for the next grade level or by adopting a special theme.
In addition, we encourage students to return to Hidden Villa with their families and friends on the weekends. Our Community Programs Department (Public Programs) offers a wide range of fun and educational activities for all ages! Check out our Calendar of Events!
- This program sounds great! How can I help out?
We rely on a diverse, passionate crew of volunteers to make our programs unforgettable. Find out how you can become a farm and wilderness guide. We also benefit from the assistance of a talented group of Environmental Education Interns who spend a year teaching in our program, learning about organic farming and working in our popular summer camp program.
- Can accommodation be made for kids and/or adults with special needs?
We encourage and welcome participants with special needs of all kinds. In consultation with you, our staff will do our best to create a memorable experience for your students or clients within the limits of the rural atmosphere of Hidden Villa. Please contact us prior to booking your tour to discuss the possibilities.
- What forms of payment do you accept? When are our payments due?
We accept credit cards, cash, purchase orders, school checks, and personal checks. Your non-refundable deposit of $50.00 is due ten days after you book your visit. The final balance is due thirty days before your field trip date. See more registration details and policies.
- Are scholarships available for school programs?
If your students qualify for the Federal Lunch Program, you may be eligible for one of our scholarships! At least 25% of your students must be eligible for or participating in the Federal Lunch Program. All scholarship-supported visits take place from November through February. Contact us to apply.
- Can adult chaperones bring additional children (for example, younger siblings of program participants) who are not members of the class?
Siblings and additional children are welcome on Farm Tours as long as they are included in the expected numbers. The same fee is charged for them as for the other participants. Siblings or additional children are not allowed on Farm and Wilderness Experience programs.
Summer Camp FAQ
Hidden Villa Summer Camp has been in operation since 1945 and is accredited by the American Camp Association, the organization which sets standards for camps nationwide. This accreditation ensures that we comply with up to 300 health, safety, and program-quality standards.
- How are your counselors selected?
Our fantastic summer counselors come from all over the country and around the world. They are hired as a result of an extensive application and interview process, which includes references. Once hired, our counselors are required to be fingerprinted and background-checked by the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the National Sex Offenders Registry. An average of 40% of our counselors return from previous years at Hidden Villa. Counselors must be certified in first aid and CPR, and they must also attend up to two weeks of orientation at Hidden Villa. Our counselor camper ratio is 1:8.
- What kind of camp program does Hidden Villa offer?
Hidden Villa’s programs are designed around our organic farm and wilderness. In addition to traditional camp activities, such as swimming and hiking, campers participate in farm-based activities. As campers grow older, the camp program continually adjusts to meet their needs, campers grow, the program grows with them, introducing them to new elements of wilderness activities and fostering leadership skills and responsibility, all while emphasizing respect for the environment and for others.When does camp registration open? Camp registration typically opens during the last week in January. We use an online registration process. Mail-in applications are available and may be used once registration opens, but may take up to two weeks to process.
- May a camper attend more than one session?
Due to the high demand for spaces and our commitment to providing opportunities for scholarship recipients, campers may attend only one session per summer.
- What happens if my child is on the waitlist?
If a camp session is filled, you may sign up, without cost, to be waitlisted. We will contact you by email if and when a space becomes available. You may then secure that space by making the required deposit or tuition payment within 24 hours.
- Does Hidden Villa provide any financial aid?
Hidden Villa is committed to providing a fun and inspiring camp experience for children from across the socio-economic spectrum. Financial aid is available to qualifying families. A financial aid application may be downloaded from our website after a camper has been registered for a session.
- What are Hidden Villa's refund policy and program change fees?
- We require a non-refundable $55 deposit per participant.
- Camp tuition is due in full by June 1.
- Camp fees are non-refundable after May 31. You must notify us by email before this date if you need to cancel your registration and wish to receive a refund. While Hidden Villa retains the right to keep the entirety of tuition after May 31 in all cases, the following exception may be considered. If a cancellation is made at least 7 days prior to the start of a session and a replacement can be easily found, a partial refund (tuition minus a 25% cancellation fee) may be issued.
- Returned checks are subject to a $20 returned check fee.
- Once registered, session or program changes are possible only as space allows. There will be a $25 administration fee for changes. Please choose your session carefully!
- Can my child call home or send emails?
Our Summer Camp program encourages growth, independence, and confidence-building. Therefore, we prefer that our campers spend their time enjoying nature, making friends, and broadening their horizons, rather than emailing or making phone calls. However, parents are encouraged to send letters to their campers. Parents may also use the “Bunk Notes” feature on the Hidden Villa website to send emails to their campers. Mail and emails are distributed daily.
- Can friends come to camp together?
At Hidden Villa, we believe that camp is for making new friends. To foster the spirit of inclusiveness, we do not take “buddy requests.” Campers may get together with their friends during mealtimes, pool time, and some free-choice activities together in the course of the camp session, but we do not fulfill requests to place children in groups or cabins with their friends.
- What kind of food do the campers eat?
Meals at camp are nutritious and kid-friendly. An array of choices are offered, and a vegetarian option is always available. Our kitchen staff can provide gluten-free alternatives, and our staff is trained to be accommodating of food allergies.
- What about medical attention?
A camp nurse is onsite throughout the summer to attend to any medical needs. Overnight campers, with their adults, check in with the nurse upon arrival. At that time, adults have the opportunity to discuss special medical needs, allergies, medications, and any other health issues with the nurse before they leave their child at camp. Medications brought to Camp need to be in their original containers. The nurse is also available to speak to parents throughout the session regarding any concerns they may have.