I have just learned of the awful possibility of Hidden Villa's 12-day summer camp closing, and I got a pang in my stomach just at the thought of losing it. My daughter, Katie, attended the four-day camp last year and will have the joy of attending the 12-day camp this year. Little did I know it could be her only time.
I met Josephine and Frank Duveneck when I was about 7 years old. I remember them so well from the Palo Alto Friends Meeting. Josephine often spoke during the meetings for worship. I loved when she did because there were always grand stories of wisdom and love, and even adventure and humor.
When we used to go to Hidden Villa and visit in their marvelous home, it was like coming home. The place was filled with a spirit so much greater than all of us. It was a spirit that Josephine and Frank brought with them and they dedicated their lives to the enrichment of children's spirits through the camp, youth hostel and so many other wonderful things that were available to children.
I swam in the funny concrete swimming pool; I walked in the forest and worked with the animals. I showed my horse there and even was presented a winning ribbon by Josephine. My life was deeply enriched by my simply being there.
Hidden Villa is an oasis of spiritual development for children, especially in this tender age of 11 and 12. We need the resident program more than ever. So many kids have become focused on material wealth and they've lost their way towards dreaming. So many have lost their ability to imagine as they disappear into iPods, electronic games and computers. Their only dreams seem to be about becoming famous on "American Idol."
They've lost the sense of wonder and discovery. We are raising spiritually impoverished children. We need Hidden Villa to at least reach some of these kids, who can become the leaders of tomorrow.
Sure, it may require some hard work, fundraising and so on. But this is about carrying on the legacy of Hidden Villa. Frankly, I am certain that Frank and Josephine would be incredibly disappointed, and I am doubly certain that if my mother were alive she'd be devastated and frankly most likely livid and she would be doing everything possible to keep the camp going as we now know it.
I greatly hope the Hidden Villa board and Beth Ross will please, please re-consider this decision. At least give it a chance to reach out to the alumni, to the community. The 12 days are greatly needed to fully reach the kids.
For the future of Hidden Villa, for the future of the community, I beg them to reconsider and not let this legacy die.
[Editor's note: Francie Kelley is the daughter of Lois Hogle, well-known local environmental activist who died in December.]