Field trip registration is open! Visit our Programs: Schools & Groups page for more info.

Community Update

August 19, 2022

Dear Hidden Villa Community,

Last week, we celebrated and bid farewell to the summer camp counselors who chose to remain at Hidden Villa to support summer activities and events. We are grateful for their contribution and dedication to Hidden Villa during a challenging period. It was heartening to see the ranch come alive again with the children and families enjoying this beautiful land during the programs they offered: archery, floral jewelry, goat milking, and of course the summer picnic! Thank you, counselors – we hope to see you again next summer!

In our last update, we shared that both the Tree Guild and Co-Board Chairs are committed to supporting and working closely toward the goal of hiring a long-term Executive Director. We’re excited to share that we’ve begun the interview process with some extremely well-qualified and inspiring candidates! We’ll be sure to share updates as the process continues.

We are currently focusing on an internal process to identify our learnings from the recent past, restore and co-create a collaborative and inclusive culture so we can better serve our mission. We are engaging in this work while simultaneously building the budget for the next fiscal year. It’s proving a challenge to resource this critical work while also re-building our staffing for programs. We’ll need your support, especially these next several months, as we continue to engage in the restoration process, healing, and rebuilding.

There will be many upcoming opportunities for you to support Hidden Villa. The first one is to help us spread the word that registration for our fall education programs opens on August 23rd! We also need volunteers to help provide meaningful hands-on experiences at Hidden Villa for students. We will be hosting a volunteer training day on September 10th. Please email [email protected] to learn more. And please sign up for our newsletter to continue to receive community updates and upcoming programs in the footer of our website.

Thank you for being a part of the Hidden Villa Community.

Best wishes,

Co-Board Chairs, [email protected]
Caroline, Jackie, and Sally

Tree Guild Members, [email protected]
Heather, Jason, Jessica, and Nicky


August 2, 2022

Dear Hidden Villa Community,

We hope you’re enjoying the summer. As you know, this summer has been a challenging time at Hidden Villa. We are addressing the situation head on and have decided to take a short and long term approach so that we can address immediate issues while we plan for the long term sustainability of Hidden Villa. We’d like to share a brief update with you on these steps and will continue to update you as we meet different milestones.

Leadership
On June 30, the two-year term of our Board Chair, Peter Hartzell, ended. The Board elected three Co-Chairs, Sally Falkenhagen, Jackie Radcliffe, and Caroline Rumptz, to lead through September 30, 2022. Their goal as Co-Chairs is to support the work of Hidden Villa’s managers and staff as we heal, build trust, and work toward delivering our mission to the community.

The Tree Guild, a group of 4 Senior Directors at Hidden Villa, have been empowered to work together to take actions that are immediate and necessary for Hidden Villa’s operational effectiveness for the short term. This group includes Nicky Crummett, Senior Director of Programs; Jessica DuVal, Interim Director of Development and Communications; Heather Jensen, Controller; and Jason McKenney, Land and Property Director.

Both the Tree Guild and Co-Board Chairs are committed to supporting and working closely toward the goal of hiring a long-term Executive Director. We will take a measured approach to identifying the appropriate leadership structure and individuals to take Hidden Villa into the future. We are currently focused on an internal process to identify our learnings from the recent past, restore and co-create a collaborative and inclusive culture so we can better serve our mission through our shared values, and build an action plan that will be the foundation for moving forward together.

We recognize that the connection so many people experience to Hidden Villa is profound. One thing that has been encouraging for the Staff and Board of Trustees over the summer has been the support and interest of our broader community – people who have touched Hidden Villa as campers, counselors, field trip participants, visitors, supporters, volunteers, former staff, board, and interns, and those who knew Frank and Josephine personally. We are committed to creating and sustaining a deeper connection with the wider Hidden Villa community. Hidden Villa is 98 years young – what we do now, together, will set us up to plan for the next 98 years.

Family Picnic
Please join us at our Family Picnic Day this Saturday. The day will be filled with animal visits, games, food, and lots of fun! You can learn more and purchase tickets on our website. We invite all families registered for Summer Camp this year to participate free of charge.

Thank you for being a part of our community.

Best wishes,

Co-Board Chairs, [email protected]
Caroline, Jackie, and Sally

Tree Guild Members, [email protected]
Heather, Jason, Jessica, and Nicky


June 13, 2022

Dear Hidden Villa Community,

I hope this email finds you well. Following up on our email from June 8, we have additional updates to share with you.

As a community, many of us are still reeling, processing, and in pain from the recent events that have transpired. This week, we are focused on an internal reflection process. All staff members will be invited to participate in a series of facilitated meetings to ensure that staff is heard, understood, and given space to voice their perspectives.

Hearing from our valued community members is also important, so in the near future we’ll be reaching out to groups of program participants, donors, former staff, mission-aligned organization partners, and other affinity groups. After we go through this listening process, we will then create an actionable plan that outlines our systems and structure to ensure that we uphold the values that are fundamental to Hidden Villa. Our hope is this will lead towards a restorative process and developing positive strategies for moving forward as an organization.

During this week of reflection, Hidden Villa will be closed (from Monday, June 13 through Monday, June 20). We plan to open to visitors again starting on Tuesday, June 21st. Please visit our website for more information on planning your trip.

We also want to share that Philip Arca tendered his resignation on Friday, June 10, as Interim Executive Director due to health reasons. The search for a new, long-term Executive Director continues. We will be seeking a candidate who demonstrates commitment and expertise in embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion principles and systems into an organization. Applicants have been apprised of the closure of Camp and recent events. The Board is actively looking for solutions for the short-term leadership gap.

Finally, a group of staff along with dedicated former staff will be exploring summer programming opportunities for the coming weeks. We will share more information as soon as we have it.

In closing, I want to thank everyone who has reached out. We appreciate the support, perspectives, questions, concerns, and constructive criticism. Hidden Villa is a special place for a large and diverse community. We will continue to do our very best to ensure this community gem remains a refuge that builds connections and inspires a deeper appreciation and respect for nature, food, and one another.

Sincerely,

Peter Hartzell, Board Chair, [email protected]


June 8, 2022

Dear Friend,

It is with an extremely heavy heart that we are writing to share with you the very difficult decision made on Monday, June 6, to cancel all Hidden Villa Summer Camp sessions in 2022. This is the first time in our history that we canceled all Camp programming. Many of you have likely heard this news already. It has been our priority to share this information with the families directly affected, and now we wanted to share the sad news with you.

Staffing for Camp has been a challenge over the past several years. In anticipation, we significantly invested in outreach, but still struggled with meeting programmatic needs. We were at less than 50% of ideal staffing in early May. This is an industry-wide challenge:

“… camps continue to struggle with an ability to staff adequately. This issue was present before the pandemic but is so much worse now. We are certainly not alone in that challenge, but it directly impacts our industry’s ability to meet the current need.”
– American Camping Association 5/6/22

On May 27, we made the very difficult decision to cancel some Day Camp Sessions for campers entering Kindergarten, 5th, and 6th grades. These age groups were selected because our Kinder Camp requires a higher staffing ratio than other age groups and 5th and 6th-grade programs are not as highly in demand. After these sessions were canceled, we felt fairly confident that we would be able to provide a safe Camp for the day and residential camps that were not canceled, although staffing numbers were still very tight. Over this past weekend, 4 camp staff, including the Summer Camp Director, handed in their resignation effective immediately. Losing these key positions led to the heart-wrenching decision that we would be unable to responsibly provide a safe Summer Camp experience. If we thought that we could provide a safe experience for our youth, we would have found a way to operate Camp.

Part of what caused the abrupt departure of Camp Staff was an ongoing process to discuss symbols on the historic Duveneck house. The house, built in 1929, had 3 tiles, approximately twelve inches by twelve inches, with Buddhist swastikas and a lotus embedded in the architecture. These tiles were purchased by Frank and Josephine Duveneck while on their honeymoon in 1913 traveling through Asia. It was brought to the community’s attention that the Buddhist symbols were experienced differently and some individuals experienced harm from their presence on the building. A process to address the issue was identified with Staff and Board. After community discussions, on Monday, June 6, the decision was made to remove the tiles from the building. They were removed on Tuesday, June 7.

The resignation of our Camp leadership team on June 5th, prior to the decision of the Committee on June 6, put us in the position of making the difficult decision regarding Camp. It also highlights the need for the organization to continue to pause, reflect, and further develop plans of action to address the racial equity concerns shared by staff. Honoring and welcoming people from all backgrounds at Hidden Villa is core to who we are and what we stand for. Any pain that our current and former staff, especially any Staff of Color, have felt during their tenure at the organization, deeply saddens us. We are committed to creating an environment where all feel seen, welcome, and heard.

Hidden Villa has been investing in issues of racial equity over the last couple of years, such as the formation of the JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Council, the DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access) Advisory Committee, and staff training, but for some, the pace of change has been too slow. Unfortunately, in organizing a complex and inclusive process, we were too slow to respond to the voices that expressed pain and concern over the symbols on the house, and we recognize how that was interpreted as a lack of concern.

The decision to cancel Camp has been heart-wrenching and staff is still triaging care for all involved. We acknowledge the impact our decision to cancel Camp has had a truly painful impact on the 900+ campers, approximately 700 families, Hidden Villa seasonal Camp staff, partners, and vendors who help us deliver our Summer Camp. Over the next few weeks, we will continue to come together internally to outline the next steps to address these issues, restore the health of our community process, and we will share the plan with you.

We are available if you’d like to speak or reach out to us.

Sincerely,

Peter Hartzell, Board Chair, [email protected]