Frequently Asked Questions About Overnight Camp

Overnight camp fort building class
HVC summer campers enjoy Fort Building Class and prepare for a water balloon fight.

  1. WHY AN OVERNIGHT CAMP FOR 8 TO 14-YEAR-OLDS?
  2. ARE YOU A STRUCTURED OR NON-STRUCTURED CAMP?
  3. HOW WILL MY CAMPER CHOOSE ACTIVITIES?
  4. WHAT IS THE IDEAL LENGTH OF STAY AT HVC?
  5. DO OVERNIGHT CAMPERS COME TO HVC ON THEIR OWN OR WITH A FRIEND?
  6. HOW DO YOU CREATE COMMUNITY IN THE CABIN?
  7. DESCRIBE ONGOING CONTACT BETWEEN FAMILIES AND PETER & MEG.
  8. WHAT IF MY SON OR DAUGHTER HAS A FOOD ALLERGY?
  9. WHAT HAPPENS IF A CHILD IS HOMESICK?
  10. HOW DOES MY CAMPER GET TO HVC?
  11. WHEN MAY PARENTS VISIT?
  12. HOW DO I COMMUNICATE WITH MY DAUGHTER OR SON?
  13. DO YOU LIMIT PERSONAL ELECTRONICS AT HVC?
  14. TELL ME ABOUT HOW YOU TRAIN YOUR COUNSELORS.
  15. CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MEDICAL STAFF?
  16. WHAT SAFETY PRACTICES DO YOU HAVE AT THE LAKE AND POOL?
  17. WHAT EXTRA CHARGES CAN WE EXPECT?
  18. WHAT IS HVC WEATHER LIKE?

WHY AN OVERNIGHT CAMP FOR 8 TO 14-YEAR-OLDS?

To put it simply, we enjoy summer camp with this age group! HVC children come to camp open-minded and ready to involve themselves in the many camp activities. As directors, we're able to concentrate our efforts on developing independence, confidence, and friendships with a minimum of social distractions. Older 14’s, 15 and 16 year olds enjoy focused, challenging teen options in community service, wilderness adventures, advanced arts and more.  Details can be found here.

ARE YOU A STRUCTURED OR NON-STRUCTURED CAMP?

In a word, both! Our counselors are trained to provide guidance, support and reasonable boundaries. Children quickly learn that they are free to choose activities, create and explore, and a helping hand and a caring, watchful eye will always be there for them. Read more about HVC’s philosophy here.

HOW WILL MY CAMPER CHOOSE ACTIVITIES?

In small groups, based on individual interests, guided by their counselors and the camp's program directors. If campers find they are uncomfortable in a particular class, we can easily switch them to another. Please let us know your child's activity interests before the summer and we will pre-sign him or her before arrival.

WHAT IS THE IDEAL LENGTH OF STAY AT HVC?

Over the years we have found that the 26-day session here provides a wonderful opportunity for children to adjust and establish themselves as independent young people with peers and counselors. 

First-timers note: Most campers – new or returning – attend for 4 weeks (26 days).  A 2-week “intro” program welcomes some young people for a "first summer" of friendship and independence. Please contact us to discuss your family's needs. While “4-weeks” sounds daunting to a few children, only the first few days are challenging. After this adjustment period, all HVC campers become successfully immersed in camp life.

Most HVC summer campers attend for 4-weeks. About 15% of campers stay for 6 or 8 weeks with special activities and trips providing both variety and continuity.

DO OVERNIGHT CAMPERS COME TO HVC ON THEIR OWN OR WITH A FRIEND?

Most campers do come on their own, preferring to establish an independent identity with a group of “camp friends.”  Our efforts during the first days of the session help campers and families achieve this goal. Many children do come with friends and can be placed in a cabin together. We ask that these children be prepared to share cabin life with their larger group. Here’s a look at our creative campers.

HOW DO YOU CREATE COMMUNITY IN THE CABIN?

Counselors plan group activities for Arrival Day and subsequent cabin events.  Although campers choose classes on the basis of their individual interests, cabin staff find time to bring their groups together at meals, evening programs, a cozy bedtime, etc.

DESCRIBE ONGOING CONTACT BETWEEN FAMILIES AND PETER & MEG.

In the winter we’ll provide you with preparatory info on a regular basis and are ready to answer any questions you have. Please call/email us in Maine, all year long! Once the summer is underway, please contact us about camp issues and special requests for your child. You can also expect to hear from your child's counselor.  And we’ll post daily news reports on our News Report page and on Facebook. Details about this ongoing relationship can be found here.

WHAT IF MY SON OR DAUGHTER HAS A FOOD ALLERGY?

We easily accommodate almost all diet issues in a beautiful, modern dining and kitchen facility.  Read here for details.  

WHAT HAPPENS IF A CHILD IS HOMESICK?

During our two-week training period, counselors are sensitized to the more subtle signs of homesickness. Counselors give lots of TLC and help the young person make friends and join in the life of the community. In daily staff meetings we discuss the child's needs and share in supporting the camper. Meg & Peter speak with him or her daily and contact parents to review the situation. We all work together and a full adjustment is usually evident after a few days have passed.  

HOW DOES MY CAMPER GET TO HVC?

We work with each camper's family to help choose the most convenient form of transportation. We charter and chaperone air-conditioned buses leaving from New York, Connecticut and Boston and help arrange air travel to Portland or Boston. Luggage travels with campers on buses and planes. Some parents drive their children to camp. Find out more about travel to camp here

WHEN MAY PARENTS VISIT?

Anytime, though we strongly suggest you wait 10 days to allow your child to adjust to camp. We have no set visiting day, preferring that parents choose a typical camp day to immerse themselves in their camper's world, tour camp, share a meal here, etc.  Please call ahead to let us know your plans.  Find out more about visiting Maine and time at camp

HOW DO I COMMUNICATE WITH MY DAUGHTER OR SON?

The most common means of regular contact are letters, incoming emails (which are printed and delivered with snail mail) and faxes (helpful for those of you overseas.) Phone calls can easily be arranged to say hello midway through the session and for special occasions. Remember: No cell phones or personal electronics at HVC.

DO YOU LIMIT PERSONAL ELECTRONICS AT HVC?

Yes... Take a look to learn how our "no devices" policy fosters vital community life every summer.  

TELL ME ABOUT HOW YOU TRAIN YOUR COUNSELORS.

Over 2-3 weeks, much is accomplished. For the first 4 days, we train wilderness, ropes, lifeguarding and equestrian staff.  Then – with our entire staff group – we spend 6 days examining Hidden Valley’s values and talk about how these guide our efforts in cabin life, relationship building, conflict resolution, etc. During the final week, cabin staff prepare for “family life” in their cabins, “get to know” individual campers (on paper, so please send us info to share with staff) and work with us to make lesson plans as their teaching schedules are established. Prevention, hygiene and risk reduction issues are addressed throughout. Here's an in-depth look at staff training.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MEDICAL STAFF?

On site we have a complete professional infirmary and five RN’s, along with staff trained in First Aid and CPR. A full hospital and pediatrician's office are 15 miles away in Belfast. Orthodontists and other specialists are available as well.  Here’s a look at our wellness commitments.

WHAT SAFETY PRACTICES DO YOU HAVE AT THE LAKE AND POOL?

We certify Red Cross Life Guards each summer and they staff the lake and pool at all times. Campers use a "buddy system,” swim evaluations are given to all on opening day, and life jackets are worn while boating.

WHAT EXTRA CHARGES CAN WE EXPECT?

Our all-inclusive fee covers insurance, laundry (done weekly right in camp!), trips, and all camp supplies. We have no canteen fee, providing a daily snack. And up to a reasonable limit, we make supplies (stamps, shampoo, batteries, etc.) available free of charge. Horseback riding is the only workshop requiring a nominal extra fee.

WHAT IS HVC WEATHER LIKE?

It’s lovely!  Maine is known for its clear, temperate summers. Daily average temperatures are around 80 degrees and the lake averages 70 degrees all summer. P.S. We have a low pollen count and no poison ivy.

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