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.
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.
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.
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.
Peter Hartzell, Board Chair
June 8, 2022
Dear Hidden Villa Community,
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.
Peter Hartzell, Board Chair, [email protected]
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.
Learn more about our age groups, program sessions, and camp activities.
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 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 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.
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 2022.
- 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.
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.
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.
- For questions about registration or general questions about our camp program, please contact [email protected] or (650) 949-8644.
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.