Our Philosophy

Hidden Valley puts children at the center of camp life!

Hidden Valley's roots are in the movement of progressive camps and schools that embrace experiential learning, tolerance, inclusion and holistic education. Over the years, we have built on this history with a commitment to distinction and professionalism, and a deep sensitivity to individual needs and group life. Our diverse, non-competitive community nurtures individual growth and independence in a structured yet un-pressured atmosphere.

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Hidden Valley is a positive, inclusive camp community.

HVC has no rifles, uniforms, or color war. We attract spirited, creative campers who - for lack of a better term - are "nice kids," good natured, open-minded and willing to make new friends. We work closely with camp counselors to create a community in everything campers do: cabin life, summer outdoor activities, and all the "zany" programs that make resident camp so special.

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Administrating a school has shown me that this kind of atmosphere is set and maintained by the people in charge and I know how much the both of you must put your hearts and souls into this work. Your emphasis on personal responsibility and on being decent and caring - and on having fun! -helps make your camp a true model and a home-away-from-home. - HVC Parent

Our Values

Our days together are devoted to the following values:

  • acceptance, regardless of race, gender or background;
  • independence to choose one's daily activities and to be who you really are;
  • responsibility to one's community and peers;
  • creativity in all dimensions of the child's daily experience

Read the article featuring Hidden Valley Camp: "Kids Who Think Outside the Box"

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The supportive and creative community that you have fostered at Hidden Valley has had a dramatic impact on our family. Our girls have immensely benefited from their years with you. We place a huge value on this influence. Thank you for imparting your values of community, ecology and humanity to them. - HVC Parent

Why Camp?

For 25 years, parents have told us that their children come home from HVC more independent and confident. Free from the pressures, expectations and routines of school and home - and with the support of professional staff and longtime camp directors - children find new and expanded personal strengths. Read more!

Camps, like good schools and loving families, immunize children against adversity by giving them manageable challenges and the supports they need to learn how to cope effectively and in ways that are adaptive over time. - Michael Ungar, PhD

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My child gained an immense amount of confidence and independence. This could not have happened unless the environment had been 'prepared' and structured for the children in such a way that they stretched but that they also succeed. This delicate balance is not so easy to find nowadays. - HVC Parent

Why do we limit the use of electronics at HVC?

Because we value individual expression in a supportive community that allows children to learn and grow, preparing for future group challenges at home, school and beyond.

Our focus on living in nature allows us to replace "virtual engagement" with "vital engagement" (see article nearby, right,) and supports children as they develop a deeper sense of their ability to lead independent, joyful, productive lives.

We also believe our approach nurtures campers' relationships with peers and their capacity for empathy. This intuition is supported by research: Without phones or tablets…campers were able to identify emotions in videotaped scenes significantly better than a control group. What fostered these new empathic responses? They talked to one another… The campers also spoke about their new taste for life away from the online feed. One boy called it "time where you have nothing to do but think quietly and talk to your friends."
- Sherry Turkle, author of Reclaiming Conversation describing her research at a similar "device-free" summer camp.

A parent says: I totally support the limits that HVC imposes on electronics. As I tell my daughters, when they get away from their cell phones, they are more open to meeting all types of people and making new friends, not to mention enjoying the mysteries of nature and the great outdoors.

Finally, we are cognizant of widespread concern in the medical community about the toll that overuse of electronics is taking on children. Read more here.

Of course, staff make positive use of technology in dance classes, in music and video areas, etc. And we remain mindful of this comment from a longtime HVC camp counselor: I went virtually all summer without checking my facebook. I cannot tell you what a relief that was. It's a testament to the fact that I was really 'present' in the moment, with all my energy focused on connecting with my campers and co-workers. - HVC Staff

Take a look at how you can prepare your camper for a break from screen time.

 

From Peter and Meg

Time at a quality summer camp makes a difference in children's lives!

It is our hope that the Hidden Valley community experience instills in young people a feeling of independence, enhanced self-awareness, and an even greater capacity to live happily and work constructively with others.

In addition to enlivening instructional workshops and supportive staff, these goals are accomplished by providing a lively yet peaceful community atmosphere. All this happens in the great Maine outdoors and we have fun together!

signature 10 year old

 

Find out why camping in Maine is so special.

Our Philosophy in Practice

Here’s how we do it:

  • Over 30 years directing camps.
  • Willingness to confront all aspects of camp life honestly and sensitively.
  • Appreciating each individual child.
  • We guide counselors to see camp life and all interactions here through a professional lens.
  • We assure that returning campers and families “buy into” HVC’s inclusive atmosphere.

child thinking

This is what we loved so much about Hidden Valley, when you walk the premises it looks as though the kids have free reign and are clearly enjoying their independence. Of course, this is only possible because you are providing the safe boundaries behind the scene. We knew she was completely safe and well cared for.
- HVC Parent

What do you love about HVC?

Our Arts Philosophy

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Expression... Creativity... Identity... Find out more about our Philosophy of the Arts here.

Resources

Increasing evidence demonstrates the many benefits of nature on children's psychological and physical well-being, including reduced stress, greater physical health, more creativity and improved concentration.

Read: Getting Back to the Great Outdoors - by Amy Novotney

In an environment free of cell phones, campers participate in what psychologists call 'vital engagement,' that stretches a camper's capacities, engaging the senses in activities that have deep meaning for the child.

Read: Camp as Vital Engagement - by Bob Ditter

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