Town Square

Save Hidden Villa Summer Camp

Original post made by Heather, Los Altos, on Jun 11, 2006

I was shocked and confused when I heard the news that Hidden Villa’s Executive Director and Board are planning to cut back camp programs, and end its 12-day residential camp. I went to Hidden Villa Summer Camp for four years as a camper and then proceeded to work another six summers as a counselor and program director. The time I spent at Hidden Villa Summer Camp changed the course of my live and has affected me in ways my parents never imagined that first summer they shipped me off to camp.

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Posted by Tom Livermore, Chair, Hidden Villa Board of Trustees
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 15, 2006 at 9:54 pm

I would like to respond to the concerns expressed over the decision by Hidden Villa’s board of trustees to put 12-day residence camps on hold for summer 2007. First I would like to point out that the moratorium on part of our summer camp (70% of the program remains intact) is just one piece of a much bigger picture. As trustees we are responsible for ALL of Hidden Villa’s programs and resources, and how they fit within the overarching mission and goals of the organization. We fully understand the importance of a longer residence camp experience, and we are committed to having a youth program with a residential component.

For nearly a year we have been involved in a strategic planning process - we have been looking at our programs and goals, for the purpose of fine-tuning them to remain responsive to our constituents and relevant to our social environment. At the same time, we have been developing a sustainable business plan, so we can remain fiscally healthy and continue to serve future generations.

Although it is with great reluctance that we suspend 12-day camp sessions that serve nearly 300 youth each summer, we will still hold summer camp for 650 youngsters, and a high percentage of them will come on scholarship. Our school field trips serve 19,500 each year - more than 260 schools participate, representing diverse communities from all over the Bay Area with more than 20% of attendees on scholarship. Our in-school program at Taft School serves 300 students from the low-income, Spanish-speaking Fair Oaks district in Redwood City - a Hidden Villa teacher works with these students 3-4 days a week for 9 months. Our organic farm provides fresh produce for more than 4000 needy families in our neighboring communities of Mountain View and Los Altos. We are not abandoning the Duveneck legacy of social justice. Quite the contrary, we are working to make it an even more integral part of Hidden Villa.

We believe our programs are timely and responsive to the community. However the fact also remains that, in order to be fiscally responsible, we must trim our operating budget by $350,000. This was a difficult decision, because 80% of our budget is in personnel costs. Yes, we have made cuts to camp, but we have made cuts across the board - 60% in administration and development, and 40% in programs.

It’s so easy to say “raise more money.” Our development staff is already raising over $1.5 million, nearly 70% of the organization’s revenue (the amount not covered by program fees), and it too has lost one full-time employee. But fund raising challenges aside, the critical issue is CHANGE. We cannot just rest on our laurels. We must make sure that we are still serving our community, that our programs remain relevant, and that we are still transforming lives. That is the true Duveneck legacy.

Our job is not only to look backwards at what we have done well, but more importantly to look forward to what we can do better.

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Posted by Matt Watson
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2006 at 2:25 pm

"the critical issue is CHANGE. We cannot just rest on our laurels. We must make sure that we are still serving our community, that our programs remain relevant, and that we are still transforming lives"

With all due respect, this sounds like what someone would say in the board room of Pepsi Co. The important objective isn't corporate re-branding, its passing your message on to your community both locally and globaly. The camps make connections with young people that have a lasting and profound effect. I did two years cabin-boy, two years bluff-boy and two years Bay to Sea, and I can honestly say those were some of the best times of my young life. I would argue they are the true heart of Hidden Villa.