I was devastated by the announcement (Weekly, May 19) that Hidden Villa is going to put its 12-day camp sessions "on hold" starting next summer.
I spent nine summers at Hidden Villa (as a camper and as a counselor), and I can say without hesitation that while five-day sessions are fun and educational, 12-day sessions change lives. Without these intense camp experiences, I would not be who I am today — a youth advocate at Glide Church in San Francisco's tenderloin district with an unwavering commitment to social justice and non-violent conflict resolution.
I am sending five young people to Hidden Villa this summer with the recognition that these 12 days may just save their lives. Does this sound like an exaggeration? It's not.
In 12 days, a group of campers and counselors can create their own world — a world where differences are explored and celebrated, where animals and trees are sacred, and where there are reasons to be alive and strive to do good. Children change. They take their new secret knowledge back to neighborhoods which challenge their worth and they draw on these magical memories for the strength to make good decisions.
With all programming except day camp and junior resident camp cancelled, Hidden Villa camps will not be serving anyone over 10. Who will grow up to be counselors and carry on the legacy? Additionally, day camp serves a much lower percentage of disadvantaged children than any of the overnight camps.
Please, if you have money and Hidden Villa has affected you or someone you care about, make a donation earmarked for camp. Don't let a generation miss out. Don't let the legacy grind to a halt.