History

Well before becoming a summer camp, Hidden Valley’s secluded 350+ acres supported family farms similar to those still common to northern New England. Old-timers passing through tell us stories about their childhood walks to and from school, picking up fresh milk on the front steps of our farmhouse on the way home.

Dean and Hal Tiffany, Camp Founders

In 1948, Hidden Valley started out as a work and farm camp for twelve teenaged campers. This small group and their directors (and the founders of Hidden Valley) Hal and Dean Tiffany, converted a manure filled dairy barn into living and eating space.  This Red Barn later became our first dining hall and is now a community center with a library, fireplace, video studio and game area.

These pioneering campers also constructed new buildings to provide living space. These structures — with names like The Loons, Tasker Hall, and the Buckhorn — now host programs such as dance and batik.  Testimonials on this page describe camp life in those early days.

At its height, this incarnation of Hidden Valley hosted 75 campers. In 1964, the Tiffanys decided to retire — the responsibilities of caring for such a "large" camp having caught up with them — and put the camp up for sale. They began to spend summers in a cottage which has since become the camp office.

The Jay Stager Years

In 1969, Jay Stager purchased the camp. In those days, the camp hosted 90 campers, among them Peter and his brothers. Jay's ideal of an interracial, non-denominational, non-competitive camp was visionary and quite successful. Over time during the 70's and 80's, campers moved out of the barn and into cabins which now house over 200 children. 

Purchasing land from the Tiffanys, Jay also made room for camping's first and only llama herd. His time is also known for its pioneering and inspired internationalism - beginning our tradition of hosting staff and campers from every continent  - and the introduction of many new art forms to the HVC program.

To set the stage for the next phase of Hidden Valley history, we need to go back in time. Though most of the Tasker farm had been sold to the Tiffanys, a "small" (80 acre) piece remained with the Taskers until 1956 when they sold it to then HVC parents Jerome and Irene Cossman. The Cossmans converted this piece into their summer estate, building additional buildings, riding areas, and a swimming pool. When they retired in the late 80's they moved to "Deer Meadows," as they called it, full time.

Here Come Meg and Peter

Meanwhile, Peter and Meg met at nearby Med-O-Lark Camp which they directed from 1979 to '86. Married in 1985, the Kassens took over at Hidden Valley when Jay and his wife Karen retired. Later, HVC's neighbors the Cossmans decided to move closer to the Maine coast and Meg and Peter purchased the last of the Tasker farm, reuniting it with the rest of Hidden Valley and converting the Cossman's Deer Meadows estate to camper use.

In addition to shepherding the physical growth of the camp, Peter and Meg have expanded HVC’s commitment to the arts, introduced a host of staff training opportunities, developed and nurtured the camp's teen programs, broadened Hidden Valley's idea of diversity, and deepened the camp’s focus on cabin and community life.

Jay Stager passed away in 2016 after a career in which he revitalized and/or directed five Maine camps. After many years in nearby Lincolnville, Irene Cossman has moved to California. And the Tiffanys' ashes are scattered at the top of Tipi Hill near two Maine white pine trees. 

Read All About It!

Consult these documents for more HVC history...

• Here's a letter from the folks who lived in the valley in the 40's before HVC was a camp. An amazing description of the challenges of rural life before modern conveniences arrived in this part of the world.

• Read the poem "Ledge Pond" inspired by our lake and published in 1971 in The New Yorker.

• Click the link for a historical surprise that you might recognize.


© 2017 Hidden Valley Camp. All rights reserved. Part of the MaineGuide.com Network | Design: April Durrett; Development: Sephone Interactive Media.