Spotlight on Sports (In its Many Forms)!

Tuesday, November 28th, 2023

Hi there!!    

As the cold weather seeps in here in Freedom – snow is on the horizon ☃️ – we’re reminiscing about warm (not exactly lazy!) days spent frolicking and friendship-making in our vibrant fields and polished courts. These are some of the many infrastructural elements (some nature-gifted) of which we take full advantage at camp!

Although HVC is doubtlessly a place where the myriad arts are taught, nurtured and flourishes – testified by the bustling glass and pottery studios, the abundance of visual arts and crafts classes on each summer’s roster and the incredible play and musical productions produced in just four weeks – we are also aware of the unique magic of sports with its combination of physical activity, camaraderie and teamwork. With this in mind, we also offer an impressive variety of activities in this arena!

Huddle before the annual camper vs. counselor bball game!

In the context of classes, campers can try their hand (and feet and whole body!) at mountain biking on leisurely loops around camp (featuring lovely scenery including prime animal-and- people-watching and friends-waving) as well as on designated trails through the lush woods.

For those that prefer their riding instrument to be a bit less man-made, more personal (although perhaps equal or more tricky to maneuver!), HVC offers horseback riding to accommodate all riding levels, whether brand new or veteran. For the more casually interested, campers can sign up for riding classes as one of their four class options rotated each two weeks, where experienced counselors acquaint beginners with the majestic animals and ease them into the technical yet rewarding endeavor of riding.

Horse riders practice in our sand rings and wooded trails!

For the more experienced, HVC also offers a special four-week ‘Brumby’ program, during which participants wake up a tad earlier than their friends to tend to the horses and do barn chores before riding for first and second periods, rejoining friends in classes of their choosing for third and fourth periods plus the fifth ‘interest group’ period. Featuring a tight-knit community with equine-passionate counselors, the program is structured to let participants spend more time on the trails and with the horses while still getting a full camp experience.

For the more traditionally ‘sporty’ – or just anyone interested in having fun while being active! – other mainstay class offerings include soccer on the soccer field, basketball at the basketball court, frisbee in the backyard, archery at our archery spot, and tennis as well as pickleball (new as of last year) on the tennis courts featuring designated pickleball nets.

Pickleball, it’s all the rage!

In addition to engaging in such activities for fun (or to learn the rules or hone technique), HVC also offers two unique opportunities for more serious sports enthusiasts: the Soccer and Basketball Teams! Alongside forming a bonded group while practicing together over four weeks, team members are shoo-ins for the epic Camper vs. Counselor Soccer and Basketball games that occur with great fanfare once per summer! (Spoiler-alert hint: the campers always win 🤭)

PK the referee!

To elaborate on the last part, camp really comes together in a sporty spirit on such occasions. (Traditionally, the soccer game features the fan-favorite game day hot dog alongside several activity stations.) Perhaps they’re really just an excuse to get everyone gathered in the same place, vocally cheering for their friends and (maybe) counselors…as opposed to, for instance, being gently reminded to courteously avoid talking during the play and musical 😆

One departure from tradition last summer that may have staying power (we’ll see!) was the decision, initially weather-mandated, to change the day of the Basketball Game such that it coincided with – and thus became a thrilling part of – Fair Day right around the session’s end! (The serendipitous effect was lots of high spirits plus bittersweet bleacher White Book signing.)

The camper soccer team running drills!

With regards to pickleball (though it may have garnered a rep as tennis for the *old*, its appeal is truly universal) another amazingly successful introduction to camp last year was that of the multi-weeklong Pickleball Tournament with separate brackets for campers and counselors! 

Galvanizing the spirit and talent of experienced players alongside newly-inaugurated pickleball aficionados (even some freshly-born masters), the tournaments drew impressive crowds including vocal commentators and produced friendly competition at its liveliest! (Nothing pickly about this decision – the event is a keeper!)

All this talk and no mention of one of the most favorite (ideological and literal) areas of camp: the waterfront! (*Cue waterfront sports!*) Poolside, there are naturally swim lessons to be endured enjoyed – indeed, as dutiful observer alongside reporter, I have personally witnessed the teachers’ much-appreciated efforts to make swim lessons remarkably fun at camp, water- games-abounding! (I am also reminded of an enchanting ‘Mini Class’ option one session last summer: synchronized swimming!)

On HVC’s lovely private lake, classes are offered to quench any desire ranging from casual interest to heat-induced fantasy including kayaking (the campers’ on-boat smiles always speak for themselves) and stand-up paddleboarding (campers even seem happy falling off) alongside swimming for some signed up for lessons.

That said, while swimming at the pool is always an option during pooltime on camp-based Lazy Days, pool (fun) and lake (funner) are sometimes also activity options for the multiple Cabin Nights that occur per session as well as choices on Elective nights. So even should they choose to fill their days with studio classes and land sports, campers are not deprived of their deserved water time 💦

On the topic of ‘extracurricular’ sporty things, it’s also worth noting that less formally, sports are frequently integrated into camp programming including Electives, Lazy Days and Evening Programs – not to mention the Ropes Course! For about half a day once per session, all campers have the chance to tackle the ultra-safe, fun and rewarding (yet challenging!) ropes course, nestled in a quiet spot in the woods ’round the corner from the ‘burbs, featuring two routes.

Meanwhile, a popular classic Elective offering is Capture the Flag divided between younger and older halves while casual participation in some traditional sport or another is always on the lineup. A heartwarming sight on a sunny (but not too hot) Lazy Day is that of campers enthusiastically running around the back and front yards (for instance, in a classic game of live Candy Crush!).

Moreover, Evening Programs like Llamapalooza witness campers’ engagement in funky, quasi-competitive athletic pursuits such as completing a quirky relay race or knocking down cones with an ‘elephant trunk,’ and even themed dances typically host a game of basketball for the less dance-inclined 😉 And how could I forget: one of the most popular activities during free time (as well as sometimes when campers are supposed to be going somewhere else…): the backyard tetherball nets! Many a fond memory made there. 

And don’t forget tetherball!

Congrats, you have reached the end of this long and serious reading 🥳 Here’s a big picture takeaway for those who love recaps as well as those inclined to skim through everything beforehand (I write for you, too): come for the essential nurturing HVC spirit and the arts; stay for the lifetime memories, inimitable sense of community and bonding and…sports!

With a healthy dose of sunny cheer,

H. V. Scribe

Fun at the courts!


Horse riding, biking and archery!   

On the field!

Cooling off!





The HVC Autumn Report!

Wednesday, November 1st, 2023

Hey there! It’s me, The Dining Hall Dragon!

Once again, I am grateful enough to live in the dining hall, one of HVC’s few heated buildings! As temperatures drop in Maine, lots of the work around camp needs to be completed before the arrival of snow. Even when campers are running through the Valley, here at HVC things are moving and shaking!

Never fear, Al and Derek are here (to repair the Taj steps!)

Al, Derek and Tim have been busy around camp reinforcing decks, painting, and re-doing fences up at Brumby. They’ve repaired siding on the farmhouse and replaced the railroad ties that make up the steps to Taj Mahal. And don’t forget about essential roof repairs on Avalon and Paquatahnee!

Paquatahnee roof repairs!

And our wonderful Ladybugs have been cleaning cabins, painting picnic tables, and managing the thousands of fall leaves that have begun to drop! No doubt that those orange-autumnal colors are beautiful. The Ladybugs have also cleaned all the cabins five times this fall—after camp there were three weddings and an amazing alumni reunion!

Serena, Queen of the Leafblower

All the office carpets got a special post camp cleaning!

Other camp happenings that are essential for a transition into winter include covering the pool (fun!). Soon, the Green Pig and Dodge Dart will move into their winter home, the Rec Hall. 

Tim hard at work repairing the Farmhouse siding!

And indoors, Celie and Lucia have been speaking with new families and have begun planning for another summer. The Kassens enjoyed a quick hiking trip along the Maine coast and a visit with their younger daughter in Colorado. They are both busy around the property and speaking with new and returning camp families! We can’t wait for another summer with you all! 

More reports from the Valley soon,

The Dining Hall Dragon

Updates on our 75th Anniversary Reunion!

Monday, October 2nd, 2023


Howdy HVC! It’s been some time, but I’m back with a recap of an exciting event: our 75th Anniversary Alumni Reunion!

A few weekends ago, former campers, AWACs, and counselors (some from as long as fifty-odd years ago!) gathered at camp to meet old and greet new friends, reminisce on shared memories, and generally relive the singular magic of camp!

After an early breakfast on Friday, some early arrivals headed down the road to the Common Ground Fair in Unity before collecting back at HVC to collect their special reunion t-shirt and settle in for the weekend!  🙂 As usual, a delightful dinner was preceded by a quip-equipped Camp Meeting–complete with the first reunion Word of the Day. Then in the tradition of staff training, the night was capped off by an all-smiles Contra Dance in the Rec Hall followed by a blazing bonfire at the French Quarter fire pit, where many a song was sung!

Word of the Day: Frostalgia!

On Saturday, the Reunioners hopped on the time travel express (e.g. miraculously instant transport), landing just in time for morning Camp Meeting! When all logistics were taken care of and a wellspring of traditions evoked, a busy day of classes commenced! With Electives-style options like Photograms, Glass Beads/Mosaics, Jamming with Jacob and Yoga/Meditation; Interest Group-style pursuits like a Hike to the Blueberry Field or Log Cabin, Knockout, Tie Dye & Friendship Bracelets and Pickleball; and classic activities like Swimming, Kayaking/Paddleboarding, Ropes and Promos, camp was brimming with energy (and glittering with nostalgia)!

In highlights-reel fashion, a deserved lunch was followed by Fair Day Jr. in the Backyard and, in a memorable twist, Happy Hour with Peter and Meg at the Sandbox 😉 The joyous romp down Memory Lane Camp Road version continued with the grand occasion of the Lobster Banquet that evening, topped off with not only Ben & Jerry’s, but a heartfelt Pinegrove up the Hill.

Though the cheery campers departed the next day, bound for home in eclectic places and robust (adult) lives, their affection and enthusiasm for camp could be felt for indefinitely after. ‘Till next year former (and forever) campers – we love you too!

I’ll be in touch with updates next month! In the meantime, hope that everyone stays warm and swell as spooky (and cozy!) season settles upon us in the Northeast.

All the best,

H. V. Scribe

The Reunion crew all around camp!

The Lobster Banquet!

The Contra Dance!

Departure Day :’)

Thursday, August 17th, 2023

(A final) hey there!

Alas, Departure Day has snuck up on us! Yet as is the nature of HVC, though it’s sad to go, we’re leaving with a bounty of precious memories, silly and sweet, and touched by the indelible mark of powerful friendships and meaningful connections throughout our time alongside an arsenal of new skills and strengthened appreciation for the inimitable beauty of nature, community and childhood.

Yesterday evening, we had an extraordinary time closing out Packing Day and the session at large with the one-and-only Lobster Banquet – see footage below! – after engaging in our final cabin activities (see the list below) followed by our closing Pinegrove ceremony.


As a hearty bunch of bib-armored campers got cracking (literally) on their rewarding fare, the rest enjoyed their chicken parm or spanakopita, and the mood was festive and infectious all around 🙂

After an anticipatory lead up spent backyard frolicking, the thunderous drumroll of united table-banging began, announcing the advent of cow-costumed Meg and Philly laden with pints of Ben & Jerry’s!!!

Once campers’ hearts and bellies were full, campers and counselors walked up the hill arm-in-arm to our reverent Pinegrove sanctuary around a scintillating bonfire courtesy of HVA where they watched acts performed by each cabin.

In addition to personalized parodies and bittersweet classics, the variety included HVC staple repeat-after-mes, performances from the ropes and lifeguard staff, and a traditional Peter ditty alongside a heartfelt whole-camp round of ‘Oh, How Lovely is the Evening’. (It really was!)

As the singing came to a close, cabin groups began trickling out to form the procession for the poignant candle-lighting ceremony down the hill. As flames winked in and out of the balmy night, illuminating dewy faces to accommodate hugs alongside candle tapping and rekindling, each camper extended their gratitude, love and farewells to every other in a beautiful and heartwarming affair.

Today, all campers beat the sun this morning – the majority to the rousing sound of camp song caroling by Forbidden and Taj campers – to indulge in steaming hot chocolate and bid final goodbyes before seeing off or departing on the Newton and Portchester buses HVC style, i.e. performing the ‘Funky Chicken’!

As cars have begun chugging up the road, the waiting campers have been enjoying their final dose of backyard time in merry weather, chatting and playing and making these last moments count.

Second session, it’s been an absolute treat and honor recording the day-to-day happenings – and only the big ones! – of this dazzling place full of such vivacious, curious, talented and beautiful souls. Wishing everyone a rejuvenating end of summer and a wonderful winter!

While this blog will momentarily go quiet, you’ll hear from camp again after Labor Day in a couple of weeks 🙂


H. V. Scribe

Cabin Activities

LCH: Games around Red Barn fireplace

Avalon: Blueberry field fun

Wombles: Talent Show

French Quarter: Games, Warm & fuzzies and Candy

Loons: Games mash-up

Paquatahnee: Popsicles & Whitebook signing

Muskingum: Cabin photo signing

Gimme Shelter: Water balloon fun & Cabin photo

Fiddler’s Green: Cabin photo collage

Valhalla: Hangout & Whitebook signing 

Camelot: Whitebook signing & Cabin photo 

Shangri-La: Car mail

Haley’s Comet: Nail painting with show-watching

Taj Mahal: Cabin photo signing

Bermuda Triangle: Games & Ice pops

Forbidden Planet: Pickleball

HVA: Counselor Hunt

Lobster Banquet

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