Update March 11, 2021
We are thrilled to be planning to host real, live, humans for overnight camp this year! We continue to hold safety and equity at the forefront of our minds. All of our decision-making is based on best practices as listed in the American Camp Association’s Field Guide for Camps and county guidelines.
You can expect new experiences that will be fun and safe this summer at Hidden Villa. To facilitate a culture of health and safety for our camp community, we will be offering only overnight camp experiences for campers entering 5th – 12th grade this year.
Please read on to get a feel for the Hidden Villa Summer Camp experience and registration process.
And learn more about how we’re cultivating a culture of health & safety this summer in a recent interview with the Los Altos Town Crier.
Hidden Villa Summer Camp
The beautiful setting and open philosophy of Hidden Villa make for an especially memorable experience for children of all ages. The camp is designed to grow with children and adjust to meet their needs, introducing them to wilderness and farm activities, fostering leadership skills and responsibility, and emphasizing respect for the environment and for others.
In 1945, Josephine Duveneck started the first multi-racial residential summer camp in the United States here at Hidden Villa. Our summer camp program remains rooted in the Duveneck family legacy of social justice and environmental stewardship, bringing together a diverse group of campers and staff, unplugged from the busyness of everyday life, and giving them the unique opportunity to build a better community through shared experience.
We achieve this through focusing on the following core themes as the foundation of our curriculum, sharing them in ways that are relevant and age-appropriate to each program:
- Environmental Stewardship
- Race & Class
- Farm & Food
- Duveneck Family Legacy
In the midst of song-singing and caring for the farm animals, something profound takes place at camp: young people learn what it means to live in a community. They develop greater multicultural understanding and appreciation, resolve conflicts peacefully, cultivate independence, and overcome personal challenges. Lifelong, face-to-face friendships begin here and campers take with them a new sense of awe for natural and human beauty.
Our High Standards
Hidden Villa Summer Camp is accredited by the American Camp Association. This accreditation ensures that we comply with up to 300 health, safety, and program quality standards, undergoing a thorough peer review of our operation — from staff qualifications and training to emergency management.
- Registration is open through May 24th as space allows.
- Final payments are due May 14.
- Registration closes on May 24.
- Camper forms are due no later than May 31 (forms are provided to campers after their application is accepted).
Please note the following changes in our sessions for the 2021 season:
- Not all sessions run from Monday through Friday. We have staggered our sessions to allow for longer weekend breaks for the health and well-being of our staff and for added time to receive COVID-19 testing results.
- Pickup and drop-off times will be moved to the evening to better accommodate work schedules of parents/guardians and to create more equitable access to our programs.
This summer’s session dates are as follows:
Session 1: Monday, June 14 – Friday, June 25
Session 2: Tuesday, June 29 – Saturday, July 10
Session 3: Wednesday, July 14 – Sunday, July 25
Session 4: Wednesday, July 28 – Sunday, August 8
Camp this year will be offered to youth entering 5th through 12th grade in Fall 2021 and will consist of residential, 11-night sessions. Groups will be separated by the following grade levels: 5th – 7th grades, 8th – 9th grades, and 10th – 12th grades.
In the tradition of our founders, Josephine and Frank Duveneck, youth who attend our programs enjoy traditional camp activities such as games, swimming, and arts and crafts. They also learn about the natural world and experience living in a community with young people from different backgrounds. Campers work on the farm, hike in the wilderness, participate in animal chores and experience thoughtful periods of reflection and stimulating conversation.
Introducing the Summer of Roots and Boots:
This year’s summer camp will focus on the theme of Boots and Roots to highlight the relationships between humans and the natural world. In keeping with our camp’s five pillars, camper learning and fun will center around the following themes:
Rooted in Justice
Campers will learn the legacy of Frank and Josephine Duveneck and our camp’s history of social justice and environmental stewardship to create the next generation of change-makers. Whether it’s a game, a timeline hike along the creek, or a play put on by our multi-talented camp staff, campers will have a fun-filled time!
Walk a mile through someone else’s roots
Campers will spend time getting to know their fellow campers and their camp counselors, with a special focus on understanding different perspectives and cultures. Campers will be immersed in a camp culture that aims to center race and class equity.
These boots are made for anyone
Campers will learn about gender roles, stereotypes, and how to break them! At Hidden Villa Summer Camp we introduce ourselves by including our pronouns and work to create gender-inclusive spaces that make trans and non-binary campers and staff feel welcome.
Feeling the ground beneath our boots
When we walk on the ground do we notice what lies beneath? At Hidden Villa Summer Camp we work with our campers to connect with the natural world beneath our boots and all around us.
Roots you can eat
Campers will put their hands in the dirt and learn and grow with us on our organic farm. Campers will support our working farm with daily farm chores and learn about food systems in our community and beyond.
Once at camp, our camper cohorts will work together to create their own group identities that will influence the fun they have at camp. We are excited to see our campers grow together as Courageous Carrots, Outrageous Onions, or Booming Beets. Which root will your camper relate to? We can’t wait to find out!
Learn more about camp!
We develop young leaders who are committed to social and environmental justice and are equipped with a sense of awe for natural and human beauty, tools for non-violent, multi-cultural community-building, as well as the confidence to make a positive change in our families, communities, and world.
Our programs promote an eagerness of learning about ourselves and others through a framework built on the respect of differences and our responsibility to make positive impacts on our families, communities, and the world. Life on the farm provides campers with the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of fun activities. Whether six or sixteen, youth explore our wilderness, investigate our garden, and participate in our social justice curriculum.
At all ages, we encourage youth to practice the skills of engaging their curiosity, thinking critically, and advocating for themselves and others. For example, staff working with our youngest campers are encouraged to model acceptance and self-expression through clothing choices that challenge gender stereotypes. Meanwhile, our teens in the Farm and Wilderness program may use their hands-on experience with farming to delve into the topic of immigrants’ rights in today’s society while learning about Hidden Villa’s connection to Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers movement.
Our core themes of environmental stewardship, race and class, farm and food, LGBTQ+, and the Duveneck Family legacy serve as the foundation of our curriculum. Staff receives training and support to introduce these topics in ways that are relevant and age-appropriate.
Camp is a wonderful place to make new friends! Hidden Villa Summer Camp brings youth together from different backgrounds to learn and have fun together. In keeping with our mission and to help create an inclusive atmosphere for all, we do not take requests to place a camper in the same group as a buddy.
Our camp is designed to be developmentally appropriate for each grade group to ensure that youth get the most out of their camp experience. When registering, please use the grade your child is entering in the fall following the camp season.
Please note that campers may only attend one session per summer in order to accommodate as many families as possible throughout our summer season.
How do I register?
Registration will remain open as space allows through May 25
Update Your Information
1) Visit our online camp registration system here.
2) Login using this email and your password from last year (or reset, if needed).
3) On the right side of the page, under Account Members, update all personal information, including address, phone number, school attending, etc. Add anyone in your family who is missing.Create or Update Account
Register for camp!
We encourage you to add [email protected] to your contacts so that you do not miss updates and announcements. If your preferred session is full, you will be added to our waitlist. Secure your spot by paying the $125 non-refundable deposit.
How Does the Waitlist Work?
Openings can become available at any time up until the week prior to the beginning of each session. When space becomes available, families are notified by email. You will have 24-72 hours to make the required deposit or tuition payment, depending on how close it is to the start of camp. Most of our waitlist movement occurs in May and June, although we could contact you at any time.
Refund Policy and Program Change Fees
- We require a non-refundable, non-transferable $125 deposit per participant. (Please note, a full refund of your deposit and any fees already paid, will be provided to you in the event we must cancel camp due to Santa Clara county moving into the Purple tier).
- Camp tuition is due in full by May 14th. Camp fees are non-refundable after May 14th. You must notify us 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 14th in all cases, the following exception may be considered: if a cancellation is made at least 14 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 your application has been accepted and you are registered, session or program changes are possible only as space allows. Your original deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable.
Fees & Financial Aid
$1,700 per session. Due to increased COVID-19 related expenses incurred to protect our campers and staff, we increased our fee this year. These expenses include higher staff to camper ratios with staff dedicated to only a single “pod,” COVID-19 testing for staff, and adjustments in our catering services. If the fee presents a barrier to participation, we have scholarships available. See the Financial Aid section below to learn more.
Financial aid is available on a limited basis, by request, for all youth and families with financial need. As an organization, we have committed to ensuring that 50% of our campers receive financial aid this year. Applications will be thoughtfully considered on a case by case basis and our team will notify you as soon as possible of your scholarship award amount.
In line with our camp values of inclusion, equity, and accessibility, we strongly encourage children/youth who have experienced marginalization or underrepresentation to apply.
If you are interested in applying for financial aid, register for an “Applying for Financial Aid” camp space. After you have been notified that your youth is accepted into camp, you will be provided with an application form in your UltraCamp portal, which you will need to complete. We will notify you of your scholarship amount as soon as possible.
Meet Our Camp Staff
Brenda Jones, Summer Camp Director
Brenda grew up attending summer camps in her home state of Ohio where she thrived on the safe and supportive community cultivated at camp. She attended the same camp every year starting at age seven, working her way up from seasonal staff to the full-time Manager of Specialty Camp programs. Brenda’s first year at Hidden Villa was in 2017 where she served as the Resident Camp Program Head. Brenda has years of experience working professionally at ACA Accredited Camps as an Experiential Educator and Camp Program Manager. Brenda’s prior camp experience was focused on supportive programs for specialized populations including youth in foster care, youth experiencing homelessness, and youth with chronic illness. She is currently a Visitor for the American Camp Association and a volunteer with RAINN. She is excited to lead Hidden Villa’s summer staff and campers through the magical life-changing experiences that happen at camp.
Jesse Taylor, Youth Development Manager
Jesse first came to Hidden Villa Summer Camp when he was 4 and has come every summer since. His time at Hidden Villa inspired him to get a degree in Animal Science from Cornell University and this supplied him with a wealth of knowledge that he was able to bring back and share with Hidden Villa youth each summer. In addition to taking classes, Jesse also taught classes on various kinds of wilderness exploration ranging from rock climbing to sea kayaking. Being responsible for the safety of students and campers in the backcountry drove him to get certified as a Wilderness First Responder so he could be better prepared for any situation that may arise. He spent each summer during college working as part of the Hidden Villa Summer Camp staff, culminating in his position as a Seasonal Director, before joining the year-round staff as a Youth Development Manager and Day Camp Supervisor. Jesse is continuously drawn to Hidden Villa and its legacy of making the outdoors an accessible space for people of all backgrounds.
Alisa Moore, Programs Administrator
Alisa comes to Hidden Villa with 20+ years of non-profit program development and management serving children and families through foster care and adoption. Alisa brings her strong commitment to equity, accessibility, and inclusion to her role as camp registrar and is thrilled to work with a passionate and dedicated group of colleagues, striving to make the world a better place for every body. In her free time, Alisa enjoys flower and vegetable gardening, cooking, dancing, writing, and traveling. Alisa is also a parent. Camp changed her adolescent son’s outlook on life in a deeply positive way, so she appreciates the profound impact that camp provides for children’s self-esteem, confidence, and sense of belonging.
Our camp staff is extraordinarily committed people who reflect the diversity of our camp participants. We intentionally hire staff who can create an inclusive, fun environment that promotes a sense of belonging. Our staff members participate in intensive, hands-on training that covers topics such as, working with youth in developmentally appropriate ways, encouraging respect for all, ways to address and prevent bullying, and creating an emotionally as well as physically safe environment. Additionally, the majority of camp staff are certified in CPR & First Aid. We love working with youth and take our responsibility seriously.
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. Counselors must be certified in First Aid and CPR, and they must also attend up to two weeks of orientation at Hidden Villa.
Seasonal Camp Staff Expectations
- Our seasonal camp staff plays a huge role in the success of our summer program! All seasonal camp staff will live on-site at Hidden Villa and be expected to uphold and maintain a culture that keeps all members of our community safe and healthy. They will receive training and be experts in Hidden Villa Summer Camp’s health and safety protocol.
- Camp staff will be required to wear masks/face-coverings when on-duty unless they are sufficiently distant from others, alone in an office, eating, sleeping, or swimming.
- Camp staff will be tested multiple times throughout the summer season.
- Our camp staff lives at camp for the entire summer season!
Join our camp staff!
We are looking for fun and creative individuals who are passionate about youth work to deliver a high-quality social and environmental justice camp experience to our Hidden Villa campers. We will be hiring for summer camp positions beginning on March 3! Job listings will be posted on our Job Opportunities page. For questions about hiring, email [email protected] or call Brenda at (650) 949-8607 or Jesse at (650)949-8602.
For the health and safety of our camp community, all campers will sleep under the stars for the 2021 season! Campers will enjoy sleeping at a safe distance from other campers and the fresh breeze of Hidden Villa night air.
- Each pod will be spread out throughout the farm and will have its own private sleeping area.
- All pods are completely gender-inclusive! We welcome people of all genders to any pod.
- All campers will be provided a camp mattress that is cleaned and disinfected before and after each session.
Hidden Villa Summer Camp proudly partners with Epicurean Group to provide healthy meals for our residential campers. Epicurean Group is a food-service management company headquartered in Los Altos and dedicated to sustainable dining. An independent, woman- and minority-owned business, Epicurean Group is dedicated to environmentally and socially responsible food service management practices.
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are always available. If your camper has a food allergy or more specific food needs, please contact the camp office to see if we can accommodate your youth’s needs.
Culture of Health & Safety
For the 2021 summer, Hidden Villa Summer Camp is prioritizing the health and safety of our campers and staff by going above and beyond to create a culture of health and safety. Utilizing industry best practices of layered intervention strategies, we have developed the following practices to decrease the risk of COVID-19 in our camp community and beyond:
Face Coverings: All campers and staff will be required to wear face coverings throughout their entire time at Hidden Villa, and even within cohorts. There will be occasions such as swimming, showering, eating, or sleeping when face coverings will not be required and extra precautions for distancing will be taken.
Social Distancing: We ask that our campers and staff maintain social distancing as much as possible, even within their cohorts.
The Great Outdoors: Our entire program will take place outdoors for the 2021 season to delight in the many benefits of sunshine and fresh air (the only exception to this is for bathroom use). Please see the “lodging/accommodations” tab for more information about camper sleeping arrangements. Campers will enjoy outdoor dining, served by the Epicurean Group.
Cohorts: Our camp program will operate in cohorts of 12 campers and 4 counselors who remain together for the entirety of the session. Cohorts will remain isolated from other groups and will only interact passively through new creative programming! Our program will operate with a maximum of 7 cohorts on our property per session.
Screening & Testing: All campers will be expected to go through certain screening procedures before and during arrival at camp. The procedures may include screening questions, temperature checks, pre-camp isolation at home, and COVID-19 testing. Clear protocols will be in place in the event that a camper or staff member tests positive for the virus.
Please note that the state of COVID-19 is ever-changing and it can be difficult to predict what our larger community rates of infection will look like during the summer when we plan to hold camp. This means that certain procedures may change as we get closer to the summer or learn more information. More detailed information on our camp’s finalized health and safety precautions will be provided to you in your camp enrollment paperwork as we get closer to the start of our season. We appreciate your flexibility through these challenging circumstances.
Many campers come to Hidden Villa with medications that they will take throughout their stay here. Please be sure to fill out your camper’s Health Form (available after registration) completely and accurately.
All medications will be checked in on the first day of camp during our check-in process so they can be administered by a trained staff member. This includes over-the-counter medications and supplements. We can only accept medication in its original container and if it has not expired.
Hidden Villa has a well-stocked health room and can provide most over-the-counter medications as needed. If you have questions or concerns about Hidden Villa’s ability to manage your camper’s health or medication needs, please contact the Summer Camp Office.
If your youth has a life-threatening allergy, please be sure to note it on the Health Form in your Welcome Packet and discuss it with your program head or the camp nurse during camp check-in. If your camper has a food allergy or more specific food needs, please contact the camp office to see if we can accommodate your youth’s needs.
As an organization that works with youth, Hidden Villa Camp staff are Mandated Reporters. This means that Hidden Villa Camp Staff are required, by law, to report any suspicion of child abuse (physical, emotional, or neglect). Every summer, camp staff participate in a two-hour workshop taught by an official trainer for Santa Clara County, on their legal responsibility as Mandated Reporters, what the various forms of child abuse can look like, and how to respond in the event they have a suspicion of abuse. This is a responsibility we take very seriously and we always act with the best interest of the child in mind.
Our goal at Hidden Villa is for every child to have a safe and empowering camp experience. We define safe in physical, emotional, and social terms. Behavior that affects another camper’s experience in a negative way is not acceptable.
Counselors are trained to help campers communicate their needs with one another and build a culture of consent and non-violent communication with their peers and our staff. While staff will intervene if they see behavior that is unsafe, we also want to encourage youth to be active participants in problem-solving and identifying bullying behaviors.
In the event that harmful behaviors cannot be resolved or redirected by our counselors, they will involve a camp supervisor for support, who may then contact guardians to work with families in order to support all our campers. In some cases, a camp supervisor or director may make the decision to send a camper home if intervention does not result in changed behaviors.
You can help your camper be successful at camp by encouraging them to reach out to a staff member if they experience or witness bullying. You can assure them that camp staff is trained to handle such situations in a confidential manner.
A Day In The Life
Research for a Safe Camp
In the midst of this unprecedented season of summer camp, we have looked to experts in public health and the camping industry to create our best practice plan for Hidden Villa Summer Camp this season. See below for links to the resources we are utilizing as we create our plans for Summer 2021.
- American Camp Association Field Guide
- This guidebook informs everything from sleeping arrangements to activity safety instructions. The American Camp Association knows camp and they worked with experts in public health (Environmental Health & Engineering) to create this resource for camps. At Hidden Villa, we are working to implement all of the best practices from this essential resource.
- American Camp Association COVID-19 Resources for Camps
- The American Camp Association is keeping camps informed and up-to-date with their COVID-19 resources for camps. Beyond the ACA’s Field Guide, this is our camp’s go-to page for camp planning and decision-making tools for the 2021 season.
- Association for Camp Nursing
- The Association for Camp Nursing is our resource for sample forms and the latest medical information for screening, testing, and staff-training materials as we plan for a safe and healthy summer.
- Summer Camp Task Force
- We knew we couldn’t do this summer alone so we crafted a Summer Camp Task Force made up of past Hidden Villa Staff, other camp experts, and medical experts to come up with the best plan for the summer. See meeting agenda and slides here.
- Santa Clara County Guidelines
- As we prepare for overnight camps this summer, we will follow all guidelines provided by the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health. Applicable guidelines are:
- Purple Tier: CA Blueprint for a Safer Economy
- Hidden Villa Summer Camp will not operate in-person programs if Santa Clara County is in the Purple Tier. In this case, all program fees (plus deposits) would be refunded.
SUMMER 2021 PROGRAMS:
Will you have backpacking programs this year?
Due to consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, we are unable to offer backpacking programs this season. While we are not offering backpacking trips, we will still offer on-site programs for our “Bay to Sea” aged campers and hope to continue offering Bay to Sea trips in the future.
Will you have a LIT/CIT program this year?
Unfortunately, we will not offer a Leader in Training or Counselor in Training program this season. We encourage these campers to register for our regular camp program which includes a pod for high school-aged youth.
Who are Hidden Villa campers? Is this an inclusive camp?
Hidden Villa campers come from all over the Bay Area and around the world so that your youth has a broad, multicultural experience. In the tradition in which Hidden Villa was founded, we greatly value diversity and the richness that it lends to the camp experience. As such, we weave mutual respect and understanding into our camp activities and make every effort to ensure our spaces are inclusive to people of all identities. We support an individual’s right to keep sex-assigned at birth confidential and will make housing placements based on gender identity. Gender-neutral bathrooms are readily available or available by request in all common spaces. If you have concerns about your camper being included at camp, please contact the Camp Office.
What if my child wants to attend camp with a friend?
Camp is a wonderful place to make new friends! Hidden Villa Summer Camp brings youth together from different backgrounds to learn and have fun together! In keeping with our mission and to help create an inclusive atmosphere for all, we do not take requests to place a camper in the same group as a buddy. Campers in the same program have opportunities to get together with their friends during mealtimes, pool-time, and some free-choice activities over the course of the camp session, but we do not fulfill requests to place children in groups or cabins with their friends.
How do I communicate with my child while they are at camp?
Our Summer Camp program encourages growth, independence, and confidence-building. Therefore, we prefer that campers spend their time enjoying nature, making friends, and broadening their horizons, rather than emailing or making phone calls, therefore we do not allow campers to make phone calls home nor will they have internet access. Parents are encouraged to send letters or one-way emails to stay in touch with their campers. Details about communication with your camper will be in your Welcome Packet.
PREPARING FOR CAMP:
What if my child gets homesick?
It’s normal for campers to miss home while they’re away for camp. If you or your camper are concerned with homesickness, there are some key things you can do ahead of time that will help prevent intense homesickness and help your camper enjoy a full camp experience! These include:
- practicing separation prior to camp for a long weekend
- experimenting with coping strategies during these separations
- discussing the importance of staying busy and active while at camp
- encouraging them to talk to their counselor when they feel homesick
What do I pack for my child?
Each of our programs requires different preparations for camp. For your camper’s suggested packing list (including what NOT to bring!), please refer to your welcome packet. Please note: We are an electronics-free camp! Time at Hidden Villa Summer Camp is an opportunity to unplug, make new friends, and enjoy time in nature. Please leave all electronic devices at home.
This season we will still offer all of our traditional camp activities with added safety precautions like cleaning and distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. See below for a list of our traditional camp activities:
- Farm Chores
- Rainbow Tag
- No-Fire Campfire
- Trashion Show
- And more…
Camp Readiness Survey
Below is a survey intended to help parents determine whether their camper (young or old) is ready for summer camp. The survey was developed by Bob Ditter, a child and family therapist. This information is offered to assist you as the parent, in seeing what your child’s needs are and to find a camp that best fits your child.